Cashing Spirits in at the Casino

“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!” ~ Henry Scott Holland (1847 – 1918)

Over the Labor Day weekend, Frank, Arla and I decided to test our luck. With money in hand, we drove one Sunday evening to the local casino, in hopes to walk out as millionaires! However, we would be satisfied if we left as dollarnaires!

Once at the casino, each of us headed into a different direction and soon settled into our favorite slot machine, where we began the process of watching those reels roll before our eyes, one stopping after another in hopes of seeing ‘BIG WIN!” appear on our slot machine. A while later, I hear Frank say over my shoulder, “I suck! I’m getting my ass whipped!” This is Frank’s usual announcement that he’s not winning and the slots are taking all his money. Frank, as he always does, decided to walk around the casino to watch others at their lady luck. Frank finds himself in front of the Baccarat table and, although watching intently, he doesn’t understand how the game is played. He continues to watch the call man shuffle out the cards, studying intensely trying to figure out the concept, when a woman, who is standing very close to him asked, “Do you know how to play Baccarat?” Frank shared with her that he doesn’t understand the game. She begins going over the rules and narrates over the call man’s moves, explaining the game more in detail to Frank. Smiling, Frank shared that he still doesn’t understand the game.

Clipart - Baccarat Table

Not having any luck ourselves, Arla and I decided to move around the casino, looking for another slot machine to play on. The casino was starting to get rather crowded, so finding another machine and sitting there, was the best option. When it was crowded, slots were hard to find and play. Bumping and moving in and around people were becoming mandatory. Walking around, we noticed that Frank was speaking to a woman at the Baccarat table. We didn’t think much of it, as Frank will speak with anyone, anytime, anywhere. Frank has a magnetic personality that will draw anyone with a conversation toward him. I always teased that Frank would talk to a light pole if he knew he could get a response in return. I would always comment to Arla when I see Frank chatting with a stranger… “Awwww, Look. Dad’s making a new friend again!” Maneuvering our way around them, we continued with our quest to find the perfect slot machine while they continued talking.

The hours were passing by. I hit the machine one last time. Whack, clack, clack, clack. I watched the last reel come to a stop, signaling that the last remaining cash I had in the machine was now owned by the casino. I suck and I got my ass whipped! With Arla matching suit, we decided to call it a night. We called Frank to tell him to meet us by the front doors of the casino. We were ready to go home. He said he was on his way.

Arla and I stood by the front door. Watching the main aisle of the casino, we waited for Frank to come strolling by. Standing there for over ten minutes waiting for Frank, we decided to give him another call. “Where are you?!” Answering, he said, he would be right there; he’s on his way. Another five minutes had passed. Finally, Arla and I decided to head to the truck. Not being able to play anymore, we were tired of hearing over the loud speaker, “Another big win!”

Clipart - Slot Machine Big Win

As we settled into the truck, we continued to wait. Both Arla and I wondered what was taking Frank so long. Another five minutes go by and Frank finally came walking out of the casino heading our way. Once inside, we asked, “What in the hell took you so long?!” That’s when Frank proceeded to tell us, “You’ll never believe what just happened to me.”

Not seeing any money clenched in Frank’s fist, I quickly determined that he must be talking about something else. I could tell that he was excited about something and his words, along with his mind, didn’t know where to start. As I’m driving away from the casino parking lot, I can hear in Frank’s voice that he was shaken, almost on the verge of tears.

As I begin to drive home, Frank begins to share the reason that he was detained. He was having a conversation with a woman, the same woman that Arla and I saw him with earlier that evening. Little did Frank know that this conversation would forever change his life and beliefs.

As Frank continued to study the Baccarat table, he finally responded to the woman’s question. “Do you know how to play Baccarat?” The woman asked. As Frank confessed, he noticed that the woman was standing very close to him. “No, I just can’t seem to get the hang of the game and that’s why I stick to the slot machines,” Frank said. “You can win at Baccarat if you study the board,” she said. As she explained the rules, she proceeded to pull out a wad of money that she had stashed in her bra. Showing Frank, she shared that she had just won a thousand dollars playing the table. “How old do you think I am,” she asked next. Frank thought for a moment and assumed she was in her early sixties. Tucking the money back into her bra, the woman announced that she was in her mid eighties, as if she was proud of her looks and age. Frank complimenting her, he shared with her that she didn’t look her age whatsoever. They continued to make additional small talk.  She stood very close to Frank, touching his arm, becoming elbow-to-elbow with Frank. The Baccarat woman slowly turned to Frank, looked him in the eye and asked him one simple question. “Do you have a brother named Eugene?” Surprised by her question, Frank took a step back and said, “Why yes, I do, but he passed away two years ago in a motor cycle accident.” The Baccarat woman replied, “Yes, I know, he’s standing here next to me, to my right and he wanted to say hello.” Frank’s conversation with the Baccarat woman went from a casual one to now a spiritual one.

“If I put my mind to something, it happens. I do know that’s not necessarily psychic. But I always feel like there’s something around me protecting me.” ~ Amy Sedaris

As Frank is telling us what had happened, I heard Arla in the back seat of the truck asking, “Dad, what was her name?” “I didn’t get her name. I mean, I don’t remember, I don’t know, everything happened so fast!” Frank responded. “You mean she was telling you about Uncle Eugene and you didn’t even get her name?” Arla shouted out! As I’m listening to Frank’s story and concentrating on driving home in the darkness, even I piped in and asked why on earth didn’t he get her name? “Why didn’t you call me?” “Does she do this for a living?”

As Frank continued with his story, I can tell that he was wound up and he was very animated. The Baccarat woman’s question left Frank stunned. Of all the names he could have heard, it had to be his late brother Eugene’s, the brother he was the closest with, the brother that he had recently lost, the one he missed dearly. As the noise of the casino floor continued around them, Frank decided to ask his own question, “Do you have the gift?” “Yes, I do. I am a medium,” she replied, “but I don’t charge for it”. The woman, who was now in need of a cigarette, wanted to go to the smoking room, where she asked Frank to go with her. Frank shared that he doesn’t smoke, but she commented that she wouldn’t be long. Besides, it gave them a chance to be away from the noise of the casino floor. Frank followed her. Sitting in the smoker’s room, the Baccarat woman lit up a cigarette and continued her reading with Frank, not so much in a question format, but more as a matter of fact, as she was sure of herself and the messages that she was receiving from the other side.

The Baccarat woman proceeded to share with Frank that Eugene’s accident was of a bizarre nature and that Eugene was actually going very, very slow at the time that his motorcycle left the roadway, not speeding as people would have suspected, especially by his injuries she felt he had. Frank validated this. She went on to ask Frank if he smoked Pot. Frank said no and because of his job, he couldn’t. She confirmed that Eugene did, and a lot, when he was in Vietnam. Frank’s now trying to figure out how she knew he was in Vietnam. The Baccarat woman then told Frank that Eugene use to have a cat. However, this cat was different she said. It was a fat cat, an extremely over weight cat. A cat that was like 40 pounds fat. As Frank sat there, he validated that it was true. He told her that Eugene use to have a cat and the cat’s name was Sylvester and that yes the cat was huge. She confirmed with Frank that Eugene use to wear glasses, but not anymore. She said, “ Eugene no longer wears glasses because Heaven is perfect and there’s no need for glasses there.”

Arla and Sylvester 1

Sylvester the Fat Cat

Arla and Sylvester 2

The Baccarat woman asked Frank, “Who is Steve? Eugene is with someone named Steve.”

When Eugene had passed, Frank and I were looking up old friends of Eugene’s in hopes that we could connect with them to share of Eugene’s passing. However, while looking up online, we had discovered that his friend, Steve K. also passed, but years before Eugene did. Frank and I felt this was the Steve that she was referring to. Confirming with the Baccarat woman that Eugene use to ride with a friend named Steve, she, too, felt that this was the same person Eugene was with.

I heard Arla from the backseat of the truck, “Mom, turn around, you have to go back!” “Let’s see if we can find her.” Arla said this more than once. Looking into my side mirror, I checked my lane for traffic. I was contemplating to go back to the casino to find the Baccarat woman, to see what she was all about, to see if she was real, to meet her myself. In a split decision, I almost did, but I decided to move on, heading home while Frank continued telling us his unbelievable story.

“I look up to the sky and talk to you. What I wouldn’t give to hear you talk back. I miss your voice, I miss your laughter, I miss everything about you!” ~ Author Unknown

Frank couldn’t believe that what the Baccarat woman had said was all true. He verified that everything she was telling him was all facts. Frank wanted to send a message to Eugene. Frank had asked the Baccarat woman to give Eugene a message, that his family missed him and that we all loved him so very much. She shared the message and had one in return. “Tell everyone that I am fine. I am doing well and I am just fine,” Eugene said. The Baccarat woman also went onto tell Frank that Eugene said to keep doing what he’s doing, in his job, and in his life.

By now, Frank was in a complete spiritual shock. He was trying to figure out how she knew all of this information. He knew he never saw this woman before and even at one point thought, did she personally know Eugene herself? Perhaps, she thought he was Eugene, as all the Morin boys tend to look alike. Frank decided to accept her gift as a spiritual intervention and that Eugene was letting him know that he had made it to heaven and that he was doing well and just wanted to check in.

The Baccarat woman also shared other pieces of information that Frank wasn’t too sure about and didn’t have an immediate response to. She asked if he knew women by the names of Candace, as well as Sue, but these names didn’t sound familiar to Frank nor his family when asked. Nobody could make the connection. Sue was also saying hello to Frank and even commented the Baccarat woman that Sue really liked Frank.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the night before we went to the casino, Frank said that he had spoken to Eugene’s wife, Carol. Carol went to the bank to take some things from the security box. There, inside, she found Eugene’s watch. She felt that Frank would like to have it and this was the reason they had spoke that evening, the night before the casino.

Eugene may not have been there in Frank’s physical world that Sunday evening, but I do believe that Eugene was there, sharing facts, in spirit. The Baccarat woman could have shared any other name when asking Frank about a brother, but she didn’t. She mentioned the name Eugene. I believe this was a sign that Eugene was near and he wanted to make contact. Perhaps, Frank thinking of Eugene and encountering the medium at the casino was the most opportune time for Eugene to connect with Frank, to let him know he was near and always will be.

Even though Frank didn’t walk away with a “big win” and lots of cash that evening, I feel he did walk away as a millionaire in other ways, which was won through knowledge, validation and contentment.

I believe that our friends and family who have passed on are always with us, in our minds, our lives, our hearts. They share messages with us all the time, however, our eyes and mind must be open to receive. They may appear in the form of a fluttering butterfly, that special cologne they always wore or that special song that suddenly appeared on the radio.

We are never alone and we will never forget. They are our guardian angels, our protectors, our confidants. I know the reading wasn’t meant for me that evening nor was it meant for Arla. Therefore, it didn’t matter if we turned back or not. Simply, it was a message meant for Frank. Two souls who were meant to make a connection that evening. In some giant way, I hope that Frank’s message from his brother, Eugene, has shown Frank that life can be kind, joyous and full of love, regardless of the hardships that we may face in our daily lives or the loved ones that we may have lost. These learning lessons are what make us stronger; the people we are today, they are a part of life’s struggles and, if we have faith, hope and love, especially from others, then we can conquer the world regardless of what stepping stones are thrown in our path. I pray that Eugene’s message has enlightened Frank’s heart, opened it up where he can learn to love and be happy again. I’m hoping that this is the message that Frank needs in order to see beauty and peace, not only in the world, but all around him, to open his heart to kindness, to see all love that surrounds him.

“There is no death, only a change of worlds.” ~ Duwamish, Native American Indian Tribe

Eugene with Frank in Kitchen

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My Spiritual Angels

My Spiritual Angels

My prayers begin with my Spiritual Angels who are Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Uncle Bub, Father Charles, Geno and Dedac, asking them to look over me and my family, keeping us happy, healthy and safe.

The English word “angel” is derived from the Greek word “angelos,” which means “messenger.” The faithful from the world’s major religions believe that angels are messengers from God, who carry out tasks that God assigns them to perform here on Earth.  I believe in angels, as well as their messages and am comforted to know that guardian angels are looking over me, as well as my family.

For me, messages have come to me in all forms, such as butterflies, the smell of roofing tar, perfume, body smells, flickering lights and even to the loud cracking of thunder and lightning. I remember when I was young living on my grandparents’ farm, I would lie down for the evening and study the darkness within the room. It was dark, still and the only thing I could hear was the ticking of my grandfather’s windup clock in the other room, with the “tick” always sounding slightly different from the “tock.”  I would gaze above me, staring out into the darkness toward the ceiling, Shortly later, I would begin to see stars within the darkness, red ones, blue ones and they would swirl around in front of me, all in uniform, almost as if they were dancing for me. At times, I felt like I could manipulate their movement. Although, I was not afraid of them, I never reached out to touch them, even though they were close enough for me to do so. I learned that these could have been Sparkle Angels.1   I wasn’t sure why I was seeing these stars, but they were comforting. This happened on many occasions and I would watch them perform before me until I fell off to sleep.

Sparkle Angel Stars

The Woman in Church…

“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I sat there quietly in St. Pricilla’s Church, waiting for the services to begin. It was a special day, as it was the day that Arlaraye was accepting her sacrament of Holy Communion, in the very same church that I had received mine just several years before. Sitting by my side, Arlaraye was nervous, but excited, too. She looked beautiful in her white dress and veil, along with her white petite gloves to match.

The church is quiet. There was a sense of comfortableness, a serenity. I looked up onto the altar at the more than life-size statue of Jesus, as his palms and feet were pierced with nails that attached him to his wooden cross. As I have done so many times before, I began to get emotional, as I watched him suspend above me.  I began to thank him silently for all that he has done for me, his protection and loving grace. “Thank you… I am here because of you…”

My eyes began to scan the church.  Pew by pew. I see parents and family members come to rest in their seats, as they, too, wait for the ceremony to begin. Having occasional eye contact with another parishioner, I politely nod and extend a smile.  My eyes continued to drift a couple of rows ahead, to the front pew, where I see a woman sitting in front of me. Her back was to me, but I recognized her immediately.  She was a larger woman, who sat there wearing a weathered windbreaker. Her shoulders slumped forward toward the floor as she sat, as if her troubles weighed her down. Her hair was thin, gray and dressed in a ponytail that sat high on the back of her head. I immediately turned to Arlaraye and secretively announced, “The woman in the front pew looks just like Granny Lambert!” Arlaraye spotted her immediately and turned to me and said, “Oh my, you’re right, she does!”  Almost instinctively, as if this woman knew that we were watching her, she slowly turned her head toward us, glancing over her right shoulder at Arlaraye and me.  Staring at us both, it felt as if she was validating our suspicions that, yes, she was the person who we thought she was… my mother, who just happened to have passed away years earlier in 2001, just days after the 911 attacks. Her stare felt as if it lasted forever, but it was only for a couple of seconds, when she quietly turned her head back around to face the front of the church. This woman was somber and showed no emotion, carrying not one smile on her face whatsoever, almost robotic.  It was then that I shared with Arlaraye that Grandma Lambert didn’t want to miss her special day, and that she made a physical appearance to be there that day.  The church services began and the day’s events were soon underway.  Two hours later, everyone was filing their way out of the church to continue on with their Communion celebrations.  By now, I had totally forgotten about the women in the front pew. It wasn’t until we got home to continue on with our own celebration that I had asked Frank if he happened to have seen the woman himself.  He did and thought the same thing as I had, that it was the mirror image of my mother, who was coming to share in our day of blessings.

