Bob, the Turtle Man – A True Angel

turtleDo Angel’s exist? I think so, but maybe not in the form most of us think of. I recently met an angel by the name of Bob.

Bob is a 78 year old effervescent bachelor. I met Bob through the widow of a quadriplegic man, Jerry. Jerry met Bob one day when Jerry needed some help – the bus he had arranged to meet him did not show up. Jerry asked Bob for help, and Bob obliged. They exchanged phone numbers and soon Bob and Jerry were friends. Jerry could call on Bob for assistance if he needed help any time day or night. Bob started to accompany Jerry on speaking engagements, as Jerry was in demand as a psychological expert, as well as a motivational speaker. When Jerry and his then fiancée decided to get married, Jerry told Bob “You will marry us.” Bob protested that he was not the right person for the job, but Jerry was stubborn, and Bob did indeed officiate the wedding ceremony. Bob said he was more nervous that the bride or groom.

Bob is known as the turtle man. As he told me – a long time ago he saw an ad for small stone carved turtles. He ordered 6 of them. Giving them away had been such fun, that he ordered a lot more. Now he always has a supply in his pocket. I supposed that they were a bit larger than a quarter. Bob did not have enough to give everyone in the group when we met so I never saw one of “Bob’s Turtles” (that was rectified, many times over upon subsequent meetings).

Bob said that he started giving out the turtles to people to make them smile. Bob, long retired does some jobs for a little income and to meet new people. He works part time in a liquor store. One day a lady came in, very annoyed looking and demanded to see the manager. Bob, in his friendly way said that there was no manager there. The lady then demanded to see the assistant manager – and Bob told here that there was no one there but him. He said “I can do something for you though” and he handed her a turtle. That changed the woman’s attitude immediately. She started to cry and gave Bob a big hug and said that that was exactly what she needed.

Another one of Bob’s turtles saved a life. One of Jerry’s attendants had been very depressed, but hid it well from others. Bob had given the attendant a turtle when they had met. Well the women became very depressed and decided to kill herself with an overdose of pills – as she had nothing to live for. She was reaching for the pills when she accidentally knocked the turtle off the shelf, she dropped the pills and grabbed the turtle. At that moment, she realized that she did care about something the turtle that Bob had given her. She did not commit suicide, and Bob reported that she had moved to California and was doing well the last time he had heard from her.

Although I only talked to Bob for about an hour, I remember his stories clearly and strongly. When things look grim I start to wonder. I wonder how many Bob’s there are in the world, and how many turtles.

Sometimes I meet very bitter people or hear of almost unimaginable cruelty and I fear for the human Race. But then I remember Bob. Knowing that Bob, and people like him exist restores my faith and gives me a deep sense of inner peace. Bob is an angel, not a superhuman angel, but a fully human angel, a simple man who looks for opportunities to lift others spirits. He did remind me a bit of Clarence, in “It’s a wonderful life”. But Bob was not endowed with magical powers- unless love and acceptance are superhuman powers.

So maybe all of us have a little angel in us. Who has been there for you at critical phases of your life? What form of angel have you met? And for whom have you been an angel?

Michael Winters is a Psychologist in Houston focusing on marriage counseling and therapy. Michael received his PhD from the University of Memphis and has been practicing since 1991.