Vintage Club Stories:
Underground Movement:
Writer: Jodi Ingersoll:


Angel on Her Rooftop


The first time Daisy appeared in my life, she was an angel, glowing halo and all, resting on the roof of the house next door.

Perched at the corner, she sat laughing the hearty, deep laugh of a lifetime smoker, then giggling melodically. The brilliant summer sun caught her snowy, short hair as it framed her heart-shaped, radiant features. Like the classic paintings of the loving Madonna (The Virgin Mary one, that is...) her halo of white glowed against the striking blue of a hot Texas summer sky.

My heart racing from a sprint out front, I stood in my front yard, not 2 days into my first home, hands on hips, exasperated with my 3-year-old son. He was standing bare-butt naked, proudly waving at all our new neighbors, after having just escaped from the house and then relieved himself on a tree in the style typical to little boys. A helmeted family of bike riders, jaws agape, rolled past, unsure how to properly react to the unabashed blonde boy grinning ear-to-ear and waving his animated greeting.

"He is just too precious," were the first words I heard from above. Sleep-deprived, out of sorts, and a bit mortified at the whole situation, I was startled at first, thinking her a hallucination.

"He reminds me of my grandson & great-grandson," she said, crinkling her nose, waving & smiling right back to Connor, paint dripping from the brush in her hand.

"Great- grandson!??" I repeated, marveling at the spry and feisty woman. A 70-something-year-old woman painting the trim of her house, poised on the corner where she watched over everyone: the children, the neighbors, her garden seedlings & blossoms, and now us, too.

Here is the woman I want to be: steady, radiant, stunningly beautiful, her joy seeping into everyone around like a heavenly rain, steadily nourishing the drought-battered esperanza.

After rounding up the wriggling, giggling, naked toddler & forcing him into clothes, I returned to the front yard.

Gazing at the fresh, shiny paint drying on the trim, I told myself that I couldn't have dreamed her up. Though my angel had vanished, traces of her remained.

"Hello..?" I called tentatively, echoed by a parroting toddler tugging at his Thomas the Train T-shirt. "HULLO?"

And there she was, leaning over the back side of the roof, perched higher, still smiling as though on this hot roof was the greatest place in the world to be. She beamed her happiness down to us from chin to hairline and every laugh line in between.

"Well, Hello right back. You can call me Scotty."

As I introduced myself, she held me in her gaze, locked intently on my eyes, words, posture, inflection. This woman was reading me, like the piercing truthfulness and open acceptance of Jesus himself.

Having skipped over trivial conversation, I shared that I am a single-mother who just bought my first house. I explained how my nimble-footed son waited for me to take a bathroom break before disappearing out the front door and disrobing for his own outdoor bathroom adventure.

Again she smiled, eyes twinkling, crinkled at the corners, telling me I had been deemed a worthy neighbor & mother. Having seen into my heart after only moments of conversation, she opened up to me and invited me into the beauty of her friendship.

Reassuring me about how "These things happen," she told me about raising 3 children, who were now all grown up with children of their own. Though it was clear her life had not been easy, there was something sacred and altruistic in the way she spoke of her family. She loved and respected each member, knowing that stumbles were part of becoming a greater person. I marveled at how a simple description of each person was like a prayer in itself: for their continued health, happiness, and growth along their path in life.

As her voice filled the air, the still summer heat shifted to a breeze, as though her garden was coming alive in the rhythm and cadence of her story. Bees buzzed along, sampling the plethora of flowers, in shades of purple, red, yellow, and fiery orange.

Since that day 4 years ago, she has been a guest in my home, my door always open to her. She would meander over while smoking, watching the last rays of sunlight drift away, and tell me about her thoughts on the world, her passionate opinion about injustice, and then "poof" she would decide to be happy. Somehow, she would decide to hand over the struggles to God. In that one instant, she was lighter, trusting God to make things right "in his own time."

We shared milestones, puppy playdates, stories of God & his power in the world around us, traded recipes, and even dined on her home-grown vegetables. She'd ramble on about politics (on which we agreed to disagree); plants (on which we universally agreed); the transcendent power of serving God; the business of bees, and reviving their dwindling population through growing more flowers.

An artist's touch appeared in each plan;, each masterpiece she painted on the walls throughout her home & work; each haircut, highlighting, or color she performed in her salon.

My hair has never been happier since being placed in her expert hands. From scalp massage, shampoos, perfectly balanced coloring combinations, to meticulously layered haircuts, she inspected each strand, searching for nothing short of wonderful at the end of each session.

As she'd craft my locks from frumpy into style, I'd gaze at the mural she painted on her wall, marveling at the ability for each paint stroke to take on significance. The waves danced, and each leaf was like looking through glasses: seeing depth and clarity where none had existed before.

Not 2 weeks ago, she was home sick with a "stomach bug," unable to squeeze me in at work when I called. The disappointment dissolved when she appeared on my doorstep that evening, tools in hand. We gabbed merrily as she cut my hair right here in my kitchen while my granny patiently swept up the freshly fallen hair from the floor.

Scotty, Granny, Connor & I laughed, joked, and carried on until the last "snip" announced completion. In those few uplifting moments shared with her, my difficult day had transformed. If I had known that would be the last of our informal gatherings, I think I would have done things exactly the same.


Today she was resplendent, dressed to the nines in flawless, snowy white, resting peacefully among hundreds of sweet-smelling flowers, hands clasped in front of her, having finally found time to rest. Her halo shined whiter, but that inner light was conspicuously absent, having moved on to join the wind in its dance through unbounded fields of beauty.

Smiling through her painful struggle, even days ago when I last saw her in passing, her presence brought peace and warmth like that first summer breeze. That "stomach bug" that had been plaguing her was actually cancer, a secret beast that consumed her silently from within.

In her usual stubbornness, she insisted on meeting God on her own terms, keeping her date with destiny a secret. No doctors, chemo, worry from loved ones, or complications could get in her way. Death was met by a fulfilled and peaceful woman, surrounded by her lovingly healed family, on a radiant sunny day.

Birds still sing, and the flowers still dance merrily as though she is still sharing stories in her singsong cadence. How can that be if she is no longer here?

While walking to my mailbox today, I looked up, expecting to see her smiling face in the garden.

Instead, perched above the lantana, esperanza, & budding flowers, looking down on me and smiling like the first moment was my sweet angel, Scotty.

And there she will always remain, protecting, loving, serving, cherishing the beauty around her, just as she did in life.

Scotty, Thank you for honoring me with your friendship, kindness, and inspiring me to grow in my faith. You will be missed, cherished, and remembered. God Bless.

-Jodi Ingersoll April 23, 2012 in Memory of Daisy "Scotty"Reilly.