“There is no death. Only a change of worlds.” ~ Chief Seattle

Name that Tune…Music Notes - Peace Train

“When you wake up with a song stuck in your head, it means an angel sang you to sleep.” ~ Denise Baer

Frank and I were having a time in our marriage where arguing was a part of daily life.   The daily stresses in our lives, with our jobs, finances, as well as everyday frustrations, were taking a toll on our relationship, more so with Frank.  I have positivity that flows through my veins… Frank simply doesn’t.  Life can serve you a huge bowl of hot steamy turd soup sometimes, but it’s all up to you if you want to accept it. The littlest things were making him angry, which he usually expressed toward me. I hated living in this poisonous atmosphere and knew that it needed to change. Life, with its many challenges was definitely playing a hand in our lives.

I believe our loved ones, who have passed, are with us at all times, especially, if we welcome the idea and invite them into our lives to do so.  I am always asking for signs, anything that I can relate to, to know that it is really them and that they are trying to communicate with me. Laying my head down for the evening, it wasn’t long before I drifted off to sleep and started to dream…

… I am now in Stoughton, Wisconsin, the city in which I lived with my grandparents. I was standing outside the Woolworth’s store that we frequented whenever we went into town. There I stood by the doors and granny was standing with me. She looked wonderful, with her hair combed neatly, pushing it back from her face with one of her elastic headbands that, no doubt, she picked up from Woolworth’s on one of our many shopping trips. She looked exactly as how I remembered her when growing up. There was a song playing in the background, as if it was being pumped directly into the air from speakers that were connected to the Woolworth’s store. It was familiar to me, it sounded pleasant and I knew I heard the song before, but I was having trouble in my dream as I was trying to name that tune.

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~ Mother Teresa

Granny is now standing before me. She wears a genuine smile on her face, but her eyes were serious. Granny speaks to me mentally; I didn’t see her lips move at all.  She was letting me know that the arguing between Frank and me needed to stop. It wasn’t good and not healthy for our relationship. As I stood there in front of her, taking in all her thoughts, I acknowledged her words of wisdom, while at the same time, listening to the song that continued to play behind me.

“Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” ~Ludwig van Beethoven

It wasn’t long after seeing granny in my dream that I had woken up.  I could still hear the beat of the song from my dream in my ears, along with the message that granny was trying to extend. Lying in my bed, I repeated the melody, playing the sound over and over in my head.  It was moments later when I finally remembered the name of the song and was able to name the tune that was playing in my dream.  The song was by Cat Stevens titled, “Peace Train.”  It was now I who wore a smile across my face, just like granny had done in my dream. I believed that there was a purpose to granny’s visit, there was a message that she needed to share and it was a message of Peace. I took granny’s message to heart and found it very symbolic that not only was granny trying to send me a message through her own words, but through one of my favorite Cat Steven’s songs as well. I needed to find peace, whether it was with Frank or just through myself.

“While we are sleeping, angels have conversations with our souls”. ~Author Unknown

A Call From Katie…

Phone

I have been assisting and working with some of the doctors in my office for over 23 years now. One develops a rapport after so many years of working together, where you learn about their personalities, lives, and even their families. When we had our own practice, it truly was a “work family” and it was an enjoyable time being with my co-workers on a daily basis. It was a rarity where I’d say, “I don’t want to go to work today.” I enjoyed going to work because they weren’t only my co-workers; they were my very good friends.

Several years ago, while at work, we received devastating news. It was a sad time in the office for everyone. We had found out that one of the physicians, who we worked closely with for so many years, lost his daughter, Katie. (For privacy issues, I will just call him Doctor, Sadly, Kathie passed away very unexpectedly and at a young age where death should be inconceivable.  My husband, Frank knew Katie, as he also worked with the same physician practice for many years himself.  Over the years, both Frank and I would see Katie around the office visiting.  We watched her mature from a little girl into a  beautiful young woman. I spoke with Katie many times over the years, as she called the office asking to speak with her father.  Either Doctor was in his office or in clinic seeing patients and we knew to connect her to him directly when she called.  Upon hearing the news of her passing, everyone’s heart was saddened, not only for Katie, but also for the Doctor, who we notably saw him carry his own sorrow deep within his broken heart.

A couple of years had passed on and it was such a busy time for the office, as our medical practice in which we worked was moving to another hospital. We were on a deadline and everyone was busy cleaning and packing up physicians’ offices, as well as their own cubicle and space. Items were being purged and furniture was being moved. Needless to say, busy was an understatement. Items were being wrapped and packed and desks were being moved directly under all our noses.  You sat at a desk and five minutes later, it was gone, packed, stacked on a dolly and headed for the truck ready to be moved.

You could see the nails and holes in the walls, where a scenic picture hung and was once displayed or nametags on doors that were ripped from their holders, leaving many marred and naked walls behind. I felt as if I was leaving a home that I had lived in for fifty years.

With every office key that was turned in, there was another avalanche of tears being shed for the friends and co-workers that you would no longer be working with. One after another, they were being escorted out of the building, with their own personal box of belongings underneath their arm, hitting the elevator button for the ground floor, as they left their work place forever behind.

There is one particular day that I will never forget. It was my turn to cover the front reception desk for breaks and lunches. I came up to relieve Anne so that she could go to lunch. It was a very busy day and movers were being escorted from office to office, elevator doors were on a constant open and close cycle and the phones were ringing non-stop, and all of this while still trying to conduct a normal day of business and meetings.  As I pointed where one visitor needed to go and while telling a mover what office needed to be moved next, I picked up the endless ringing phone to an incoming call that I will always remember, but at the time, I wouldn’t realize how important that phone call would be.   “Good afternoon, this is CINN, how can I help you?” The caller on the other end said, “Hi, this is Katie, I heard my father is looking for me.”  With that, I placed her on hold and told her that I’d look for him. I knew Katie as the Doctor’s daughter and, as I have always done in the past, I do my best to locate him and connect the call.  Calling into the Doctor’s office, there was no answer. I was going to call down to the clinic, but I was so busy with the front desk that I decided to call the Doctor’s assistant, Patty, instead, letting her know that I have Katie holding on the line for him and if she knew where he was at and, perhaps, she would be able to direct the call herself. Upon delivering my question, I found that Patty was stumbling for words. Patty shared with me that Doctor was in clinic and suddenly said that she would have to call me back. As I was about to forward Katie directly to clinic, so she could speak with her father, I picked up the line to let her know what I was doing.  “Katie, I was told that your father was in clinic, I can transfer you there…”  It was only a few seconds later that I realized that Katie was no longer on the line and all I heard was a dial tone.  I felt terrible that I had left her hold on for so long and that she was no longer there.

When Anne got back from her lunch break, I decided to go see Patty, to let her know that I was unsuccessful in trying to transfer Katie to the Doctor in case she decided to call back again.  Standing in front of Patty, it was at that point that Patty asked me, not once, but twice, “Who did you say was calling for the Doctor?”   I relayed… “It was Katie.”  It was only seconds later, after I said Katie’s name that I had realized what had just occurred.  My hands immediately reached for my mouth, covering, as to not allow another word to escape from my lips, in particular, the name Katie. I immediately realized what I had said and what I almost had done. I was so busy at the front desk, trying to take care of everyone and everything, that I didn’t make the connection that there was no way that the Doctor’s Katie could have called.  I was in such a hectic and robotic frame of mind that I didn’t even think twice about who was on the other end. I heard a young voice that I knew to be Katie’s and I responded accordingly.  I only heard the words, “I heard my father was looking for me” and, with that, I responded in the only manner I knew how, the only way that I have done for over fifteen years; I tried to find her father, the Doctor.  With my hands still over my mouth, I mumbled the words, “Oh my God, Patty! I almost transferred that call directly to the Doctor!” My mind started spinning at the insensitive thoughts of what could have happened if I had done so, if I had accomplished the connection.  What would have the Doctor thought if I had reached him, letting him know his daughter, Katie, was on the phone? I would have been mortified. I was so grateful for the fact that Katie, or whoever she was, had hung up the phone and the call went no further. I stood in Patty’s office completely shaken. Explaining the call to Patty, I was convinced that I heard the name Katie and that’s how the caller introduced herself to me. Also, like so many times before, for so many years, I knew it was the Doctor’s Katie who was calling. This young woman left the impression that she called the office routinely and that we knew who she was and what to do when she called.  There was a confidence about her and I didn’t think twice about the call.

It was then that I looked at Patty and asked… “Who else has a daughter named Katie in the office or the other hospital departments?” Could this Katie have been asking for another father?  I shared my call experience with Anne who took it upon herself to ask throughout the other floors if there was another person who had a daughter named Katie, but the results came back negative. The only Katie that all of us ever knew was the Doctor’s Katie. Could this young woman have had the wrong number?  Possibly.

“He took his time looking around for anything interesting to salvage, but found only broken bits of what once was.” ~ A.B. Shepherd

Patty shared with me that the morning of my mysterious phone call, the Doctor was in his office having a quiet moment before he went to clinic, looking at all the years of memories on his bookshelves. He was smiling at all the pictures, knickknacks and mementos, she said, as he reminisced, almost as if he was stealing one last glimpse of all the special memories that lie upon the shelves, before they were to be packed away into boxes. Surely, his heart and mind brought him to think about his sweet Katie and his mind was lost deep within a moment, a private moment of remembrances. Could these strong feelings conjure up a loved one’s spirits so much to the point that they had to make “contact” regardless of what form it’s in?  Possibly. I believe so.

Messages come to us in all forms. Our eyes and hearts have to be open, along with our minds, in order to see them before us. Whether or not this was to be a message for myself or for Katie’s father, I’m not sure. Perhaps, Katie knew that I am a believer in signs and she sent this one through me.

There are people who are receptive when it comes to spirits, the afterlife, or after death communication (ADC) 3 and then there are some that don’t believe in it at all. My fear was that I would come across as some sort of ghost whisperer or that I can talk to the dead, and the last thing I wanted to do was to offend.  I wanted to respect his mourning; is privacy, therefore, I kept quiet and said nothing at all. However, perhaps, I should have…

… “If you know someone who has lost a child, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died–you’re not reminding them. They didn’t forget they died. What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift.” ~ Elizabeth Edwards

I can’t believe that it’s been years since this phone call. I feel as if we all experienced the loss of Katie just yesterday.  Losing someone you love tremendously can do that, as the pain and memories paint the walls of your heart with permanency. This is why we are blessed with memories, so that we may never forget.

Recently, Frank and I were talking about prayers. How we pray. How we say them. Who we pray to.  Frank demonstrated and began his prayers.  I listened with care, as he listed off those who he prayed for. Among his list, he mentions the name Katie. I knew who the others were, but wasn’t sure who he meant by Katie. It was a heartwarming surprise to learn that Frank prays for Katie and her soul, not only after her passing, but until this very day. Katie’s in his prayers every morning, as Frank has his own private moment with God.

“The angels are always near to those who are grieving, to whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hand of God.” ~Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman

Keep on Rolling… Please!…

I was having problems with my truck last summer.  I find it amazing that the moment you make that final payment to the bank, problems begin to set in.  I have a 2004 Dodge Durango and truly love it, but at one point, it kept dying on me. My poor truck is getting old and, like most things that get old, it was starting to shut down, things breaking down here and there.  If it wasn’t the breaks, it was the power steering. This time, my truck kept stalling in traffic whenever I came to a stop. One of my fears while driving is that I would stall in traffic, stuck directly in the middle of an intersection, where everyone is honking at me and giving me their official hand sign of our state bird!

That particular morning, I decided to pray to my grandfather, asking him to get me to where I needed to go and that my truck would keep moving and not die out in traffic; “keep my wheels a rollin’ grandpa… PLEASE!” This was my chant until I met my destination, as well as asking him to watch over me and keep me safe.  With every stop sign and stop light that I came upon, I worried.  As I got closer to home, I started to feel more confident that I was going to make it.  My prayers were answered because I did make it home safely that afternoon, without any extra unpleasant events added to my day. I was so relieved to be home, thankful that I was able to drive my truck one more day. Frank had an appointment to bring my truck into the mechanic, but not until that weekend.  Until then, my truck was being powered not only by gas, but by prayers, too. I needed my truck to get me to work and back home again.

I was feeling as if things were starting to pile up around me. I was worried how much my truck would cost me to repair. I was worried on whether or not it would get me to work the next day. It was just added worry that I didn’t need to have in my life at the moment.

After settling in at home with a glass of wine, I decided to hop onto Facebook, where I began to post my frustrations of the day regarding my truck.  Upon receiving a few responses, I received a message from my dear friend, Patty.  Patty told me about a news feed that she received on her Facebook home page after she had already commented on my post. She wanted to share it with me, as she knew that I would appreciate it as much as her. You see, Patty believes in a higher spirit as much as I do and we have shared some beautiful conversations together on this very same subject.

“There are many ways our spirit guides can give us signals. Our job is to quiet our minds, open our hearts, and listen.” ~ James VanPraagh

I opened up my message from Patty and she sent me a link to a Facebook page called, “The Things you Would Have Said.” 2  In part, the post read, “ Take Care Jackie and just keep on smiling.  Much Love, Grandpa.” 

I shared with Patty that I had been praying to my grandfather that afternoon, after having truck problems, asking him for his help and protection; to get me where I needed to go and to be safe. I took this message that Patty sent as a sign that he heard my prayers to him and that he was right by my side the whole time and this is the way he decided to let me know.

I truly believe that this message was meant for me and it’s exactly what I needed to read and see at that particular moment. Patty’s absolutely correct.  One never knows how your angels will send you messages.  However, that evening, Patty was my messenger.  Thank you for delivering it my sweet angel!

