Angels of Divine Light
O Angel of God, my guardian dear
To whom God’s love commits me here
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen
This prayer always reminds me of my mother. It was the first prayer Mam taught me and it is one of my earliest memories. Every night as she tucked me into bed and gave me my goodnight kiss she’d whisper in a gentle voice, “Did you say your Guardian Angel prayer?” She would then sit or stand by my bed and recite it slowly with me, reminding me to replace the word “day” with “night.” Sometimes she would tell me the story of my Guardian Angel. I loved it when she did that and never tired of hearing it.
“Before you came to live with me, Aidan, you lived with Holy God way up in the sky. Because you were small, Holy God kept you safe and sound in His pocket until you were strong enough to come and live with me. Then one very warm night when we were all asleep He took you out of His pocket and left you on the back doorstep. He sent an Angel with you to keep you safe until I found you early next morning. That Angel is still with you, and he’s your Guardian Angel. He’s your best friend and he will watch over you and keep you safe always. His name is also Aidan,” she would say with a big smile.
This made me feel so important. Imagine having an angel with the same name as you! “Your Guardian Angel always has the same name as yourself,” Mam said. “Mine is called Kathleen.” I loved this story because it always made me feel safe and secure before I went to sleep. And, of course, I had no reason to believe she wasn’t being 100 percent truthful. You see, from a very young age—perhaps four or five—I could see Angels: and they were always by my side.
There were always many Angels. I don’t know why I never told Mam or anyone else about these beautiful Beings but I thought everyone could see them. I suppose at the age of four or five I thought that once you recited this prayer they just appeared.
I was born in 1958, and as the youngest of seven children I was a little spoiled and very well looked after by my older sisters and brothers. My father, also called Aidan, worked for Guinness driving trucks. He enjoyed his job and worked hard, like many others of that era. The hours were long and often he had to stay away overnight if he was on a long run, especially coming up to Christmas when the brewery was particularly busy.
My father was a stocky man with a very straight walk and an air of authority. He was the main breadwinner in the house and he dutifully handed the housekeeping money over to my mother every Thursday night. We got sweets and chocolate that night, and our own pocket money. The amount depended on how old we were; and of course the youngest always got the least. Payday was a great day in our house!
Dad was a devout Catholic and carried out his Church duties with great faith and without question. Whatever the priest said was law and that was that. But he also believed in ghosts and the banshee and the tapping of the passing soul on the window. He told us how he saw the banshee outside his house shortly before his own father died.
She sat on the wall, a slight figure of a woman dressed in black. She sat combing her long hair, crying and wailing like a trapped cat or a lost soul. The sound could be heard for miles. He claimed he saw the banshee many times just before someone died. He also talked about the three taps on the window he’d heard on several occasions. This happened when someone close passed away and the spirit would tap on the window to say goodbye on their final journey. Every time he heard the knock on the window we got news shortly afterwards that someone had passed over. This gift has passed on to me: I always get the three taps on the window when loved ones pass over.
My father was born in 1919, and grew up in Wexford on his father’s farm, the youngest boy of six. His mother was the local midwife. In his late teens he came to Dublin and went straight into Power’s distillery before going to work for Guinness. He lodged for a short time with my mother’s parents and that is where Mam and Dad met, fell in love and, in the early 1940s, married.
Dad was not the easiest of men to get on with. He was the nicest and quietest of men when he had no drink in him but when he was drunk it was a different story. He never deprived the family of money through his drinking, but when he did get drunk he drank hard and turned argumentative. You certainly wouldn’t dare to have a conversation with him when he was in this kind of state. So although he wasn’t a bad man, and I loved him, he could be difficult to be around sometimes and I was a little nervous of him when I was a child.
Sadly, I never really got to know my father very well. He was a fairly distant figure, even with Mam, and my bond was much stronger with her. It wasn’t until a couple of years before he died, when I was in my midtwenties when he became ill, that I got to know him a little better and realized he’d had his own troubles to deal with. His childhood had been difficult, but he never wanted to discuss his past with anyone and it seemed he turned to drink to block things out. Men were not allowed to ask for help in those days, they were just expected to get on with it, and that was what he did. But he was bitter and angry as time went on and alcohol seemed to be the answer to his problems.
He was a troubled man and I’m sorry that I couldn’t have the kind of relationship with him that I had with my mother. Now, though, that the Angels have given me the gift of love and compassion I know that in his own way he loved me. I’m glad he’s at peace.
My mother on the other hand was very loving and always there when we needed her. She was a woman of her time. She worked in the home and cooked and cleaned from early in the morning until late at night. With so many children to care for, she never seemed to sit down and she had a kind word or a smile for everyone. And although she was a very straight-talking lady she had great warmth and a lot of love to give to people. She was highly thought of in the neighborhood, for she would do a good turn for anybody, day or night.
My mother was born in 1915 in the Liberties, the oldest part of Dublin, and went to live in Mount Brown, just beside what is now St. James’s Hospital, when she was five or six. Her father also worked for Guinness and her mother was a cook. My mother was the oldest of seven children, a Wexford woman trapped inside a Dublin woman’s body. She loved the country and spent most of her teens and early twenties in Wexford with relations because it was felt she was not strong and needed the clean, fresh air of the country to make her more robust. She was a tailor by trade and served her time in the local tailoring factories around Dublin.
She loved sewing and making clothes and curtains, and anything else she could run up on her machine. In fact, she made clothes for all of us when we were young—and for my cousins, and even the neighbors. Give her some material or an old dress, and in no time she would have made something for one of us. Gifted with her hands, she could do anything she set her mind to. She also took in home sewing from time to time, to make a few extra pounds. She sewed into the night and as a child I often fell asleep to the comforting rhythm of her machine as she worked away. She too was a devout Catholic and went to Mass every Sunday and any time she could during the week. She did a lot of charity work and never looked for any recognition in return.
The neighbors trusted and respected my mother for her kindness. She had a great love for the elderly and really made an effort to help anyone in need. People with problems were drawn to her and she would give them very good, sound advice, as if she was being guided in some way. I always felt she had strong healing powers and it was only as I grew older and began to develop my own that I realized she had a special healing energy about her.
Unlike my father, although she loved the Church, she was never blinded by it. She used to say, “A good turn is far better than any praying or going to Mass.” And also unlike my father, she didn’t always agree with what the priests and bishops had to say. She’d say, “Don’t mind those priests. They don’t know everything. God has the last word.” This was her firm belief.
My mother gave birth to eight children: five girls and three boys. The firstborn, a girl, died a few hours after birth. She was taken away from my mother a little later and then buried in the grave of the Angels in Glasnevin, a special grave for young children and babies.
Counseling was almost unheard of in those days, and Mam was sent home and advised to have another baby as soon as possible. But she never forgot her little girl and she spoke of her often. As I gained more knowledge from the Angels I was told why babies return to God so soon after birth, sometimes, or why they are miscarried. Later in the book we’ll come back to this and I will pass on to you what I was told.
My brother Peadar followed a year later, in 1946, then Breda, Jim, Mary, Rosaleen, Kathleen, and myself. My mother had time for all of us—not easy when you were a mother of seven very different children. She told us she loved us all equally but felt she often had to love us in different ways because we were all different individuals, and this she did superbly. It was from her I learned about unconditional love, the ultimate goal of every soul who undertakes the human journey.