Episode 599: “More True Stories From Touched By An Angel”

 

Roma Downey, John Dye, and Della Reese host this one-hour special exploring some of the true stories behind Touched By An Angel and the important role that music plays in the series. In the first segment, former major leaguer Dave Dravecky talks about episode #102, “Show Me the Way to Go Home.” In the episode Earl, a dying high school baseball coach, must come to terms with his bitterness over the fact that a Vietnam War injury prevented him from playing professionally. Dravecky relates this to his experience of losing his pitching arm to cancer, and how his faith in God helped him through.

Next, a couple from Arkansas speak about episode #401 “Great Expectations” about a couple who finds out the wife is pregnant with a baby with Down Syndrome. Much like the couple in the episode, they speak about the initial disappointment they felt when they learned their child had Down Syndrome, and their eventual understanding of God’s blessing.

Randy Travis tells of his experience on his first episode of Touched, episode #110 “Fear Not” and how it was a miracle that the show ever got finished — he had recently had back surgery, couldn’t bend over and was advised by doctors to rest. Everyone was amazed that one couldn’t tell how much pain he was in when watching the episode!

Executive Producer Martha Williamson speaks about episode #210 “Til We Meet Again” about a family saying goodbye to their dying father. This was the hardest Touched episode for her to write, a very personal episode about her own father and her relationships with her own siblings. At the end of the episode, the family sings to the father as he passes away, and Martha reveals that the voices singing are actually herself, her husband, and her mother.

Wynonna Judd speaks about the 100th episode of Touched, episode #508, “Psalm 151” in which she plays the mother of a child with cystic fibrosis. The music in the show is what drew her to it in the first place, and we hear clips of the song “Testify to Love” which Wynonna sings in the show.

Also in the 100th episode is Celine Dion, who shares about her own loss of a niece to cystic fibrosis. For the special’s finale, Della Reese performs a full- length version of the Touched By An Angel theme song “Walk With You” with a back-up choir, over a montage of memorable clips from all five seasons of the show.

Episode 526: “Godspeed” (5th Season Finale)

Major Josie Saunders grew up reading all about Charles Lindbergh. It was Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic, along with Josie’s own desire to make her mother proud, that fueled her drive to join the Air Force and later NASA. When, just a few days before her first mission into space, Josie learns from a NASA P.R. man, Andrew, that her mother has died, the frightening reality of what she’s about to do hits home. When she returns from the funeral and joins her fellow astronauts, we learn that one of the mission’s Capcoms, Greg, is Josie’s husband. In a private moment, he expresses some concern about her emotional readiness for the mission. He rightly asses that she might be angry and a little scared, but she denies it.

Then she meets Diana, a brave little girl with brain cancer, who asks her to deliver a letter to God while she is in space. Josie becomes suddenly awkward and ends her time with Diana, throwing the letter away. Later, she tells Greg the truth: “I don’t know where my courage comes from. I don’t even know if I ever had it.” She is afraid. One night, Diana’s words echo in her dreams: “What if something goes wrong?” When she wakes up screaming, Tess, a NASA nurse, comforts her and we learn that while Josie loved her mother deeply, they did not really see eye to eye. Her mother had had a strong faith, but since the death of her father, Josie had given up on God. She had always just wanted to show her mother what she could do by herself–without God, without prayer–like Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. Tess assures her that Lindbergh was never alone and begins to tell the story of Lucky Lindy as Josie has never heard it before. But she only gets so far before Josie falls asleep.

On the day of the mission, Josie meets Sally Ride, who does much to comfort her, and Tess does her part too. She tells Josie that Lindbergh was visited by an angel during his historic flight, and that it was God who got him through, not just his own ability. Josie reminds Tess that she does not believe in God and goes to the shuttle angry, if not quite so scared. The mission goes smoothly until the spacewalk for which Josie had trained so hard. Her tether breaks and then communication is lost; and as she floats off into the dark, soundless solitude of space, the real fear sets in. But she is visited by Monica–Lindbergh’s angel–who tells her to tether herself to God, and to trust Him as her mother had always entrusted her to Him in prayer. She gives her Diana’s letter, which Josie finally “delivers” to God. Communication is restored and as the shuttle comes to get her she asks Greg, back at mission control, if Diana is there. She is, he assures her; Andrew has made sure of that. Josie tells Diana, “I can’t be with you during the surgery. but I’ll be praying for you. Every day. Just like my mother prayed for me…”