I shared with Patty that I had been praying to my grandfather that afternoon, after having truck problems, asking him for his help and protection; to get me where I needed to go and to be safe. I took this message that Patty sent as a sign that he heard my prayers to him and that he was right by my side the whole time and this is the way he decided to let me know.

I truly believe that this message was meant for me and it’s exactly what I needed to read and see at that particular moment. Patty’s absolutely correct.  One never knows how your angels will send you messages.  However, that evening, Patty was my messenger.  Thank you for delivering it my sweet angel!

FB Message 2

Love is such a strong bond that travels with us through life and, I believe, even extending through death. What a beautiful gift we have been given to experience the feeling of love for someone so deep that one can literally feel it beating in their hearts. Love doesn’t stop just because our loved ones have stepped from one world into another. I believe our family members are with us always and I find comfort in knowing that. We may not see them physically, but I know that spiritually, they are with us, our protectors, our guardian angels, our messengers and, I personally, cherish every message that I’m sent, just as if they were with us here, in the now.  My spiritual messengers remind me to hold onto my beliefs, faith, my love, as well as reminding me that they are always near.

“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

 

References:

  1. http://thegobetween.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-truth-about-seeing-spirited-sparkles/
  2. https://www.facebook.com/wouldhavesaid
  3. http://www.after-death.com/

Spirits that Surround Me

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.” ~ Brené Brown

I have always believed in spirits, ghosts, the afterlife, whatever you would like to call them, especially since I got older and had the opportunity to learn more about the subject. I believe in After Death Communication (ADC).  I have had many encounters, on what I like to believe, were the spirits of my deceased loved ones.   Whether it was a white mist, a talking doll or softly spoken words… these are just a few of the signs that I have experienced within the last twenty years and, most of them, within my own home, where I live today.

I have found myself to be a spiritual person, more so than a religious one, although I do believe in both wholeheartedly – the afterlife with God in his kingdom, as well as my own personal spiritual one that surround me and fills my world today. I believe it was important for me to accept the rights of baptism and confirmation. These two sacraments not only opened my eyes to how much I love God and how much He loves me, but it has also made me aware of what His world truly has to offer and all the spiritual beauty that He has created. Religiously, as a Catholic, I believe that there are certain rules and restrictions that are expected of me, requests that are asked of me, requirements that are set before me that I should live by and I hope that in every sense of the word I do.   Although, I respect the church and what my religion has to give, I believe that my spiritual side is stronger; it is more of personal one. My feelings as a spiritualist go deeper within my heart and soul and the connection that I have with my God. It is a strong one, a relationship that I truly respect and am blessed to have in my life. As I have expressed in the past, this relationship with God was not one that was taught through the education of a parent but, instead, one that was self taught and through personal discovery. Not only do I find a spiritual connection with God, Himself, but I also find a spiritual connection in the things he has created that surround me, such as the deepest magenta flower that blooms to perfection with beauty and grace. A tree that soars its branches toward the sky as it sways gently with the breeze as if it is waving hello. Or the swollen clouds that dance before me in the sky that embraces and reflects the perfect shades of crimson and payne’s gray, as the sun rests for the evening. These are just a few things that I connect with spiritually and, I do believe, that they were all at the expense of God’s hands.

Because of these spiritual feelings, I don’t believe in the thought that once we die our lives just end, hushing us into a complete darkness and a forever silence, where the life we once knew, the life we once lived and was so familiar with, is simply no more. No more thinking, communicating, no more touching, loving, feeling, no more existing, completely lights out.  There just has to be more once we pass on and I believe that there is, whether it is in God’s kingdom in the Heavens or spiritually through the wings of a butterfly.

As I lay in bed at the end of my day, I have a ritual where I go over my day’s events, things that went right… things that, perhaps, didn’t. As I lay there, I tick off in my head the tasks that I had completed and tick off what yet still needs to be done, trying to create a “pocket list” for the following day. This is my time to reflect on life in general and to assess everything. I then begin to think about who I have in my life, as well as those who I have lost and how much I am missing them.

My mind starts to wander to a dubious thought that I have had so many times before. I, once again, question how can we talk and walk, think and breathe without needing the aid of being plugged into an electrical current or connected to some sort of machine, where wires and cords give us the energy to work and perform, like when a television set is plugged in or a stove, computer, or even an electrical car!  All of these need some sort of energy source to perform.

I lay there and wonder in amazement… how am I capable of breathing on my own using a set of lungs that simply ask for clean, fresh air, but yet no requirement of wires?  How amazing it is to do my own thinking with an organ that does not need any “plug ins” to dream, to remember, to hold special thoughts and memories in my mind. My heart will beat a thousand times a day without the assistance of any electrical power. My heart loves and forgives, as well as learns about compassion. My heart is not only able to beat on its own, but is actually able to love and feel without an energy source spewing high voltage power directly into me, making all these vital organs work. I vision we should be like marionettes, where strings are connected to every part of our bodies, where a Master is now our energy source, instructing and pulling at our mind, heart and body strings, giving us the power, like electricity, to move, dance, talk and make our body’s operate.

electric

How can a heart, mind and soul function without the aid of cords zapping us with an electrical force, which seems to make everything work and function? How is it that we’re free to get up and move whenever we want, without unplugging ourselves from a pod of electrical current first?  I know that a person has to feed their body with traditional air, water and food in order to obtain that “power” of energy to keep moving forward, giving their body strength to do so, however, I still find it to be a miracle in itself. Think about it… my mind is thinking and writing its own thoughts and my heart is beating to every keystroke that my fingers type out and, all of this for “free of charge,”  no pun intended, of course.  I find it such a phenomenon that I’m able to accomplish all of this “wire free.” We are our own “energy.”  My body is one circuit of energy within itself. Each circuit of  energy within my body helps the other. These are just some of my odd thoughts that I have as I lay in my bed examining my day.

It’s these thoughts that now take me to a higher plane. Although I believe that our bodies need valued nutrition in order to be energized and function properly, I also believe that there’s a higher power that allows us to walk, talk, and move around so freely.  This power, I believe, is no other than God.  I believe that God is the one who supplies our “power” and that it’s a miracle in which my brain thinks, my lungs breathe and my heart beats and loves unconditionally all on their own. If God can do all of this while I’m alive here in my physical world, then I believe that he can create the same miracle of power, keeping our spirit and soul alive after we die.

 “I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living sprint from the dead, that the souls of the dead are in existence.” ~ Socrates

I don’t believe that once our physical bodies die that our spirits and souls die as well and that all of these miracles abruptly come to an end. I believe that our spirits and souls are set free, to continue on with our journey but now only in another measurement of time. Just because my loved ones have moved on to a different dimension, or because their physical body is no more, it doesn’t mean that their spirits don’t exist or that they don’t surround me. Their energy and wisdom will move forward to continue on with their path, where they will now share their life lessons that they have learned here on earth, with others in the next dimension so that they may teach others what they have learned and possibly what we have not. As I believe in the same power that God gives us in our physical lives, I believe that He continues to give us this same power for our spiritual world as well.  Our spirits, souls and knowledge, I believe, will continue on, whether it’s to be shared spiritually here on earth or high within the heavens.

As I often do, I extend an invitation to my deceased loved ones, letting them know they can come to me in my dreams to visit and to talk. I have only one rule with all my spiritual family and that is NOT to appear to me in their physical form. They are more than welcome to leave me a sign, move things, send me special memories or communicate with me through my dreams. Although I believe that they can appear to me, I simply request them not to. Seeing them in this form will surely scare the living turds right out of me! They know the rules, therefore, they communicate with me in the ways I have mentioned above. Reading many books on ADC, I have learned that there are twelve forms of after death communication from a deceased loved one and I have received about nine of these:

Sensing A Presence: This is the most common form of contact. But many people discount these experiences, thinking, “Oh, I’m just imagining this.” It’s a distinct feeling that your loved one is nearby, even though he or she can’t be seen or heard. Though most often felt during the days and weeks immediately after the death, you may sense his or her presence months and even years later.

Hearing A Voice: Some people state they hear an external voice, the same as when a living person is speaking to them. However, the majority of communications are by telepathy – you hear the voice of your relative or friend in your mind. When you have two-way communication, it is usually by telepathy. In fact, it’s possible to have an entire conversation this way.

Feeling A Touch: You may feel your loved one touch you with his or her hand, or place an arm around your shoulders or back, for comfort and reassurance. You may feel a tap, a pat, a caress, a stroke, a kiss, or even a hug. These are all forms of affection, nurturing, and love.

Smelling A Fragrance: You may smell your relative’s or friend’s favorite cologne, after-shave lotion, or perfume. Other common aromas are: flowers (especially roses), bath powders, tobacco products, favorite foods, and his or her personal scent.

Visual Experiences: There are a wide variety of visual experiences, which we have divided into two broad categories: partial visual and full visual ADCs. Appearances range from “a transparent mist” to “absolutely solid” with many gradations in between. You may see only the head and shoulders of your relative or friend, or someone you love may make a full appearance to you, and you will see the entire body as well, which will appear completely solid. Some visual ADCs occur in the bedroom, next to or at the foot of the bed. Others may happen anywhere – indoors or outdoors – even in a car or aboard a plane. Typically he or she will be expressing love and well-being with a radiant smile. Loved ones virtually always appear healed and whole regardless of their cause of death. Verbal communication may take place, but not always.

Visions: You may see an image of a deceased loved one in a “picture” that is either two-dimensional and flat or three-dimensional like a hologram. It’s like seeing a 35 mm slide or a movie suspended in the air. Visions are usually in radiant colors and may be seen externally with your eyes open or internally in your mind. Communication may occur, especially during meditation.

Twilight Experiences: These occur in the alpha state – as you’re falling asleep, waking up, meditating, or praying. You may have any or all of the above types of experiences while you are in this state of consciousness.

ADC Experiences While Asleep: Sleep-state ADCs are much more vivid, intense, colorful, and real than dreams. They are very common. Both one-way and two-way communications are typical. You usually feel your loved one is with you in person – that you’re having an actual visit together. These experiences are not jumbled, filled with symbols, or fragmented the way dreams are.  Sleep-state ADCs are similar to those that occur when you are wide awake. Your relative or friend can come to you more easily, however, when you are relaxed, open, and receptive, such as while you are in the alpha state or asleep.

Out-Of-Body ADCs: These may occur while you are asleep or in a meditative state. They are dramatic experiences during which you leave your body and often visit your loved one at the place or level where he or she exists. These are extremely vivid, intense, and real – some say, “more real than physical life.” The environments usually contain beautiful flowers and butterflies, colorful bushes and trees, radiant lighting, and other lovely aspects of nature – and are filled with happiness, love, and joy.

Telephone Calls: These ADCs may occur during sleep or when you are wide awake. You will hear a phone ringing, and if you answer it, your loved one will give you a short message. Two-way conversations are possible. His or her voice will usually be clear but may seem far away. If you are awake, you will probably not hear a disconnect sound or a dial tone when the call is completed.

Physical Phenomena: People who are bereaved often report receiving a wide variety of physical signs from their deceased relative or friend, such as: lights or lamps blinking on and off; lights, radios, televisions, stereos, and mechanical objects being turned on; photographs, pictures, and various other items being turned over or moved; and a long list of “things that go bump in the night.”

Symbolic ADCs: People frequently ask a Higher Power, the universe, or their deceased loved one for a sign that he or she still exists. Many receive such a sign, though it may take some time to arrive. Occasionally these signs are so subtle they may be missed, or they may be discounted as mere “coincidences.” Common signs include: butterflies, rainbows, many species of birds and animals, flowers, and a variety of inanimate objects such as coins and pictures. (1)

Just as I believe spiritually, I strongly believe in the spirit world as well. I believe that my loved one’s spirits come to visit me, surrounding me with their guidance, protection and love. I’ve had deceased loved ones offer me advice through a dream, thank me or just extending a hug.  I don’t call what has happened to me as coincidences, I believe that they all happened for a reason and that there’s a meaning and message behind each and every one of them.  I have always welcomed my family to communicate with me, via ADC, and with the stories I mention below, I believe, they have.

The Sweet Smell of Tar

One of my first encounters of spirits was by smell.  My grandfather, Raymond, was a roofer and he often would bring home his big red roofing truck, which smelled like tar and, of course, himself, too. It was one of those pleasant memories that when I smell tar today, I think fondly of my grandfather.  However, what’s strange is that whenever I smell tar, there would be no tar truck around nor were any buildings being worked on.

The smell literally appeared out of nowhere. Such as, when I was planning to go into the hospital to have Arla by cesarean, I smelled tar inside the car on the way to the hospital.  This same smell repeated itself when I was on my way to the hospital the second time to give birth by cesarean to Tanner. Again, there were no tar trucks or buildings around me that indicated work was being done.  When having Tanner, the anesthesiologist was having trouble inserting the needle into my back for my epidural. I was told that if they couldn’t get it by the third attempt, they would have to put me under. I have a fear of going under anesthesia, so I had prayed to my grandfather, “Grandpa, please guide the physician’s hands to help her insert the needle into my back so that I don’t have to go under. You know how much I fear going under…” No sooner when my prayer ended, the anesthesiologist, Dr. Childers, was able to complete the procedure and the needle slid directly into my spine with ease. “Thank you grandpa!”  Frank commented that when I was in the hospital to have Arla, that there was an elderly man working on the sink just outside the operating room.  Of course, Frank didn’t give it a second thought… until the next time when I went to the hospital to have Tanner.  Once again, I was the same operating room as the first time and there Frank said was the same elderly man, underneath the sink, working on it.  I personally didn’t recall this man, but Frank insisted that he was there both times of delivery, working on the same sink. I do know that I smelled roofing tar for no apparent reason on both of these occasions and, along with this elderly man, I believe that this could have been grandpa stopping by to make sure that I was okay and it was his way of saying that he was there with me, protecting and watching over me.  To this day, I still continue to smell roofing tar and, when I do, I peacefully say, “Hello grandpa, how are you?”

Coming to Say Hello

As I have shared in the past, my grandfather and I were very close, especially in the latter years when he was battling his final fight with cancer.

While visiting with him and my grandmother in Madison in the early 1980’s, I realized that his condition was deteriorating, making me realize that he may not be with us too much longer.  As I sat on the couch with grandpa, we started talking about this and that, catching up on lost time. It was moments later that grandpa stood up and, with the help of his cane, he walked slowly to his bedroom to collect something from his drawer.

