Guardian angels guiding lights through ups, downs of life

By Janet Hommel Mangas

I was rummaging through my “save it forever” desk drawer and found this happy birthday note from 17 years ago in July …

Once upon a time, God spoke to one of his Guardian Angels and said, “Sheila, your new charge will be a … Carmen Ottman.” Sheila sighed deeply and said, “OK Boss, but she is so boring.” When God gave her one of his famous piercing looks, both of her palms shot up. “OK, OK, I’m going,” she said.

For eons, it was as she had expected. Carmen’s life continued with the same old, same old. Then, after 60 years of ho-hum, Sheila began feeling sorry for her client and figured it was time to put a bit of sparkle in her life. So on her own initiative, without any orders from The Boss, she swooped inside the head of the young beautiful Janet Hommel, guiding her into Carmen’s life.

She became the bride of the youngest Mangas son. This son was a delightful young man, but one who had a flaw. He seemed to lose everything he owned … about once an hour. If for no other reason than this, Carmen was most pleased to let another female assume the task of being his “keeper.”

Beyond this, however, there was a bonus. Janet became a wonderful surrogate daughter to Carmen. And the blessings did not stop there, for Janet delivered three of the most precious little doll babies Carmen could have ever dreamed of.

I don’t know how this story ends, for it is still ongoing. But I can safely say that Sheila and Carmen now have a congenial relationship. And I can also say that Sheila’s job will exacerbate because her charge is now at the age where there will be stumbling, falling off the toilet, lighting a candle which catches her hair on fire and an endless stream of hazards that cause even the most patient of angels to dip down in the night to grab a handful of Excedrin. Extra Strength Excedrin.

But on this birthday, Ms. Janet Hommel Mangas, you need to know that you have truly brightened the life of Sheila’s charge.

Happy Birthday Janet, from Carmen

I thought it appropriate to respond this week to my mother-in-love Carmen Ottman Mangas for her 88th birthday …

Dear Sheila, (a.k.a. Carmen’s guardian angel),

Just a quick note to say thanks for being an angel and guarding Carmen. I don’t want to insult you, but I think it’s hilarious that you first thought that being her guardian angel would be a bit boring. I suppose I, created as an earthly being, don’t need to remind you that God blessed her with three rambunctious sons — who she somehow tamed, with a whole heap of heavenly power — who all became their own successful businessmen and productive members of society. I would love to hear your first-hand stories — the good ones! — Did you fear losing your job, because of the 5-foot white caps that were nearly capsizing the fishing boat? Did you ever think about handing your angel wings to Carmen, because she was actually doing the family guardian work? Sheila, was it frustrating to you that Carmen always goes straight to your boss and gets instruction from him? We’re you in awe of her writing, art and decorating as we on earth continue to be?

Sheila, thanks again for hanging with Carmen for the past 88 years — you’ve obviously done a great job — hence, no jail time thus far. If you bump into my guardian angel, Rosie, I need to tell you both thanks for helping Carmen and I travel to Fort Knox for a graduation and to Lima, Ohio a few times before mapquest days. Do guardian angels sigh and roll their angel eyes when you’re frustrated and dealing with two directionally-challenged clients?

On this birthday Carmen Ottman Mangas, you need to know that you have truly brightened the life of Rosie’s charge — and Sheila — well, she couldn’t have chosen a better earthly woman to do her guardian-ing.

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to