 

Episode 525: “Hearts”

Monica is an aid to Dr. Sandra Pena, a Portland heart surgeon. Sandra’s favorite patient, Ilena, is in need of a heart transplant and time is running out to find a compatible donor. Meanwhile, at a hospital in Boise, Angela, the victim of a horse riding accident, lays dying. Sandra is excited to learn that Angela may be the compatible donor Ilena desperately needs. Tess, an organ donor specialist, tries to convince Angela’s husband Dan to donate Angela’s heart. Unwilling to believe that his wife is dying, he refuses to agree to the transplant.

In an attempt to lift Ilena’s spirits, Monica introduces her to Sandra’s daughter, Casey. The two teenagers quickly become attached. ¬†When Sandra learns that the heart is unavailable, she warns Casey of Ilena’s fate, and insists she not see Ilena anymore. Rather than give up hope, Casey takes a bus to Boise, without Sandra’s permission, in hopes of convincing Dan to donate Angela’s heart. In Boise Casey meets Andrew, who has been sitting with Angela and comforting Dan. Tess introduces Casey to Dan. She tells Dan of Ilena, and how there is a real person in need of Angela’s heart. This only angers Dan and, in denial about Angela’s condition, he refuses to discuss the matter any further. Defeated, Casey returns to Portland, where an angry Sandra awaits her.

While driving home, Sandra and Casey argue, causing an accident. Casey suffers severe head trauma. Monica speaks with a distraught Sandra about Casey’s condition and the possibility that Casey’s heart may be a good match for Ilena. Sandra refuses to consider the possibility. At the same time Ilena is unwillingly to take her good friend’s heart. Monica reveals herself to Sandra, telling her that though she and Casey may not always see eye-to-eye it’s okay to have differences, and that the bond between a mother and daughter is one of God’s greatest gifts.

Meanwhile, Andrew reveals himself to Dan telling him that Angela wishes to donate her heart. As Sandra waits with Casey, she tells her how much she loves their differences and that’s what makes their relationship special. Casey recovers and Dan agrees to the donation, but it’s too late, Ilena has passed away. Weeks later, Dan receives a letter from Casey, who informs him that Angela’s heart did not go unused, it was donated to another needy individual. Casey acknowledges Dan’s difficult decision and thanks him for his generous gift of life.

Episode 524: “Black Like Monica”

Monica encounters Tess on the side of a dirt road on the outskirts of Aynesville, a small Southern Illinois town. Tess, holding a bloodied noose and crying, directs Monica to the body of a dead black man. Tess, in anguish, tells Monica that she has given up on earth, and is returning to heaven. In downtown Aynesville, preparations are being made for the upcoming Civil Rights Day and a visit from Rosa Parks. Lavonda, the director of the celebration, wonders why Mooney, the set builder, is no where to be found.

Monica arrives and informs Tom, the sheriff, about the murder. Monica takes Tom, Lavonda, Deputy James, the Mayor and a few others to the murder site, and they identify the body as Mooney’s. The group suspects that the murder was committed to ruin the celebration, and, with the exception of Tom and James, decides to keep the murder quiet. To ensure the cover up, Tom reluctantly locks Monica in a jail cell. As a black man, James protests the cover up and the abuse of Monica’s civil rights. That night Monica prays for a way to help this town, despite being locked up. Though angels don’t need to sleep, Monica does, and has a violent dream about Mooney’s death. Monica wakes to find the cell door unlocked, and her skin black. She leaves her cell, and walks down the street, but no one seems to notice that the color of her skin has changed.