Sitting back down beside me, he handed me a man’s gold diamond ring, sharing with me that he had found it in a car wash decades ago.  He asked me if I would like to keep it, so that when I held it, I would think of him.  Knowing that it was a part of him, I said, “Yes, I would love to have it as a keepsake.”  Grandpa commented that he had the ring for many years and that I should never give it away and to keep it always.  I distinctly remember the moment when sitting close beside him on the couch that warm summer afternoon, playing with the ring that he gave me, twirling it around my finger. There was reminiscence in the air, along with our conversation, as we started to talk about the farm in Stoughton and all the fun time we had while living there. I could tell that this was a fond memory in grandpa’s heart. It wasn’t long when he shared with me that he wished my mother would have named me Arlaraye, like he asked her to. But, he told me that she absolutely refused. I told him that I was sorry, as I knew how important this was to him. It was then that I made a vow to him and said, “Grandpa, if I ever have a daughter in the future, I promise that I will name her after you, for you, and call her Arlaraye.”  With that, he put his arms around me and gave me the strongest hug. The strength in his arms told me that I had just made him a very happy grandfather.

Grandpa’s death came just a couple years later and it saddened me to know that he would never be around to see my promise to him become a reality, naming my first daughter for him. Almost ten years later, when I realized that I was pregnant, I was ecstatic!   I was expecting to have my first child in April 1992.  From the moment that I found out I was going to have a baby, all I wished for that it was going to be a girl.  One evening during the night, I prayed my wishes to God, expressing how much I wanted to have a daughter so that I could honor my grandfather in the way that my mother would not.  After pleading my reasons, I felt something in my belly, twisting and turning, almost as if the baby did a complete 360 flip inside me.  The feeling that I experienced that night was different, almost bizarre, as if God was answering my prayers the moment they left my lips.

My daughter, Arlaraye Niccole, was born on Monday, April 6, 1992.

It wasn’t long before Frank and I got in the routine of nightly feedings, changing poopy diapers, with a side order of not enough sleep!  At the time, we always lived in the back room.  It was our main family room, where we watched TV and entertained guests and simply hung out.  Today, this room is considered the art room. But, when Arla was a baby, this was the room we utilized the most when first moving into the house.  This family room was an addition that was built onto the house decades prior to us moving in. It’s a nice size room and it overlooks the backyard, with many windows wrapping around. The main bedrooms were on the first floor, with Arla’s room being directly across from ours.  Because the back room was an add on, Arla’s bedroom had two doors; one that originally would have led outside to the backyard if the addition wasn’t there and the main bedroom door, which leads into the hallway by the bathroom and our bedroom.

One evening, Frank and I were sitting in the back family room, enjoying some quite time, as we had just laid Arla down in her crib for the night. As young parents often do, we made sure that the noise level was at a minimum so as to not wake up our new baby girl. We made sure that both doors were tightly closed so that our cats wouldn’t disturb Arla while she slept.  Settling in for an evening of TV, it wasn’t long before we heard the unexpected. I was sitting right outside Arla’s door and Frank was lounging on the couch. It was moments later that Arla’s main door to her room, the one that faced the hallway, opened and within a few seconds it closed again, slamming shut. Suddenly, Frank and I both looked at each other simultaneously, as we spun our heads toward Arla’s bedroom.  We both knew that we were the only ones in the house. As if on cue, both Frank and I said in harmony, “Grandpa Johnson!”  Frank went to Arla’s room and, there as it was, just the way we left it, her door was completely shut. We knew that Arla didn’t open the door, as she was just a newborn, not even able to roll over yet, let open a bedroom door.  Frank and I absolutely believed that grandpa had stopped by for a visit to say hello to his new great granddaughter, his namesake, the one I promised to name for him, in honor of him.

It was a couple years later, once we had our Golden Retriever, Kassy, that this room attracted additional attention. One evening, as Kassy laid quietly on the floor next to my feet in the family room, she suddenly poked her head up, looked toward Arla’s room, and started a low toned growl. She immediately got my attention as I, too, looked toward Arla’s room.  The lights were off and Arla’s back door was slightly opened. At the time, Arla was not in her room, but in her basinet beside me. Kassy is now standing on all fours and is directing her complete attention to the open door of Arla’s room, growling making her presence known. I began to ask Kassy what was the matter and asked her to go and investigate, with a quick “who’s there girl, watch ‘em!” command. Kassy slowly walked to the open door, as if she was on a cautious hunt, but she moved no further nor did she walk inside the room.  It was if she got spooked.  Immediately turning around, she shared a small whimper and came back to my side, hugging close to my legs, which is where she remained for the remainder of the evening.  It was apparent that there was something going on in Arla’s room and that Kassy was scared.  Animals can be such intuitive animals and I believe that there was something in the room that grabbed her attention.  Although I never did learn what stirred Kassy into such a frenzy, I can only believe that it was simply another visit from grandpa, looking to say hello to his Arlaraye.

The Light in the Window

One evening, I was home by myself and Frank was out with the Arla, who was a toddler at the time. It was a rarity that I was alone, not to mention with my own thoughts. I decided to call my friend Donatta to catch up on life. I was in our back family room at the time. Doing things between both rooms, running back and forth from the kitchen and family room, and instead of resting within the chair, I decided to sit and prop myself on the arm of the recliner chair. I faced the windows toward the backyard, with my back resting toward the kitchen. It was evening out and I could see the room’s reflection in the darken window. Midway through my conversation with Donatta, while starring toward the window, I saw a large white light that suddenly took over my attention. Like a mirror, this light was being reflected in the darkened window. My reaction was somewhat puzzling, but yet uneasy, as I couldn’t grasp at the moment where the light was coming from.   The light was noticeable and prominent for at least a good ten seconds. It appeared as if something was being opened and closed, as I saw the light slowly disappear.

I immediately went to the window to investigate, thinking it was the weather, perhaps lightening, but I soon realized it wasn’t. Turning back toward the kitchen, I stood there thinking maybe Frank and the kids were home, but they weren’t. The house was quiet. There were no other lights on in the kitchen except for the accent light underneath the stove, which wasn’t in the path of the window.  Still standing in the back room, my eyes then drifted through the kitchen to the fridge. As I expected it to be, the fridge door was closed. Walking only a few feet into the kitchen from where I was standing, I went directly to the fridge. Holding the phone in my left hand, I was still on the phone talking with Donatta, explaining to her what was happening. Placing my right hand onto the fridge door handle, I turn my head to the left, where I look directly toward the back family room, to the same window where I was just at moments before. The distance between the fridge and the back room window is approximately twenty feet.  Studying the layout and the path between both rooms, the fridge was in direct alignment with the darkened window. Clutching the handle, I slowly open the fridge door, as I watched what played out in the window.  Moments later, I gradually brought the fridge door to a close.

Opening and closing the fridge door several more times, it was then that I had the evidence I needed. I was convinced that this was the exact same light that I had witnessed just minutes before while sitting on the arm of the chair starring at the back room window.  This is when Donatta asked me if I was sure I was alone. Walking through the house, I made sure that nobody else was there with me. I was completely alone… or so I thought. The only explanation that came to mind was that, perhaps, it was my grandfather’s sprit, who was coming to visit me once again, just like the time when he came to visit Arla in her bedroom. But, this time, looking into the fridge for a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

Everywhere a Sign

My grandfather’s favorite beer was Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) and whenever I see a PBR beer sign, I think of him. On the way home from the hospital, after taking my mother off of life support that one September afternoon, we parked on a side street so that Frank could run an errand into the corner convenient store. I decided to stay in the car with the kids. Looking out the window, my mind started drifting off and I was back in the hospital, where I was at only moments before.  Looking up to the sky, there I saw high above my head on the top side of the building was a PBR advertisement sign. It was then that I felt my grandfather was with me at the time of my mother’s death and going through the emotions with me.

Not only do I receive signs like the above, I also receive signs by smell, such as the tar smell I spoke of earlier.  One afternoon, while walking into my bedroom, I immediately smelled my grandfather’s aftershave, as if it was just freshly slapped onto his face. I knew it was him right away and I spent the next few minutes taking in the smell of his aftershave. Moments later, it dissipated.

A Word of Comfort

As my grandfather’s scent had permeated my bedroom, believing that he was there for a visit, there was another time recently that he stopped by again. I was upset and crying very hard to myself. Someone I knew hurt me very deeply. As I walked into the bedroom, I closed the door behind me. I wanted to be alone. Sitting on the edge of the bed on my side of the room with my back to the bedroom door, I sat there sobbing, where my emotions were simply uncontrollable. My deepest emotions were coming out and I was practically drowning in my own emotions. Through my tears, I heard a soft voice behind me, a voice that uttered a reassuring “Ssssshhhhh…” My eyes looked up and I hushed myself from crying. I quickly turned around toward the door and to the other side of the room. The door was still closed. I felt like I was no longer alone.  It was then that I knew my grandfather was there with me, asking me to shush my tears, consoling me.  I will never forget this spiritual contact. I heard this Ssssshhhhh as clear as could be. My spiritual family is with me always and hearing grandpa hush me to silence made me stop crying and wipe my tears. There is no doubt in my mind that my grandfather was there helping me get through this rough time.

I have received other signs, as well, such as when doing an online search or needing to complete an online form. On several occasions, there was already a name populated within the search field or the name field before I even began typing.  The name Johnson would automatically be within these fields prior to be starting the form.  Coincidently enough, Johnson was my grandparents’ last name.

I have also encountered flickering lights while sitting next to a lamp or the light bulb would suddenly blow out while touching to turn on a light switch or turn the knob of a lamp. There was a time when the bulbs were constantly being changed because every time I reached for them, they would blow out.   These times were during when I lost a loved one, where my feelings and emotions were at their highest level. Was it my own energy source that tapped these lights dry or was it someone else, my spiritual family, letting me know that they were with me?

When I began to write my memoirs, I knew that I wanted to share and express not only the hardships I have had in my life, but also the tremendous amount of love I have experienced as well.  The day that I finished writing about my Uncle Bob and expressing how much he meant to me in my life, that evening, he came to me in a dream. Uncle Bob stood there before me, just as I remembered him, with his face full of beard wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. He had a look that seemed to come right out of the 1970’s. Standing before me he said to me, “Thank you for individually thinking of me.”  I remember telling him that he was welcome and that I loved him. Uncle Bob started to cry and I started to cry even hard. Shortly after, I woke up and knew that Uncle Bob came to visit me.

I continue to ask for signs and welcome my spiritual family to visit me at any time during my dreams. I enjoy when they visit, except for the time when granny took her hug a bit too far or the time when she offered me words of “Peace” that she shared with me in my dream. I will share these moments with you next time, as well as when my mother who made an appearance but this time it wasn’t in my dreams, it was a physical manifestation right there in front of me while I was sitting in church…

 “Perhaps they are not stars but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pour through and shine down upon us to let us know they are happy.” ~ Eskimo Proverb

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Today, as I sat in my yard writing my blog, I had the company of two yellow butterflies playing with each other throughout the day. Bouncing from one flower to the next, they did so in unison, not once parting from each other’s side. I can’t help but to wonder… Could these two butterflies be my grandparents as they glided from one pollen pod to the other? Was it my mother and Uncle Bob, chasing each another around as they once did when they were little kids? Perhaps, it was Geno and his father, as they journeyed together catching up on life’s distant past.  Regardless of who these two butterflies may have been as they shared my whole day, I was happy to know that I was able to have this spiritual connection. I watched them both dance to the fragrance that my garden had to offer, as I listened to the birds sing in the breeze, the beautiful clouds that painted the sky and the air that carried a calmness. These are the moments that make me aware of how my body is energized; not through electrical energy, but by the power of God and my spiritual connections…

… Yes, I truly enjoyed my Spiritual Sunday.

References:

1. http://www.after-death.com/

http://www.adcrf.org/

Riding Free

 Everyone copes differently; some cry for the loss of a loved one, others smile because they know they’ll see them again.” ~ Author Unknown

“He was behind us at one point when I checked my side mirror and, when I looked again only moments later, he was gone. As I kept looking into my mirror, I realized that he wasn’t catching up with the rest of us, so we decided to turn around and head back to see if he was okay. This is when we saw the ambulance blocking the road, with its lights flashing and the EMT’s working on Geno.”

Geno and the other riders were on their way back home to Chicago from having a day of riding in Waukesha, Wisconsin. There were several of them riding in tandem and Geno was towing behind the others, surely enjoying the beautiful scenery that surrounded him.

A witness from a passing car saw the entire accident. “I saw him riding and then watched him just drive off the side of the road, as if he was making a simple turn, as if that turn and road was a part of his journey, as if he was meant to continue on in that direction… he calmly drove off the road.”

One Samaritan who saw the accident stopped and immediately called 911, while others pulled Geno’s motorcycle off his chest where, once they did, his color came back to his face.

Official reports said that Geno took a turn, didn’t negotiate it properly, and slid off the side of the road. As Geno was thrown from his bike, he hit a metal telephone box and then a road sign before landing on the ground, where is motorcycle landed on top of him and when the ambulance arrived at the scene, the EMT’s found Geno unresponsive. He was taken to the nearest trauma center, Waukesha Memorial Hospital. The medical staff worked on Geno for hours in the E.R., but they couldn’t save him. Geno had severe body trauma… a fractured spine, broken leg, cracked ribs, a torn aorta, and bleeding in the brain. His injuries were so extensive that if he did survive… what quality of life would he have been left with?

Geno's Memorial Marker Waukesha, Wisconsin

Geno’s Memorial Marker
Waukesha, Wisconsin

Because of all these massive injuries, one would believe that Geno was traveling at excessive speeds of 60, 70 or even 80 mph when he came upon hitting that phone box and road sign. The reality is that Geno was going less than 20 mph when he went off the side of the road, when he hit those obstructions, he was traveling under 20 mph when he met his fate. He was going a snail’s pace, barely moving, and not even enough speed to start up a gentle breeze through his hair. It left many of us questioning… how such a speed could leave so much damage.

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…” ~ John Lennon

  Geno's Mass Card

 

It was Geno’s request not to have a traditional funeral service and his family honored his wishes. Carol, his wife, had him quietly cremated at a funeral home in Mundelein near their home. About a month later, the family had a memorial mass for Geno so that we could all have some sort of closure, to say our final goodbyes, to make peace in our hearts in our own individual ways. Carol brought Geno’s ashes to St. Michael’s church in Chicago, where Geno’s brother, Joey, who is a Catholic Priest, carried out a beautiful mass that Saturday afternoon last August honoring Geno, as so did the Army’s honor guard, acknowledging that he was a veteran soldier who fought for his country. Playing taps for the congregation and while the honor guard spoke to Carol on the behalf of the President of the United States, you could hear some mourners weeping openly while others chose to cry to themselves, as their tears left their eyes, quietly rolling down the their cheeks.

