As a frequent flier with millions of miles in the air, I never tire of reading this story...
As Jerry sat down in his aisle seat, he began ruffling through his papers. He took out his computer; he had work to do. It was a week from Christmas; he wanted to get all his work done on the flight. He smiled as considered a quick prayer, "Please God, let there be an empty seat next to me." His eyes glanced at the young man in his row next to the window; he wore a red tag that read "Minor Traveling Unattended." Their eyes met. Jerry smiled,
"I'm Jerry. You must be about seven years old." Michael replied, "You must not have kids."
"Why do you say that?" He reached into his wallet to show him pictures, "Here are my boys."
"You should have known I was six."
The captain said over the speakers, "Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff." Jerry leaned over, "Right about now, I say a prayer and ask God to keep the plane safe and to send angels to protect us." Michael said, "I'm not afraid of dying, because my momma is already in heaven."
"I'm sorry," Jerry said.
"Why are you sorry?" the boy asked.
"I'm sorry you don't have your momma here with you. Are you going to be with your dad?" It seemed to Jerry like an obvious question. "I don't have a father."Jerry pushed his briefcase further under his seat. No dad, and a mother who had died, and he's flying half-way across America alone next to him.
After returning from a tour of the cockpit with his own wings, he went to his seat, pausing to look at his bag that carried all of his possessions. Michael buried his face in his hands and began to sob. Jerry rubbed his back and said, "What's the matter buddy?" All Jerry got were muffled words, "I don't know my grandma. Momma didn't want her to come visit and see her sick. What if Grandma doesn't want me? Where will I go."
"Michael, do you remember the Christmas story? Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus? Remember how they came to Bethlehem just before Jesus was born? It was late and cold, and they didn't have anywhere to stay. Well, God was watching out for them. He found a stable with animals...."
"Yes, I know Jesus...." Then he closed his eyes, lifted his head and began to sing. His voice rang out with a strength that rocked his tiny frame, "Jesus loves me...this I knowwwww. For the Biiiible tells me so....." Other passengers turned to see the little boy.
"You have a great voice." The boy stopped and said, "My momma says I have pipes like my grandma. She sings in the choir."
Jerry smiles as he said, "I think you two will be taking over that choir." The seat belt came on and the flight attendant said they were approaching O'Hare. "Will you go with me?" Michael asked, now serious.
"I wouldn't miss it in the world. Of course." We both followed the flight attendant down the jetway. Michael's eyes brimmed with tears, and he reached up to have Jerry carry him. Then they heard the rattle of fast approaching footsteps and a woman saying, "Is that you Michael?" We both felt the warmth in her voice, "Oh, baby. come here. Grandma loves you so much. Let go of that nice man. I need a hug."
Michael's grandma stroked his arm and picked up his bag. "You've got folks waiting for you out there, Michael. You've got aunts and uncles and cousins." Jerry did not know whether the flight attendant had told her or whether God had provided an internal prompt, but his grandma began humming and then broke into the reassuring words...."Jesus loves me, this I know...." Had she shared that song years ago to Michael's mother. Whatever the reason, Michael leaped into her arms. As they crossed the threshold, cheers erupted. A tall man tugged on Michael's ear and pulled off the red sign around his neck. It no longer applied. Michael was home for Christmas!