At the same time, Tom and James discover that Monica is missing. The crowd gathers in the townsquare to meet the bus carrying Rosa Parks, and Monica, still unrecognized, begins to ask the members of the committee if they know where she can find Mooney, which, of course, makes them nervous. Monica returns to the dirt road, hoping to find Tess and some direction, but instead she encounters the Foleys, the men suspected of killing Mooney. Upset that Mooney’s murder isn’t causing a stir, they plan to kill Monica and leave the body in a more prominent location. Monica flees and, when she stumbles and starts to bleed, she realizes that she is human and becomes very afraid. With the Foleys drawing near, Monica prays that God will make her white again. When the Foleys find Monica, her skin has become white, and they leave confused.

Monica weeps, beginning to comprehend her failure. Monica insists on speaking with Rosa Parks, who invites Monica to sit on the bus with her. Monica tearfully recounts her situation to an understanding Ms. Parks, and Tess appears, telling Monica that she too made a mistake by giving up on God, and that He has forgiven both of them. Tess tells Monica that she first had to confront the racism in herself before she can help this town. With newfound confidence, Monica reveals herself to Tom and James, encouraging them to be honest with each other about their own prejudices. After a heartfelt talk, the men announce the death of Mooney to the town, and Monica lays flowers on Mooney’s grave resolving to thank him when she sees him for helping to open her eyes.

 

 

Episode 523: “Full Circle”

Monica re-enters the life of a former assignment, Kate Prescott, who has spent the last few years of her life waiting for her son, Thomas, to return home. When Monica was last with the Prescotts, Thomas had been falsely accused of murdering a young woman, and Kate doubted her son’s innocence. Later, Thomas was cleared, and Kate has since felt guilty for not trusting her son. Now, Kate’s neighborhood is being leveled to make way for a highway, but she won’t sell her house to the government, wanting to remain there in case Thomas should return.

Monica appears to Kate to tell her that her prayers have been answered, that Thomas is returning home. Thomas arrives at the house with a surprise, his seven-year old son Dylan. At first Thomas seems to have changed his shady ways and accepted responsibility as a father, but Monica learns he is doing drugs and tries to warn Kate. Kate is unwilling to believe the truth about her son, and she finally agrees to sell the house. While taking a walk in the park, Kate tries to encourage Thomas to buy a coffee cart from Tess, as a means to start making some money. Thomas, however, is more interested in working a deal with an old drug buddy. Thomas tells Kate that he needs the government money to buy a coffee cart, and Kate, seeing this as a second chance to trust her son, gives it to him. Instead he arranges to use the money to conduct the drug deal.

Kate spends more time with Dylan, learns that his mother was abusive, and appeals to Thomas to spend a little more time with his son. Thomas reads Dylan the story of David and Goliath, a story they both enjoy because it involves a little guy who stands up to a big problem. The next day Thomas goes to the park to meet his contact, and Dylan goes him as well. Tess arrives at the Prescott house and tells Kate that Thomas said he wasn’t interested in the coffee carts. Kate feels stupid for having trusted him again, and she and Monica rush to the park to find him in the middle of the deal. They arrive to find Thomas being arrested by undercover cops. Dylan throws a stone at one of the cops, giving Thomas a chance to flee. While trying to stop Thomas, Kate is accidentally shot by a cop, yet Thomas continues to run.

At the hospital Kate is rushed into surgery, and Andrew pleads with her to cling to life. Monica finds Thomas walking on the railroad tracks, despairing over his actions, and contemplating suicide. As a train draws near, Monica reveals herself to be an angel and tells him that God is willing to give him another chance, that by taking his life he will be taking part of his mother’s and his son’s lives with him. Thomas, asking God for another chance, steps off the tracks. At the hospital, Kate’s surgery is successful. Thomas asks Kate for a second chance and, knowing that he has had an authentic encounter with God, she is willing to give him one. Before the police arrest Thomas, he hugs Dylan, telling him that he must go and “fight Goliath.”

 

 

Episode 522: “Fighting The Good Fight”

 

In a run-down apartment complex, eleven-year-old Tim endures being teased by his older brother Steven as they try to sleep on a fold-out couch. Uncle Frank, the boys’ reluctant guardian, threatens to beat them if they leave the house while he is gone for the night. As he does every night, Frank takes the vicious pit-bull he keeps chained outside the door with him and leaves. Monica, Tess, Andrew, and Rafael are on hand for this assignment, but Rafael notes they may need someone else’s help, someone who, unlike themselves, actually knows what it is like to be a child and have to fight to survive.