After the mass, we continued to celebrate and remember Geno’s life. We all cried together, we all laughed together, while everyone shared their own personal “Geno Stories” to the point where we were laughing from the deepness of our bellies, only to follow up by shedding more tears. The stories that others shared were truly entertaining and one of a kind, a story only fitting for Geno and always at his expense.

Eugene, Geno, Bro, Ponch… no matter what we called him, he was known more importantly as husband, son, brother… friend! Geno was a very outspoken man, his personality infectious! Geno brought to the family what a butterfly brings to a garden… beauty, smiles and, at times, one hell of a free spirit! Below is one of my own favorite Geno Stories.

“Hey, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs; heh…? And a little bit o’ wine. An’ a little bit o’ sugar, and that’s my trick.” ~ The God Father

The Red Hat

One day, when her children were young, Bubby was making her homemade spaghetti sauce. Bubby, made everything from scratch when cooking for her big family. One of her specialties that everyone enjoyed was her homemade spaghetti sauce, where the pot of tomatoes and spices would simmer on top of the stove all day, cooking for hours, with an occasional twirl of the spoon around the bottom of the pot, making sure it wasn’t burning. Surely, one could smell the sauce wafting all through the house, while at the same time the kids’ bellies filled with anticipation, just waiting for the spaghetti and sauce to be served up for dinner.

As Bubby’s sauce continues cooking to perfection, she tends to other things around the house. Geno decided to take a stroll through the kitchen, with his red knit hat in hand, twirling his hat high into the air with one hand only to catch it with the other, like pizza dough, not once, but several times, over and over, as he watched it spin back down. Geno continued his game, challenging his red hat to twirl even higher into the air with every toss he gave it, catching it every time as if on cue. Geno’s game finally ended when he spins his red hat into the air one last time. Watching it make its descent from the ceiling, he soon realizes that his red hat would not be landing in his hands as it did so many times before. Geno watched his red hat spin uncontrollably away from him, only for him to see it land directly into the large pot of homemade spaghetti sauce that Bubby had been simmering on the stove for hours!

Standing before the pot and, of course, not wanting to “fess up” to his wrongdoing, Geno decided to tuck his red hat deeper into the sauce. Taking the spoon, he pushed the red had underneath the sauce, completely submerging and covering it up, hoping that everything would go unnoticed. Geno quietly walked away and out of the room, not mentioning anything about the extra added ingredient to his mother’s spaghetti sauce.

As dinnertime arrived and, with all the kids that bordered the table, they all waited patiently as Bubby began to serve up her infamous spaghetti sauce that everyone had been waiting for since the moment Bubby tossed that first tomato into the pot. Surely, it was at this moment that Geno was praying his red hat had somehow mysteriously dissolved into the pot of spaghetti sauce. Spoon in hand; Bubby takes a stir of her sauce only to discover that the added ingredient was not a part of her original recipe. She soon realized that it was Geno’s red knit hat, which laid perfectly camouflaged, as it stared back at her from the pot. It was Bubby that was now simmering on a low flame. Bubby realized that she couldn’t serve up the sauce because her sauce was not the only thing that was cooking in that pot all day. Tossing out the homemade spaghetti sauce, along with the hat, Bubby ended up walking to the local Certified Super Market on Clybourn Avenue, where she was forced to purchase canned spaghetti sauce to serve with her spaghetti. It was at this point that Geno was never allowed to twirl anything in the kitchen again while Bubby was cooking.

It was many years later, when Geno was out on his own, living in his own apartment, when he decided to cook the same spaghetti dinner for his date. Cooking the sauce the way Bubby did, he cooked it to perfection… except for one minor change. Instead of boiling the water for the pasta, Geno figured he’d save a few steps and cook the pasta within the sauce. It was only a few minutes later that he realized he didn’t have a wonderful spaghetti dinner, but a pot of concrete instead. Not only did he toss the sauce into the trash, but the pot itself went into the trash as well.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ~ Julia Child

Frank shared one of his favorite stories with us as well.

The Widower

One late evening in the early 80’s, Geno decided to grab the telephone book, after having a few beers, where he would start rummaging through the M’s for all the Morin’s within the city of Chicago. He was curious to know exactly how many Morin’s there were. Surprisingly, there were only two… his family and one other person by the name of Morin was listed. Geno decided to call the phone number only to discover that it was registered to a little old woman who lived on the northwest side of Chicago. It was then that he shared that his last name was Morin, too, and thought perhaps they were related. Being the charismatic person he is, Geno carried a conversation on with this woman and chatted with her for the longest time, where he discovered that she wasn’t a relative after all, she had been a widower for many years, and that she liked to talk just as much as Geno did. After a lengthy conversation, Geno decided to end their conversation, while wishing the widower his best. With that, they hung up.

Approximately another year had gone by when Geno took the phone book once again, looking for all the Morin’s in the city of the Chicago. Tracing his finger under the M’s, there it was for a second time, the same number that he had called just the year before. Picking up the phone, he dialed the number only for the same widower to answer the phone. Geno shared that his last name was Morin, too, the same as hers, commenting that there aren’t very many Morin’s in the phone book. The widower went on to tell Geno that her husband had died, never once remembering their previous phone conversation from just the year before. She would share that her husband used to do this and that for her, and how she missed him. However, Geno let her talk on, repeating almost everything that she had said the year before. So, here, a tradition was born, where every several months, Geno would call his widower friend to have a simple chat, making sure she was okay, only for her to repeat the same stories over and over again to Geno. Surely, it gave one old woman time to express herself about the past, reminiscing about the love she once shared with her husband, only for her to be left thinking of fond memories of what use to be, memories of what was once hers.

As we all continued to share our stories one after another, we couldn’t help but to feel numb inside. Of all the years the Morin boys were riding, this was the first horrible tragedy that the Morin family had ever encountered and, from my own heart, why Geno? It just didn’t make sense to me, especially by the means of his demise. I can only believe that Geno’s life lessons here on earth were complete and it was now time for him to begin his life with God. I admit that I am selfish and I wished Geno was still here with us, living and being a part of our everyday lives. But, I realize that God had called and must have needed him more.

It was comforting to know that just a couple days before Geno’s accident that he had a visit with Bubby and his brother, Joey, where Joey did the anointing of the sick with Bubby, as well as the three of them having communion together. Although my heart was heavy with pain and sorrow, I found peace in knowing that he shared these two sacred sacraments with his mother and older brother. It seemed like the timing of everything was meant to me, meant to fall in place.

Geno passed away exactly 10 days before the anniversary of the motorcycle accident that Frank and I had over 20 years ago, where our lives were spared. My thoughts take me back to that day when Geno came to visit me in Columbus Hospital when I was in there recovering from my own motorcycle accident, where I was learning how to walk again. With a huge box of candy in his hands for the nurses, Geno walked so proudly into the therapy department, just like Forest Gump, holding his box of chocolates, as he handed them over to the staff. My therapy for that day was to cook for a guest and myself. I made hamburgers… one for me and one for Geno. He spent hours sitting there with me, lifting my spirits. That day, it was Geno’s heart consoling mine, telling me that I was going to be just fine. Today, it’s my heart that consoles Geno’s spirit. I still can’t believe we lost him… But, he passed doing what he loved – riding, riding free with his face and knees in the wind.

Geno Goes To Sturgis…

“Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” ~ Author Unknown

Sunday evening, the day after Geno’s passing; I was on my way upstairs to bed. As I was passing through the dining room, I noticed a stuffed doggy toy on the floor. Believing in signs, this is when I asked Geno for a sign. I said, “Geno, if you are here with us, can you please move the doggy toy from the floor and place it onto the dining room table?” With that, I left the toy where it was at and went on up to bed. Monday morning came rolling around quite fast and I was up rather early. As I headed downstairs, I saw that my request from the evening before went unnoticed. The stuffed doggy toy lay quietly on the floor exactly where I had left it just hours before. I thought to myself… okay, next time. I walked into the kitchen to get my day started and made a pot of coffee. I made my way back to my art room, where I opened up the curtains and windows, inviting the day’s sunshine into the room. As I turned around to put things away into my art cabinet, I noticed on top of the cabinet was the bag of rice crispy treats that Donatta had made for her visit that fateful Saturday. They had been on the kitchen table for the last few days, exactly where Donatta had left them when she arrived that Saturday afternoon. Picking up the bag and returning it to the kitchen, I was rather irritated because they didn’t belong there. I blamed either Tanner or Frank for eating them directly out of the bag and just plopping the bag wherever they pleased once they were done eating them, which was on top of the art cabinet in my back art room. Once they woke up, I brought it to their attention and asked them why they tossed the rice crispy treats on top of the art cabinet and couldn’t put them back into the kitchen. Both Tanner and Frank denied that they had done it. Turning to Arla, I asked her if she had done it and she confessed a big no, as well. Standing there in front of them, I asked, “Neither of you placed these treats on top of the cabinet; so they just appeared there themselves?” Nobody confessed to moving the treats to the back art room, they even swore that they didn’t touch the bag. It didn’t seem to be a big deal; that was until I remembered that I asked Geno for a sign the night before; that if he was with us to move the stuffed doggy toy to the table. Did he decide to move the rice crispy treats instead? To this day, I never found out who moved them from the kitchen table to on top of the art cabinet, a complete room away.

Even from a distance, Geno was remembered so fondly. I can’t even express into words how many people had come to share our grief with us. Friends and family have all expressed a deep sense of loss in hearing about Geno’s passing, which goes to show all of us how much Geno was loved, how much he touched each and every one of our lives, even if it was for just a brief moment or through a lifetime. In honor of Geno and for the family, I created the below presentation as a remembrance of the man that will always live forever within our hearts. Geno is with us in spirit, whether it’s within the butterfly that dances gracefully across our path or within the rays from the setting sun that beam down upon us from the heavens above. This Sunday, June 16, my family and I will repose the soul of Eugene Pacelli Morin, where he may enter into heaven and eternally be with God in his home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Last Hug Before I Go

CaileyAnne Lydia, sitting on her shelf, wearing my grandmother's necklaces.

CaileyAnne Lydia, sitting on her shelf, wearing my grandmother’s necklaces.

“Never wait until tomorrow to hug someone you could hug today.” ~ Author Unknown

In the early 1990’s, when my grandmother was still alive, Frank, Arlaraye and I would always go and visit her. She lived in Madison, Wisconsin in an assisted living type home and she always enjoyed having company and looking forward to our visits. My grandfather lived there, too, until the time he passed in 1984. One day while almost there, we saw a yard sale, so we decided to stop and took a look around. A woman was selling a baby doll that when you squeezed its hands, feet and belly, it would say different sayings. The woman told us that it wasn’t in the stores, as it was a prototype of sorts. Arla was about 3 years old at the time and, as you can imagine, she fell in love with the doll instantly, so we bought it for her. We had named the doll CaileyAnne Lydia. If I ever had another baby daughter, I had plans to name her CaileyAnne Lydia. I thought the name was beautiful. Arla played with her new doll all the time, pretending it was her own baby, and she brought it everywhere we went.

Over the years, as Arla grew older, interest in playing with the doll became less and less. As you can imagine, CaileyAnne Lydia ended up at the bottom of the toy box, or under her bed, even our dog, Kassy, played with her for a while, tossing her around and playing fetch with her. CaileyAnne Lydia’s hair had become all ratty, resembling dreadlocks that lay on the top of her head and her clothes were worn and dirtied. It was apparent that CaileyAnne Lydia had surely seen better days. Arla eventually outgrew playing with baby dolls; therefore, it was time to make a toy donation to Goodwill. Sitting in Arla’s room, I started picking through her many toys, figuring out what should stay and what should be donated. Tossing CaileyAnne Lydia into the box to give to Goodwill, I contemplated on actually giving the doll away. Looking at the doll as she lay helplessly in the bottom of the box amongst other dolls, stuffed animals and old McDonald Happy Meal toys, I didn’t have the heart to donate the doll to Good Will. She was such a unique baby doll that held a special place in my heart, mostly because we bought her on one of our many trips while visiting granny. Snatching her quickly out of the box, I decided to keep CaileyAnne Lydia as a memento, reminding me of the great times in Wisconsin. My intentions were to pack her away safely in Arla’s keepsake baby box, which held other special items from the day Arla was born. However, instead, I placed the doll up on the shelf in my bedroom, where she sat, for many years, collecting dust.

In 2001, my mother had a blood clot that traveled from her leg to her heart, where she was admitted to the hospital, placed on life support, where a machine was breathing life for her. At 62 years old, she was brain-dead. On September 14, three days after the 9/11 attacks, my brothers and I had made the decision to take mom off life support, ending her life. The hospital chaplain gave mom her last rights, blessings her and saying the Lord’s Prayer over her. It was an emotional time, as I wasn’t sure how to take my feelings… was I sad, did I not care? It didn’t help matters that the 9/11 events were taking place in the background of our lives. My heart and mind were so confused at the time. We didn’t have a wake or funeral for mom; her wishes were simply to be cremated.

A couple of days after my mom had passed away, my thoughts were still with mom. I had such mixed emotions about my grieving. There were times that I was angry, disappointed and even relieved, but then there were times that I was completely heartbroken. The day that mom had passed, while leaving the hospital with mixed emotions, I remember asking for a sign. I believed in signs and welcomed anything. A sign that everything would be okay, that mom would be okay, that I would be okay. As Frank parked the truck to run into a store, I noticed that there was a huge Pabst Blue Ribbon beer sign above my head. PBR was my grandfather’s beer of choice and I took it as a sign that grandpa was there, greeting, accepting mom as she passed over, giving me the sign I asked for.

I had received many sympathy cards from friends and family, even a couple of cards from mom’s friends at the assisted living home where she stayed called, The Lawrence House. After viewing the cards, I tucked them all into a folder, where I filed them away in my desk drawer. I had decided to go to bed, as the evening had gotten late. The day had been another long one and I was ready to get a good night’s sleep. The kids were already in bed and Frank had gone up to bed about an hour before me. Making sure the doors were locked and all was safe, I ascended the stairs to my bedroom. The only sounds I heard were coming from the fan, as it hummed in the background, along with Frank’s customary snoring keeping in tune with every breath he took. I was still emotional over all the events that had happened in those past couple of days; our country being attacked, seeing my brother, Jeff, for the first time in years and, of course, mom’s death. I didn’t know if I should continue crying or if I should be relieved that it was all over with. I noticed that my strongest thoughts were when I was alone, having time to think, deciphering every detail of the events that took place.

Making my way to the top of the stairs, I entered my bedroom to get ready for bed, peeling off my clothes as I walked further and further into my bedroom… blouse here, bra there, tossing them onto the floor. As I walked by my sitting area, taking off the remainder of my clothes, it was at that moment that I was forced to stop. Standing there and not being able to move, like a deer caught in headlights, I heard something that I will never forget. I immediately turned to my left, as I looked up at where the voice was coming from. There, sitting high on the shelf in my bedroom, sat CaileyAnne Lydia, the doll that I rescued from the Goodwill box. As if on cue, she called out aloud, “Please pick me up and hold me tight.” The voice was prominent, demanding and definitely pierced my body with a fearfulness that left me petrified. Standing there unable to move, I turned my head to the right, where I saw Frank sleeping in bed. Calling Frank’s name, with a slight whisper to my voice, almost as if I didn’t want the doll to hear me, I tried summoning Frank awake. Calling Frank’s name a second time, I realized that he was completely in Sandman Land. I walked away from my sitting area and quickly put my nightgown on. Walking over to the bed, I shook Frank’s foot, trying to rustle him out of his deep sleep, but it was no use, he was completely out. All of a sudden, I was afraid to be alone. I hopped into bed quite quickly and snuggled up very closely to Frank, almost as if I was seeking protection. I lay there in the darkness, studying the silence of the air, almost contemplating if I actually heard what I thought I did. That doll had been sitting on my bedroom shelf for years and, not once, did that doll ever talk. Someone has to physically squeeze her arm, her foot or even pressing down on her belly in order to make her talk. Why now? Why did she speak those words just at that moment as I entered the room? I continue to lie there, listening, waiting for the doll to repeat herself, to say something else, but she never did.

Upon waking the next morning, I couldn’t wait to share my chilling story with Frank and how it scared me so much that I burrowed myself so close to him as if I was tick in a dog’s backside. I shared with him every detail that took place, every word that was spoken and, without hesitation, he said to me, “That was your mother talking to you!” Considerng the thought, I told him that I didn’t even think of that. However, the more I thought about it, the more I had convinced myself that, perhaps, my mom did make it to the other side, telling me that she made it to her final destination, heaven. I had a sense of comfort wash over me and was thankful for another “sign.”

Several days had passed since I heard that fateful plea from the baby doll that sat calmly on my shelf. Immediately upon entering my bedroom, my eyes would always settle on CaileyAnne Lydia, as she stared back at me, smiling, almost as if she was happy to see me. I was still in wonder how the doll was able to talk by herself that evening when there was nobody around initiating her to. Could it have been the spirits of my mother talking?

“There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.” ~Mother Teresa

It was the weekend and I was looking forward to enjoying the last warm days of summer. Mom always hated the warmer weather; I thrived on it and, personally, the warmer the better. There’s something about sitting out on a late summer evening and knowing there’s no commitments that lie ahead of me. A sense of calmness took over, as I sat watching the stars above me, as they winked hello. Thinking about my mother, I wondered if she was up there looking down on me, her grandchildren, and her family. I began talking to her, asking if she had settled in, asking if she was happy. As I pictured mom with grandpa, laughing, dancing, being completely happy and content, I suddenly felt tears sliding down my cheek. Sitting back, I could feel the slight breeze brushing against my skin, drying my tears, relaxing me even more. I could smell the evening’s dampness in the air as it laid a blanket of wetness over the grass. I closed my eyes and listened to the cicada’s buzzing in the trees, dancing themselves and singing for their mates. Enjoying my last glass of wine for the evening, I took a deep breath, taking it all in.

Meditating on the sky, I soon realized that the evening had since turned into early morning hours and I felt I had better get myself to bed. Bringing Kassy in with me, we both began our nightly ritual. Hopping on the couch and twirling twice around, Kassy lands, finding her comfort spot in the corner, where she soon passed out. I was hoping to do the same in a few short moments, as the night air had made me very sleepy. Climbing the stairs to my bedroom, the tradition began, as I heard Frank snoring, practically humming right along with the cicadas that I just left moments before. As I was about to turn off the overhead light, I heard the same request as I did just days before, “Please pick me up and hold me tight.” Once more, my eyes drifted up to the doll on the shelf. I stood there waiting for it to go off a second time, almost challenging it to speak again, but the doll remained silent. With my fingers resting upon the light switch, I flipped off the light, only to say a few words of my own, “Good night mom, I love you.”

“What is soul? It’s like electricity – we don’t really know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room.” ~Ray Charles

Even though granny was moved to a nursing home in Portage, Wisconsin, Frank, the kids and I still made our trips up to see her. She loved it when we would come up and visit with her, one time even bringing Kassy with us. It was almost as if Kassy sensed something, as Kassy lay contently at granny’s side, never leaving her, resting her head upon granny’s feet the whole time we were there. Sadly, this was the last time we were ever to visit granny. On July 17, 2003, I received a call from the nursing home, letting me know that my grandmother had suddenly passed away. Hanging up the phone with the nursing home, I was completely devastated. Granny was my world. She was the mother that I never had and she was the last family member to leave me. Suddenly, I felt so alone. As it once did for my grandfather, my heart now ached for the passing of my grandmother. Granny passed away from cardiac arrhythmia while eating dinner. I was told that fried chicken was on the menu that evening and we all knew how much granny loved her chicken. Cardiac arrhythmia is when your heart beats irregularly. That evening, granny’s heart decided to stop. Her heart was tired, as it was beating for over 83 years. I found myself once again, making a phone call to my brother, Steve, informing him that another family member had died.

Arriving back home from granny’s funeral services, I felt as if my heart was going to completely break in half from heartache. No more weekly phone calls to granny, no more visits, and no more letters and cards. When Arla was a little baby, I use to write granny letters, pretending they came from Arla. Granny would get a laugh from the letters as “Arla” would talk about her day, having to eat the nasty baby peas that I made her eat or Arla sharing with granny about taking long naps, playing with her toys or pulling the cat’s tail as he walked by. After a while, I believed granny actually thought these letters were written by Arla. Thankfully, I kept a copy of every one of them. These were the memories that I was going to miss so dearly. I was tired of having death around me, always coming to me. I was tired of always being the communicator, the deliverer of bad news, informing others of someone’s death… my grandfather’s, my uncle’s, my mother’s and now my grandmother’s. I was tired of being the messenger. Nevertheless, as I sat there crying, I realized that there were no more deaths to report. I had lost the last blood relative that was so very important to me.

I had an emptiness in my heart; a sunken hole that became deeper and deeper with every family member that I lost. I found my list of people who I prayed to in heaven getting longer and longer as each one passed away becoming angels. Instead of asking God to protect them in my world, I was now asking these angles to protect me in mine.

One afternoon, almost a week after granny had passed, I had the whole house to myself. Frank took Arla and Tanner out for the day, which left me some time to do a few things around the house. I welcomed the quietness that surrounded me, being therapeutic; it was almost as if my mind needed the serenity. Finishing laundry, I brought my clothes upstairs to my bedroom. As I had done in the past, my eyes drifted toward CaileyAnne Lydia, making contact with the doll that sat motionless on the shelf. I sat the laundry basket down to put my clothes away and, as tradition continued, I heard nothing other than a familiar voice. It was at that moment that I heard, once again, “Please pick me up and hold me tight.” All I thought was… here we go again! Looking around, I recognized that I was the only one in the room, as there was no sleeping Frank snoring away in bed, no humming of the fan. I now stood a few feet away from the doll, smiling up at her as I looked directly at her face. Why is she only talking when I enter the room, why not Frank? Walking up to her, taking a closer look at the shelf that she rested upon, I started hitting the shelf and the wall, trying to make her talk to me. I thought, perhaps, the vibration of me entering the room every time was what was setting her off.

I continued as I banged away at the shelf, kicking the wall, making every effort to get her to ask me to pick her up and hold her tight, but no matter how hard I hit, she just wouldn’t talk, she wasn’t saying a word. I sat down, wondering what else I could do to make this doll talk. I slowly walked up to the shelf and, standing before CaileyAnne Lydia, I shook her ever so gently… nothing. I took a long look into her eyes, studying her. At that moment, it became apparent what I needed to do. Sliding her off the shelf, I took her, embracing her, bringing her close to my heart. It was then that I continued to pick her up and held her tight. I finally did what the doll asked. As I held the doll tightly in my arms, I thought, perhaps, it was my mother, who needed that one last hug before saying good-bye before she had to go. I continued to cradle her and, with one last hug, I gently placed her back on the shelf.

“Sometimes it’s better to put love into hugs than to put it into words”. ~ Author Unknown

The last time I heard from the doll was a few years ago. I was in my bedroom getting ready for work, ironing my clothes for the day. There was a horrible summer storm that morning, with pouring rain that pelted against the windows, loud thunder and vicious lightning that struck dangerously against the skies above me. I always hated lightning and have always been deathly afraid of it. Arla and Tanner walked to school and, even though their school was only a few houses away, I was getting concerned about them walking to school in such horrible weather. As this thought came to mind… should I drive the kids to school, the doll went off… “Please pick me up and hold me tight.” All I thought was… you decide to talk to me now?! It’s not the right time! Not giving it a second thought, I continued ironing my clothes for work. All of a sudden, a lightning bolt slapped against the sky with such force, that it lit up my entire bedroom. It rattled me to the point where I lost my breath. Again, my thoughts brought me back to Arla and Tanner, asking quietly to myself if I should put them in the truck and drive them the short distance, delivering them safely to the school’s front door. As if on cue, I heard the doll chime in a second time, “Please pick me up and hold me tight.” Listening to my inner voice and accepting the sign that was set before me, I paid attention to the doll, who was resting upon the shelf. That morning, I drove Arla and Tanner to school.

“Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.” ~Florence Scovel Shinn

Regrettably, I haven’t heard from CaileyAnne Lydia since. She no longer resides on my bedroom shelf and she has since retired to a room that we call the “Antique Room” adjacent to my bedroom. She rests comfortably with a ragdoll, whose name is Trudy, that was handmade by my grandmother’s sister, Gertrude back in the early 1970’s. There, they both sit together keeping each other company, sitting directly underneath the framed 1930’s wedding dress that once belonged and worn by Frank’s mom, Bubby, whose real name by the way happens to be Anne Lydia.

The Spiral Notebook…

Messages

Messages

 “Death is a debt we all must pay.”  ~Euripides

Death. Death has no discrimination; there’s no escaping it and each and every one of us will have the opportunity to experience it. Whether you are a person, an animal or a living flower, we will all at one point find death and, to be completely honest; it scares me. This was another reason why I decided to be baptized.  I wanted to make sure that I secured my place in heaven, right next to God and my family who are there now. I do believe with all my heart that there is a place for me in God’s Kingdom, but I am still afraid of the dying process and how I might get there. Surely, a common thought to most. In my dreams, I always die by electrocution; to the point where I feel my body vibrating, pulsating to every electrifying current, only to wake up before death finds me. Nobody ever wants to think of their own mortality. This is something that I have been trying to work within myself for many years.  I meditate, focusing on the heavens above me, the people and serenity that surround me. I watch God’s beauty, feeling comforted, safe and an indisputable believer of what waits for me. I believe in after death communication (ADC) and near death experiences (NDE) and have read many books on the subject. I believe that our loved ones can communicate with us after they have passed on. These are the beliefs that comfort me.  Still, there are times that I can’t help but to have some unpredicted fear about dying.

It was a Sunday evening on September 9, 2001, when I had received a phone call from the Chaplain at Weiss Memorial Hospital.  Hearing her introduce herself as the Chaplain brought immediate concern. The Chaplain was informing me that my mother was brought to the emergency room and placed in intensive care and was on a ventilator.  She shared with me that my mother wasn’t doing very well.  Not knowing exactly what she meant by “not doing very well,” I had asked her if this was a situation where I needed to contact other family members and the Chaplain said, yes, it was.

I was actually surprised that I received such a call from the hospital, as I knew my brother, Jeff, was listed as the next of kin in my mother’s medical chart. The second name listed in mom’s chart was my own. But, Jeff didn’t have my phone number to call me directly and, because of HIPAA laws, where a patient’s medical and private information is protected, the Chaplain legally could not give out any information that was detailed in my mother’s chart, my telephone number included. Therefore, the hospital had to call and tell me my mother was in the hospital.  Jeff didn’t have my phone number because we hadn’t spoken to one another since 1993, almost 8 years.

Upon hearing that mom was in ICU, I made a phone call to my brother, Steve.  As I was dialing, I remembered the last time I had informed him of a death; his own precious grandfather’s years before. Now, here I am again, notifying him that his mother isn’t doing well and that her chances for survival were basically hopeless. We chatted for a while about the seriousness of the situation and I told him that he may want to consider a trip to Chicago. We both came to the realization that this may be the time for our mother’s passing.  Steve and his family were making arrangements to drive to Chicago from Bay City, Michigan, and that we would see them most likely in the early morning hours, as it was approximately a six hour drive.

Frank and I also shared the news with our children.  At the time, Arlaraye was nine years old and Tanner was five.  Both old enough to realize what death was and what saying good-bye was all about, they were both sad to learn about their grandmother’s condition but, at the same time, they were vague with their emotions.  Mom never had a close relationship with either of my children for the fact that she never made an effort to bond or connect with them; a pattern that she had once shared with me.

Throughout the years, mom had been in and out of the hospital quite often; mostly brought on by her own health habits.  My mother wasn’t in the best physical condition. She didn’t eat properly and was overweight, needed the aid of an oxygen tank on a daily basis and was a chronic smoker. She was diabetic, had high cholesterol and also had high blood pressure.  In the past, mom was always being admitted to the hospital, as her immune system would be low, causing her to get lung infections.  She would stay a couple of days, get cleared up and then was released home.  This routine went on for many years.  Mom admitted that she would even feel better promising to work on her health, but always went back to her unhealthy behavior.

I had learned from the Chaplain that my mom wasn’t feeling well, so mom called my brother, Jeff, letting him know that she wasn’t feeling right and asked him to come over. It was apparent in her voice that she wasn’t herself, therefore, Jeff instructed mom to call an ambulance to take her to the hospital.  Once the ambulance arrived at her building, they found mom almost unresponsive.  This was when mom was rushed to the emergency room, where she laid in a sedated coma.

On Monday, September 10, while Steve and his family were on their way to Chicago, Frank and I went to the hospital that afternoon to see what information we could find out about mom’s condition.  I called into work that day, informing them of my situation and that I would not be into work.

Once at the hospital, Mom’s doctor met with Frank and me.  The doctor confirmed that while at home, mom had developed a blood clot in her leg. The doctors ran a battery of tests and it appeared that mom had a DVT, a Deep Vein Thrombosis.  A DVT is the formation of a blood clot in the deep vein and is a dangerous condition because the clot can travel up to the heart or lungs and block a vessel feeding those organs, causing cardiac or pulmonary ischemia, cardiac arrest and even death. Mom had one in her leg, which traveled directly to her heart; most likely caused by her sitting and inactivity for a prolonged period of time, her extreme weight and excessive smoking. Over the next couple of days, the doctors were going to perform additional tests on mom to find out the extent of her medical condition.