The next morning, Frank returns with the dog and prepares to sleep on the same couch as the boys go to school, demanding them to come home late so he can sleep longer. After school, Steven taunts and punches Tim and won’t let him hang out with his gang of friends. Instead, Tim wanders into Tess’ gym, where Rafael and Tess train boxers. Tim, wanting to be able to beat up Steven, begins to train. Later, Tim makes friends with Andrew, the new handyman at the complex. That night Steven complains of a headache and then collapses while trying to get out of bed. Tim panics. At the hospital, Tim learns from Monica that Steven has meningitis, a disease affecting his brain, and that he will be in the hospital for quite some time.

Tim, tired of being pushed around, is glad to get a vacation from his brother. Tim gets a hooded sweatshirt from Goodwill, but a bully named Jimmy recognizes the sweatshirt as his own and forcefully removes it from Tim. This only gives Tim more incentive to train with Rafael, and he does, becoming stronger everyday. At the gym, he sees a poster of Muhammad Ali, who Tim really admires because he always won his fights. Andrew tells Tim the story of Muhammad Ali’s greatest fight: how Ali refused to fight in a war because he believed God didn’t want him to kill another man, and how, because of this, he was made to give up his boxing title.

Later, Tim sees Jimmy and, using his new skills, forces him to return the shirt. Tim learns that his brother is returning from the hospital and plans to bully Steven the way he used to bully Tim, but is surprised to find Steven in a wheelchair with constant need of Tim’s assistance. Later, Jimmy’s brother challenges Tim to a fight, and they agree to meet at Tess’ gym. Tim fights the older, bigger boy and wins, collapsing into Andrew’s arms, sobbing. Andrew tells him that God loves him, and reveals Muhammad Ali standing in the ring. Tess speaks for Ali, telling Tim that he must fight for his family. Steven and Frank love him, but they are unable to show it and don’t know how to care for each other. Tess reads Tim a poem about fighting for love, and Ali hugs Tim, telling him not to forget this. Tim returns home and confronts Frank, telling him that he loves him, but that Frank must take better care of them. Touched and wanting to change, Frank begins to cook breakfast for his family. Andrew assures Frank that guardian angels will be watching over them.

 

 

Episode 521: “Made in the U.S.A.”

Nick Stratton, owner of Stratton Apparel, hires Vietnamese women to work in his sweatshop because they are willing to work for little pay. Monica’s assignment is to help Nick, a “good man with a bad attitude.” Nick hires Monica as his accountant the same day that Am-Nhac Nguyen starts at the factory, pressing pants on a faulty steam press. Am-Nhac and the other women are willing to work for Nick because he will pay for citizenship classes if they meet their rigorous daily quotas. Tess, who teaches the class, tells Am-Nhac that her father, Cadao, can attend as well.

The next day Nick, under pressure from his clients, raises the quotas, and Am-Nhac, in a hurry to meet hers, severely burns her arm. Nick fires Am-Nhac because her injury will slow her down. Monica asks Nick why he is so hard on his workers, and Nick tells her his story. As a soldier, Nick helped a captured Vietnamese boy escape. Nick knew the boy was not Viet Cong because he had a peace symbol, an American fad, tattooed on his shoulder. Nick was court-martialed for aiding the enemy and returned to the U.S. a war criminal. His uncle left the factory to him when he died. Monica convinces Nick to let Am-Nhac keep her job. Am-Nhac, with Tess’ help, works through the night to meet her quota.

When Cadao picks her up, Nick sees the tattoo on his shoulder, a peace symbol. Nick realizes that Cadao is the boy he helped escape, and the person, Nick believes, who is responsible for ruining his life. Meanwhile, Tess teaches her students about how the early Americans protested against British rule, and Am-Nhac decides to protest the dangerous working conditions at the factory. The plan backfires, however, when Nick fires everyone. When Andrew, posing as an I.R.S. agent, explains that Nick owes the government several thousand dollars in back taxes, Nick plants a time bomb in the factory. Before he can leave, however, one of the rickety shelves collapses, trapping Nick. Seconds before the bomb is to detonate, the timer stops ticking and Monica appears to Nick. She tells him that God loves him and is proud of him for saving the young man’s life.