We met with the hospital Chaplain, who had originally informed me that mom was in the hospital.  She asked me if I had any other siblings and I told her yes, my brother, Steve, who was on his way from Michigan with his family. I also relayed that I had a brother, Jeff, but we weren’t on speaking terms. The Champlain shared with us that because of my mother’s serious condition, there was a possibility that a life or death decision may need to be made; the possible decision of taking her off of life support. I told the Chaplain that I didn’t want to make that decision on my own and that I would need to discuss this with my brothers and, if needed, obtain their consent.  I remember asking her for Jeff’s phone number so that I could speak with him regarding my mother.  But, she told me that she couldn’t give me his phone number, due to the HIPAA laws, the same reason she couldn’t give my number out to Jeff.  But, she was happy to make a call on my behalf.  I said thank you and asked her to have Jeff call me.

Frank and I arrived back home that Monday evening and we were mentally exhausted. The realization of my mother’s pending demise was weighing heavily on my mind, not to mention the fact that I would soon be in contact with Jeff, who I haven’t spoken to in over eight years. We left our relationship not on the best of terms and I couldn’t help but to wonder what it’s going to be like when we do speak again.  Not only did Jeff and I go our separate ways, but Jeff also severed all ties with Steve. It was almost as if Jeff fell off the face of the earth. I can understand where he and I had differences, but Jeff made the same effort in distancing himself from Steve, as well.

The last time that I had communication with Jeff was the evening when Jeff hung up on me during that one revealing evening back in 1993. It was a couple days after Jeff’s father, Melvin, died and mom called me, letting me know that Jeff would be contacting me, as he was going to ask me for two hundred dollars to help cremate his father.  I informed mom that I wasn’t about to give Jeff any money toward a cremation of a man who treated me like shit all my life and whose last words to me were calling me a whore. I believed my reasoning’s were justified. I could tell that mom didn’t want to discuss it, making her feel uncomfortable. My words and anger left my mother silent.  Mom knew how I felt about Melvin and just bringing up his name to me was a touchy subject.  I asked mom to have Jeff call me and I would be happy to explain to him why I wasn’t going to give him any money. It was at that moment that I made the decision to tell Jeff the true reason why I wasn’t going to hand him over any money. There was no way that I was going to give money to help lay to rest a fucking child molester.  Jeff could have cremated him in a garbage can with a can of lighter fluid and a book of matches for all I cared!

About an hour later, Jeff called me and the demeanor in his voice sounded as if he didn’t want to make any small talk whatsoever; he wanted to get down to business… money business.  As far as I knew, Jeff did not know that Melvin had sexually abused me as a child.  Nor, did I think he realized that Steve was also one of his victims.  If Jeff ever had any concept of us being abused, he never made it apparent to either Steve or me.  My thoughts were once I explain everything to Jeff, he would truly understand, if not respect, why I wouldn’t give him the money to help cremate his father.  Jeff immediately asked me for the two hundred dollars.  I told him that I wasn’t going to give him any money to help bury his father. Jeff couldn’t understand why I was being so adamant about the situation and he started debating with me.  It was at that point that I said to him, “Jeff, this is the reason why I’m not going to give you the money for Melvin.”  Just as I was about to spit out the words, “It’s because your father is a filthy child molester,” Jeff hung up on me, ending our conversation with an abrupt dial tone in my ear.  It was at that point that I became very livid, thinking, how Jeff dare hang up on me.  Frank was standing by my side and I told Frank that Jeff just hung up on me and he wouldn’t even let me explain to him why I’m not going to just hand over all that money. I started crying and, the more I cried, the more upset and pissed off I became.  I was outraged at the fact that he wouldn’t even give me the opportunity to let me explain why.  I dialed Jeff back and I was going to scream as loud as I could in his ear that his father liked to fuck little children and that he doesn’t need to be cremated because his ass is going directly to hell and the devil would do it for him!  But, my mother answered the phone instead. I shared with mom that Jeff hung up on me and I asked to speak with him.  He refused to come to the phone and talk to me, only making me angrier.  This is when I lost it and said to my mom, “You can tell your prick of a son that the reason that I won’t give him any money for his father is because Melvin was nothing but a child molester.  And if he doesn’t believe me, then he can call his brother in Michigan and ask him, too!”  It was then my turn to hang up the phone.  I immediately hung up on my mother and started crying all over again. It was done, finished, my horrible secret that I had been carrying around inside me for over thirty years had finally been revealed, not only to my brother, but to my mother as well. It wasn’t my intentions to blurt out to my mother that Melvin sexually abused me and my brother, Steve, ever since we were young children.  I had plans to never share that with my mother or any other family member. It was my own horrible little secret. I was so upset over the fact that Jeff didn’t give me enough respect to even try and listen to me. Everything was always about Jeff and his own world.

As one would imagine, my phone started ringing immediately, relentlessly, but I wouldn’t answer it.  It was my mother calling, surely trying to figure out what the hell just happened.  I was so upset that I just couldn’t even talk with her.  She tried calling all night, so much in fact, that I had to take the phone off of the hook.  Eventually, I knew that I would have to speak with her.  I did my best to avoid her phone calls all evening.  I went to work the next morning and this is where mom caught me.  She dialed the main number and asked to speak with me. I knew that it was something that I had to do.  I went behind a closed door in one of the offices and spoke with her privately.  Mom had asked me why I never told her what was going on between Melvin and me.  I shared with her that young children just don’t tell… they just don’t say anything to anyone, they are afraid to, it hides deep within them, never to be mentioned or revealed. During our whole conversation, not once did mom tell me that she was sorry; that she was sorry for what Melvin had done to two of her beautiful and innocent children and everything that we had went through. Not once did mom curse Melvin to hell. Not once did mom make an attempt to defend me or Steve. Not once did mom say she would have killed him if she knew. Not once did mom share one word of remorse with me.  Our conversation was as if she called to tell me that she had burnt dinner. As always, mom showed no emotion whatsoever.  I was hoping that at least now she would show some anger, some hatred toward Melvin, knowing that he had sexually abused her children throughout their young life. I would be screaming every obscenity there was; telling my child that I was so sorry for what they had to go through, shedding tears right along with them, but my mom not once shed a tear.  Instinctively, it was at that precise moment that I was absolutely convinced mom knew all along about the sexual abuse and what had happened to me and my brother so many years before, even knowing when it happened and where it happened.  Mom never worked, rarely left the house, and basically was always home.  Surely, she had to have her suspicions about Melvin always wanting to take us with him everywhere. All that my mind could think about is how could she not know? Her lack of response and her quietness about the situation truly led me to believe that she knew about all the abuse that Melvin forced on her two children. She had finally been relieved of her own torture that she had kept deep within her heart and soul. The guilt of not protecting her child, not one, but two children, from a sexual predator must have been an unspeakable torment in her own mind.  To spare us both further discomfort, I told mom that I don’t want to talk about it, it was all in the past, done and over with and there was absolutely no reason to relive it. We both never talked about Melvin sexually abusing me ever again.

Needless to say, Jeff never did get the money that he wanted to help cremate his father. I don’t even know if mom ever shared with him exactly why I wouldn’t give him any money. Knowing Jeff, he probably thought Steve and I made it all up. It didn’t matter because I didn’t want anything to do with Jeff from that moment on. He wasn’t a brother to me at that time, the time I needed him most.  We both stopped talking with one another. He led his life, I led mine and we both went our own separate ways.  I stopped acknowledging him as a brother, as a family member. Over the years, I learned from my mother that Jeff got his girlfriend pregnant, moved to Wisconsin with her and years later, after having more children, they eventually married.  Unfortunately, because of Jeff’s actions that evening, our relationship was never the same and this was the reason why that I did not see or talk with Jeff in over eight years.

It was shortly after Frank and I arrived home from the hospital that evening that I finally received that phone call from Jeff.  Hearing the phone ring, I was anxious, nervous, as I wasn’t sure how Jeff’s demeanor was going to be. To my surprise, Jeff was very compassionate and sensible. Our conversation between us was short, but very at ease.  I relayed to Jeff that Steve was on his way to Chicago.  I asked if we could all meet at the hospital the next morning to find out what else the doctors had found regarding mom’s condition. Jeff agreed and we left the conversation on a mutual and sensible tone.  Hanging up the phone, I shared with Frank that the conversation went a lot smoother than anticipated.  Even though Jeff was disrespectable to me eight years prior, I wasn’t going to demonstrate any anger or bitterness.  There wasn’t time for that.

I poured myself a well deserved glass of wine and worked up my courage as I realized that I now had the heartbreaking responsibility of contacting my grandmother who lived in Wisconsin.  Granny was now in an assisted nursing home in Portage. Granny had no idea that her second born, who is now on life support and fighting for her life, will most likely pass before her. The thought of telling granny that she may lose another child just broke my heart.  Her son, my uncle Bob, passed away in 1997, where he was having a heart attack, drove himself to the emergency room, only to pass days later. He was only 59 years old. I decided to contact the social worker at the nursing home instead of speaking with granny directly.  I was in fear that such news would jeopardize granny’s own health. I shared with the social worker what was happening and that I would contact them once I find out further information from the doctors and mom’s additional testing.

Waiting for Steve and his family’s arrival, Frank and I set up the basement where they could rest comfortably until the next day when we all headed to the hospital. I finally had a moment to myself, to reflect on what was going on and what could possibly happen.  I couldn’t believe what was put before me.  As a child, one never thinks about the time when a parent will pass away, how it will happen, or even when.  Sitting there, it all seemed so unreal to me, as if I was on the outside looking in, watching someone else’s family tragedy, but realizing that it was actually my own.

It was 1:00 in the morning when Steve arrived with his wife, Mary, and their three children, all exhausted from their long ride in.  We set the children up for bed in the basement and they fell quickly back asleep.  The adults headed to the living room, where we started to express our thoughts and feelings.  Like me, Steve couldn’t believe that this moment had finally arrived, where we would be making a life or death decision.  I told Steve that I spoke with Jeff and that we would all meet at the hospital the next morning around 11:00 a.m. After another hour of chat, we all headed to bed, as we knew that the morning would be fast approaching.

As suspected, the morning rolled in a lot faster than I wanted it to.  It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and in a bittersweet way, it was the most beautiful day outside.  I could see the sun shining through the bedroom windows and I couldn’t help but to think how I was admiring the summer morning when I suddenly remembered that mom was lying in the ICU hooked up to machines and tubes. It was around 8:30 a.m. and Frank was still sleeping so I decided to get out of bed and start my day.  I went to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee for everyone, thinking that we were surely going to need it.  I laid out coffee cups, sugar and creamer, along with the breakfast goodies I bought the day before.  Knowing that I had to make a phone call, I headed to the living room to call work, letting them know that I would not be in again that day, as my family and I had plans to meet with my mother’s doctors.  I heard Nikki, our receptionist, pick up my call, greeting me as she always did.  I told her it was me and that I wouldn’t be in to work.  This is when Nikki asked me if I knew what was going on in New York.  I told her I didn’t and wasn’t sure what she was referring to.  Nikki advised me to turn on the television.   Turning it on, I suddenly became aware that the news station was showing live footage of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York. Smoke billowing out from the top floors of the building, along with flames that seemed to be licking the building on every floor.  I could see people hanging out of the windows, screaming for help, as they waved cloths to show their existence against the massive silver building. I could also hear the panic and distress in the reporter’s voice.  I knew that whatever was happening, it wasn’t good.  I was starting to become concerned and frightened and asked Nikki literally, “What the fuck was going on?!”  This is when she shared with me that an airplane had crashed directly into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  I could see the destruction that the airplane had left behind and knew that many lives were already lost.  I hung up the phone with Nikki and immediately went to wake up Frank.  I told him that something was happening in New York and that I felt it was best that he get up to watch, as something serious was going on.  It wasn’t shortly after Frank came into the living room that Steve and Mary followed behind.  All four of us stared helplessly, watching the TV with horrible blank stares on our faces.  It was only moments later that we saw on live TV another airplane flying into the World Trade Center, this time making a direct hit into the South Tower. All of us gasped at the same time, with all of us pretty much making the same comment, “OH SHIT!”  It was becoming apparent that this was not an accident.  We were later being informed that the planes that flew into the towers were hijacked and this was just the beginning.  Not knowing what other targets the hijackers had in mind, my concerns grew more and more through the morning, wondering if the kids were safe in school and if we should go and pick them up.  Frank made a phone call to the kids’ school and we were reassured that all was safe and that we didn’t need to be alarmed.

Like robots, we all huddled around the TV, as if we were watching a Bears-Packers football game.  With every update that we heard, we all shook our heads with disbelief.  As much as we wanted to stay home and watch the tragedy that was unfolding directly in front of our eyes, the tragedy of all these peoples’ lives, we were quickly reminded that we had a tragedy of our own; mom and her own life. We left for the hospital, where we met with the physicians, as well as Jeff for the first time in eight years.

Once at the hospital, we met with mom’s physicians. The news didn’t look good for mom.  The doctors performed multiple tests and we were informed that she had no brain activity whatsoever. There was no clinical evidence of brain function upon physical examination. She had no response to pain stimulation and no cranial nerve reflexes, including no eye movement or blinking and she had fixed pupils. Mom was completely brain dead and her condition was irreversible. Mom was at the total mercy of life support.  Machines were breathing for her, pumping air into her lungs, one breath at a time.  Not only did she look dead on the outside, sadly, you can see that there was nothing living on the inside either.

It was apparent that my brothers and I had to make one of the most important decisions of our lives, of our mother’s life.  It was evident that mom was not going to get any better.  It was then that we found out that mom had a DNR request in her chart – Do not Resuscitate. It was apparent that the decision has already been made for us.  My brothers and I, along with our significant others went back to my house and talked for the longest time, for hours, discussing mom’s fate.  I was actually surprised how well Jeff and I were getting along.  It was as if nothing happened between us eight years prior and we just picked up our relationship where it left off.  Perhaps, it was the moment, surely having a great deal to do with mom.  Everyone was being cordial and respectable toward each other and their feelings, regardless of how the person was feeling from the past.  It made me think that this is how we should have gotten along years ago. In the end, after discussing mom’s destiny, we all knew that this was the best decision that we could have made for her. Let mom’s mind, body and soul be at peace, let her be lifted up into God’s arms. It was now her turn to go home.