Nick asks God to forgive him for the hatred he has lived with for so long. The clock begins ticking again and when Nick screams for help, Am-Nhac arrives with Cadao, who diffuses the bomb. Nick asks Am-Nhac for forgiveness and reveals that he is the soldier who helped Cadao in Vietnam. Am-Nhac and Cadao are happy to finally be able to thank him for his act of kindness. Later, Nick attends the swearing-in ceremony for Am-Nhac and her Cadao, finally United States citizens.

Episode 520: “Into The Fire”

Monica meets her next assignment, Melina Richardson at her latest temp job, a telemarketing agency. When the usually meek Melina is fired for yelling at a potential customer, she decides to attend a seminar of the Golden Path Institute hoping to find meaning in her life. After an impassioned speech by the Golden Path’s Jacob, Melina shares her life’s story with the crowd, describing how her parents deserted her, and her fiance left her at the altar. The culmination of the seminar is the introduction of the Golden Path’s leader, the charismatic Brother David, who persuades the attendees who “feel called” to board a bus bound for the institute. Melina, captivated by Brother David, gets on the bus. Tess tells Monica to stay close to her assignment.

At the institute, Monica and Melina are stripped of their possessions because Brother David feels it is important to leave the past behind. Melina, however, secretly keeps a picture of her ex-fiance under her bed. When David finds the picture, he summons a meeting of the whole group and exposes Melina’s transgression forcing her to destroy the picture. Meanwhile, a mail truck arrives at the institute with letters for everyone, but Brother David collects them before they can be distributed. Later he asks Melina to destroy a package for him. Melina, unaware that it contains the mail, begins to burn the package. At the same time, Andrew, acting as a Child Services officer, asks to inspect the camp. David angrily refuses. Andrew warns David that he will have to return with the authorities. In private, Monica shows Melina and Rebecca the letters she rescued from the fire, and Rebecca explains Brother David’s plan: On September 9, 1999 all of the world’s computers will crash causing an extinction-level event. Brother David will save his faithful followers before this happens by taking them to heaven in a suicide pact.

In an effort to prove to the group that Brother David has been lying to them, Monica gives the people their letters. When David finds out, he is furious but persuades the people that this is the outside world’s attempt to divide them. Softening, he asks Melina to be his bride and, spellbound, she agrees. David insists that the plan go into action right away because the police are already approaching the camp. Trained for this moment, the people spring into action, barricade the doors, and prepare the poisoned juice. But as they are about to drink, Monica proclaims herself to be an angel, and tells the people that God doesn’t want them to die.

David tells the people that she is the devil trying to mislead them, but the people believe Monica and led by Melina, they try to escape. David sets fire to the building. Monica breaks the doors open and the people pour out of the smoke-filled room. Monica tries to persuade Brother David to leave the burning building, but still believing his own claims of divinity, he will not. He perishes in the fire. Later the angels help the shaken cult members reacquaint themselves using their real names and identities.

 

 

Episode 519: “Jagged Edges”

Andrew helps an older man, Doug, clean out his garage, searching for a box he wants to give to his daughter, Natalie. Doug has a heart attack, and as he is dying, Andrew assures him that God’s angels will be on hand to deliver the box to Natalie. When Natalie, a stand-up comic, hears of Doug’s death, she returns home with her infant daughter Lily to organize her father’s things. Natalie begins to have flashbacks about her deceased mother, and how when Natalie was young, she would play the piano incessantly. Andrew tries to persuade Natalie to help him clean the garage and find the box, but she is unwilling to go into the garage. To get a break from her intense memories, Natalie goes to a comedy club to perform.

Meanwhile, at a local hospital, Monica and Tess talk about how Natalie will react to learning her father’s secret — that Amanda, her mother, is not dead, but has been institutionalized for many years. Natalie, indeed, is shocked to learn this and that Amanda, after a slow recovery from mental illness, is almost ready to return home. Natalie goes to the hospital to meet Amanda, who convinced herself Natalie was dead, and, though she doesn’t realize Natalie is her daughter, the visit makes her very nervous and she begins to play the piano feverishly. This frightens Natalie and she quickly leaves the hospital. Back at the garage, Natalie discovers the box, which contains a metronome. As the metronome begins to tick, Natalie accidentally closes the garage door, triggering a horrifying memory about how, when she was seven, Amanda locked Natalie and herself in the garage with the motor running. By the time Andrew arrives Natalie fully recollects that her mother tried to kill her.

Monica explains Amanda’s illness — how after she lost a baby Amanda blamed herself to the point of illness, and how she wanted to die, but didn’t want to leave Natalie behind. Natalie returns to the hospital and with the angels’ help, convinces Amanda that she is still alive. Overjoyed, Amanda moves to hug Natalie, but Natalie, unable to handle the emotion, flees to the comedy club. While onstage, though, Natalie has a nervous breakdown. Monica reveals herself to be an angel, and comforts Natalie, telling her that God loves her, and that she must break down the fake life she has created to protect herself, before God can help her build a new life. Natalie admits her fear — that she inherited her mother’s illness. She was scared to love her own baby — now she knows why. Later, Natalie, recuperating at the hospital from the breakdown, performs her stand-up routine for the other patients while Amanda watches proudly. Natalie introduces Amanda to her granddaughter and tells her mother that she inherited something very important from her — her sense of humor.

 

Episode 518: “Family Business”

On their 35th wedding anniversary, Ben and Sylvia Mangione, owners of a car dealership, host a huge sale. Monica and Tess are on hand to help the Mangione family, and Phil, the angel of reconciliation, will assist them, if the perennially late angel ever arrives. Mangione Auto World is a family business, with daughters Ellen and Dee Dee and Ellen’s husband Frankie all working there. But one of the children, Buddy, moved to California several years ago, refusing to take over the family business, much to Ben’s chagrin.

During the sale, Buddy calls to say he is returning for the anniversary with a big announcement to make. Frank is upset that Buddy is returning because he thinks it may spoil his chances for taking over the dealership. Indeed, Ben hopes Buddy is returning to take over the dealership. At the anniversary party Tess plays with the band, filling in for the still tardy Phil, while Monica caters the event. Soon, however, the police show up to let the family know that Buddy has been killed in a car crash. Ben and Frank are called to identify Buddy’s remains but, since the corpse has been badly burned, they identify his personal effects. Rather than grieve, the family argues over Buddy’s funeral arrangements.Ben insists on returning to work, where he meets Sharon, a young woman claiming to be Buddy’s wife. The family thinks this must be Buddy’s big surprise, but is upset when Sharon wants to have the body cremated. Monica helps them strike a bargain — Buddy will be buried if Sharon performs the eulogy at the service.

Meanwhile, Andrew finds Phil and offers to give him a lift into town. They are further detained when the car overheats, but are offered help by a hitchhiker who is eagerly trying to get to town. They offer him a lift. At the funeral, Sharon delivers the eulogy, recalling a touching memory about how Buddy saved the life of a beached whale. Before she can finish, though, the hitchhiker arrives. It’s Buddy! The family is shocked to see him alive and he explains how his car was stolen and he had to hitchhike into town. Rather than rejoice that his son is alive, Ben wants to know if Buddy is ready to take over the business. Buddy says ‘no,’ and a furious Ben returns to the dealership where Monica is waiting for him.

Monica reveals that she is an angel and takes him back to the funeral parlor where she finishes the eulogy. The eulogy reveals the big surprise, that Buddy has cancer and will soon die. Phil finally arrives to tell a shocked Ben that God wants him to stop keeping such a tight hold on his family. Phil points out that many fathers wish they could have the gift that Ben has: the chance to spend one more hour with his son, to tell him all of the things he wished he had said when he was alive. Buddy arrives at the funeral parlor, and Ben embraces his son, asking for forgiveness and expressing his love.