It was later learned that hijackers flew planes into the Twin Towers that were no longer standing. Flight 77 was flown directly into the Pentagon building in Washington and Flight 93 went down into a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands of lives were taken that morning. I remember leaving to go and pick up Arla from school that afternoon and all the parents were around talking about what happened to our country that morning.  As I sat in the truck, waiting for the kids to get out of school, I noticed that the skies above me were an eerie quiet, where stillness filled the air. No planes whatsoever were being permitted to fly in the airspace.

During the last two days, the 9/11 tragedy was all over the television with news, special reports, and interviews. It was almost as if every American ate, slept and breathed 9/11. We couldn’t get enough of it. But, this day, my focus was now on my mother.  We all made our way back to the hospital, where it was time to take mom off of life support and say our final good-byes.  I never did like hospitals, even though I worked in one.  They have always represented bad news for me; making me feel uncomfortable, as if death is waiting around every single corner, sensing sickness on every floor and in every patient’s face.  It was rare that I walked into a hospital that I didn’t feel grief or sorrow. I felt it all around me.

Frank being in the medical field and working in a hospital for over twenty years, took initiative and helped us prepare for what was about to happen. Frank worked at Columbus Hospital, where he worked in the Emergency Room department and then eventually working with brain tumor patients on the neurosurgical floor.  Frank saw people die from their brain tumors, as well as seeing people survive, walking directly out of the hospital to continue their lives. Frank was wonderful talking with the physicians and even the hospital Chaplain.

Everyone met within the waiting room in ICU at Weiss Memorial. The Chaplain arrived just moments after we did, asking how we were all doing, letting us know that she was there for support and will guide us through this ordeal.  The kids were coloring in their coloring books, which kept them busy.  The TV was on in the waiting room, which was practically screaming 9/11 at you.  There was a lot of apprehension in the air, not only with what our country was going through, but what mom’s three children were going through and what they would have to do in only a few short moments.

The nurses were in mom’s room, preparing her for her final moments of life. The thought of knowing that you had control of someone’s life in the palm of your hand made my mind sick with regret.  Was there any turning back at that point? Not according to the physicians. Mom was entirely brain dead. She had no thoughts, feelings or acknowledgement that we were there, unless she felt us spiritually.  The nurses call us into mom’s room to say our final good-byes.  Steve, Jeff, Frank and I follow the Chaplain into mom’s room, all wrapping our way around her bed. We were quiet, as we listened to the machines in the room pumping, watching them breathe air into mom’s body.  Mom lay there, motionless, with tubes down her throat, completely oblivious that we were all there around her, for her. The nurse in the room was twisting cords and readjusting tubes, working with the machines that were obviously keeping her alive. My heart was racing as I stood at the end of mom’s bed. My palms were sweaty and my bottom lip started to quiver.  Nobody should be placed in the position that I was in, that my brothers were in, but, yet, death finds us all and there was no escaping it for mom.

Feeling it was important, I asked the hospital Chaplain to say a prayer for mom before they ended life support.  My two brothers, Frank and I, along with the Chaplain stood over mom while each of us held hands. With the Chaplain’s hand resting on mom’s shoulder, we recited the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,

The power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.

Amen.

Through broken words I managed to say good-bye to mom, asking her to say hello to grandpa for me and that I missed him.  It started to get emotional for me; especially when I knew mom was going to meet grandpa on the other side at any moment. For some reason, I didn’t feel comfortable crying openly in front of everyone, so I held back my tears as much as I could. Saying the Lord’s Prayer over my mother though was comforting to me. It felt like a completion; almost like a cleansing; a purification of her soul for all her torments in her life, for all her secrets that she held in her heart and mind for so many years.  Frank, I and the Chaplain were the only ones reciting the Lord’s Prayer, while Steve and Jeff remained silent.  I got the impression that they were lost in what to say, just as I had been so many years before, as I once stood not knowing how to pray or what it all meant. I held my rosary in the palm of my hand while praying, the same rosary that I was baptized with just the year before. I didn’t realize it, but I must have held onto Jeff’s hand so intensely that the rosary left indentation marks in the palm  of his hand. Perhaps, subconsciously, I was trying to send a message that he should be a better brother, a better listener and that family is worth holding onto.

I cannot say the Lord’s Prayer today without being touched, remembering this faithful memory; bringing me back to this one particular moment every single time, the day that we prayed over mom .  The Chaplain shared a few personal words, along with giving mom her last rites.  Chaplain asked God to prepare my mother’s soul for death, asking for forgiveness of all her sins and anointing her, preparing her for a safe journey, asking God to accept my mother into His loving kingdom.

After prayers and rituals were done, we were asked to leave the room while they prepared for my mother’s death.  They didn’t want us to watch them disconnecting mom from all the various machines; the heart monitor and breathing machine, eventually taking her final breath away.  We walked back to the waiting room. The television was on and was showing the latest news and updates with the 911 attack. They replayed the same scenes over and over like a bad sitcom, as we continuously watched the planes hit the World Trade Centers, exploding into huge fireballs or as we watched so many innocent and terrified people making the decision to jump to their own demise, where death waited for them once they made it to their final destination, the ground below. It was my only hope and prayer that God greeted them at the end of their journey with open arms, embracing each and every one of them with His tremendous love and light. It was only a few moments later that the Chaplain and nurse came to me and my family letting us know that mom, too, had passed, completing her own final journey. I didn’t realize how emotional I would get.  I never considered myself close to my mom, but I actually broke down when the nurse told us “she was gone.” As I had asked for the 9/11 victims, I was now praying for God to extend the same invitation to my mother.

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”  ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

My brothers and I had made the difficult decision taking mom off of life support on September 14, 2001, where she passed at 10:53 a.m., just three days after the 9/11 attacks.  Mom was only 62 years old. I watched the people on the television and even made a comment that it didn’t help that I was not only grieving for all the lives lost on 9/11, but for my mother as well.  I had such mixed emotions about exactly what I was grieving for.  I didn’t know if I was more upset at the fact that my only mother had passed or if I was more upset and grieving for the mother that I never had, for the mother-daughter relationship that I should have had in my life, but never did. I felt in my heart that it was the latter. Sadly, my mother and I didn’t have a close relationship, something that she just wasn’t receptive to having in her life. But, now, death made everything so final.

After mom’s death that morning I, once again, went home to call my grandmother to let her know that her daughter had passed away. The hospital staff made sure that there was a priest there with her when I delivered the news.  “Granny, I’m calling to let you know that mom had passed away today.”  Speaking with granny, I can tell she was in shock, but the priest was making sure that she understood what was going on. Granny’s response was what any mother would say after losing a child, “Oh no, I lost another one.”  The priest sat with granny and they prayed together. I hung up the phone with tears in my eyes and an uncontrollable pain in my heart for my grandmother, as this was now the second child she had lost.  Framing a picture of mom when she was young, I sent it to granny so that she would have something to look at, possibly to talk to. The picture was taken in a sepia tone, which made mom’s face glow with radiance. Looking into her eyes, I could once see a happy, lively, vibrant young woman, who exuberated love and kindness.  This was the mother that I should have known, should have been best friends with, who I should have been able to tell my deepest darkest secrets to. This is the mom that my heart ached for, not the one who I had known during my life.

My mother, Elvera Lee - Circa Late 1950's.

My mother, Elvera Lee – Circa Late 1950’s.

Mom looked so happy in this picture and I couldn’t help but to think that this was a different time in her life, where she loved life, as there was nobody there to take it away from her, to beat her, nobody there to verbally humiliate her. It was a time before self inflicting alcohol abuse.  I don’t know the event in her life that inspired such a beautiful picture, but I knew that this is how granny would remember her.

My brothers and I decided to have mom cremated, which was done on September 16. These were mom’s final wishes.  Shortly after mom was cremated, we went through some of her things.  Jeff went to her apartment and grabbed whatever looked important, stuffed it in paper bags and took everything to his house in Wisconsin.  Steve and his family had since gone back home to Michigan, therefore, Jeff inviting my family to his home, Jeff and I went through everything to see what was important and what wasn’t. I truly felt that Jeff and I were making amends with our relationship. I know there were issues in the past between us, but we were both grown adults, with each of us having children of our own now.  I had looked deep within myself and decided to forgive and forget.  What had happened, I left it exactly where it should be… in the past.  It appeared that Jeff and I were moving forward… or so I thought.  Mom did have some important papers; papers that showed that she had a small life insurance policy, which if it was split evenly, between her three children, wouldn’t make us rich, but it could have help with a bill or two or something else we may have needed.  Jeff took it upon himself to initiate the process of the funds and getting the paperwork started. It was agreed between the three of us, my brothers and I, that we would split the insurance money, equally, between the three of us.  Unfortunately, it did not happen that way.  With Jeff being in total control of the assets, Jeff gave Steve and myself only a very small portion of the insurance money up front and told us that he would send more at a later date.  In the end, Jeff decided to keep the rest of the funds for himself. He went onto explain in an email to me that he lost money as he was not able to work at his construction job one weekend, due to all the running around he had to do because of our mother’s passing, therefore justifying to himself why he was going to keep the rest of the money.  Perhaps, Jeff didn’t take into consideration that I, too, ran errands, made numerous phone calls to funeral homes, meeting with the funeral home, as well as making arrangements to have my mother’s body transferred to a funeral home for cremation.  I also made arrangements for her obituary to be placed in the local newspaper, also paying for the services. Not once, did I bring that to anyone’s attention. But, once again, Jeff was thinking only of himself.  Jeff’s email was the last time I heard from my brother, as he never again contacted me or my brother, Steve.  Steve and I were completely astonished by Jeff’s actions. We both couldn’t believe that Jeff had cheated his own siblings out of thousands of dollars, only to gratify himself.  Jeff did not reflect on our feelings, as he only looked out for his own gain.  Not once did Jeff take into consideration how others may feel.  I found it quite sad actually. Jeff had every opportunity to make amends with his siblings, especially with me, but he had made the decision instead to leave and end our relationship, once again, over money.  He not only lost his sister for the second time in his life, but also his brother.  We were so close at one point in our early lives. Growing up, we all went through hardship together; we all had nothing to eat together, we didn’t have any money, we didn’t have lots of clothes, we were all deprived… together. When we had nothing, we knew we always had each other. Is money that important to someone where you would jeopardize a relationship?  Can greed be that strong? Money should, under no circumstances whatsoever, interfere with the price of a relationship, family, a loved one.  It only led me to believe that if a person could do something like this to their family then there’s a reason why; a reason they needed the money more and I just hoped that whatever Jeff needed it for, it helped him out tremendously. Having the extra money wouldn’t break me or make me rich in either way. Money is not worth destroying family relationships but, sadly, Jeff didn’t value these same opinions. Once again, Jeff was out of my life and I haven’t seen or spoken to him in twelve years, the same amount of time that my mother has been gone.

During the time I was with Jeff looking through my mom’s belongings, I found and kept a small picture of her from when she was approximately three or four years old. Blue eyed and curly blond hair, I saw my own resemblance within her.  I also found a notebook, which I immediately slipped into my bag, thinking that I would look at it closer, later, when I was alone. Completely forgetting about the notebook for a couple of weeks, I remembered and pulled it out of my bag. Flipping through the notebook, I felt my heart sink with every page I turned, completely astonished at what I was looking at. Mom had torn out articles that she found in newspapers and magazines. Some of the pieces were even in mom’s own handwriting.  I found articles on happiness and being respected and loved. I found one article she clipped from the newspaper titled, “Recipe for a Better Life.” I found clippings about togetherness, where it talked about death is nothing at all, as they have only slipped away into another room… I saw articles on hugging and a note titled, “What is a Friend.” Continuing on through the pages, I found Dear Abby articles that mom felt was important enough, clipping and saving them within her notebook. However, the articles that I found so significant were the ones titled, “Loneliness” and “A Parent’s Prayer.”  Reading these two pieces made me come to the realization that mom was hurting so much inside, aching to have any form of this contact with another human being. Every article that she taped neatly into her notebook was how she must have felt in her heart, mind and soul. Unfortunately, mom could not express these words openly to her children, therefore, she did it the only way she knew how and that was by taping her thoughts and feelings into a spiral notebook.

Mom's Messages

Mom’s Messages

Mom 2

Mom 5

Mom 8

Mom 7

Mom 8

As time went on and weeks went by, my mind started thinking about the mother I wished I could have had in my life while growing up, while getting married, while having children of my own, the mother who was taped within those pages of her notebook.  A part of me felt resentful and cheated; knowing that all mom had to do was open her heart, showing me that she cared. But, I knew that she was incapable of doing so.  Her life with Melvin throughout those many years had deteriorated her emotions, her happiness, and her passion for life, as well as for everything else that surrounded her. Melvin stripped her emotions away, just like he stripped away the sweet innocence of her two children.  Surely, she loved her children in her own unique way; she just had a very hard time expressing it to us. My heart ached for the mom that I could have had, should have had. I wished for my children to have the special grandma relationship that I was blessed with, with my own grandmother. What a special and amazing relationship that they were cheated out of; what my mother was cheated out of.  Although, do you miss something that you never had in your life to begin with?

I continue to believe that there’s a purpose, a reason why we are here on this earth.  We are here to receive learning lessons.  The values we learn on a daily basis, within our lives, we will take back home with us to share with others in God’s world, where we will then be the teacher. I have often wondered, questioning what my learning lessons are as I travel through my life. Is it through the sexual abuse by Melvin, learning how to be strong and overcome any obstacles that are set before me? Is it through the relationship with my mother, where I have learned to be open, expressive, to be the best parent I could be, or through my relationship with my grandparents, where I was shown that life is the most beautiful and precious gift that God has given us, therefore, living it with compassion and love? I have been through so much in my life and I have tried to make every effort to find the positive side of each and every situation… my learning lessons. I have learned to love with all my heart, unconditionally, always letting others know that I love them, sharing what I have gained and cherish life to the best of my ability, as I never know when it will all be taken away from me, when life will end, when death will find me…

If there’s ever a time where I questioned my mother’s love for me, I always know that I can return and read through her many messages that lie deep within the pages of her spiral notebook.

 

“Well, right now… I’m not dead.  But when I am, it’s like… I don’t know, I guess it’s like being inside a book that nobody’s reading…. An old one. It’s up on a library shelf, so you’re safe and everything, but the book hasn’t been checked out for a long, long time. All you can do is wait. Just hope somebody’ll pick it up and start reading.” 

~Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Hours after mom’s death, she, herself, sat waiting on a shelf, but she wasn’t a book, she was a doll; a ghost, a spirit.  Mom had one last thing she needed to say to me before leaving, therefore, she sat quietly, patiently, waiting for the right moment, until I picked her up and held her tight…

References:

http://www.adcrf.org/

http://www.after-death.com/

http://www.nderf.org/

http://www.near-death.com/