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/
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A Soul’s Connection: A Special Friendship

Jack and Donatta in 8th Grade - 1977.

Jack and Donatta in 8th Grade – 1977.

“A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”  ~Lois Wyse

It was the seventh grade. It was a brand new school. It was a time that would change my life forever.

I went to a grade school called, Stockton, on Montrose and Beacon in Chicago; the same school where my teacher would let me out early to run home so that I wouldn’t get my ass kicked after school.  I was happy that I wouldn’t be going to that school any longer. I made not one friend there. At the time, Stockton School only went up to grade six, therefore, I was being transferred to a brand new school, Joan F. Arai Middle School, which was down on Wilson Avenue and Hazel Street. Here is where I met my best friend, my kindred spirit, my soul’s infinite connection, Donatta Erzic.

We both had an immediate connection with one another, sitting together in class, laughing, joking, creating a friendship. I remember when Donatta would go into one of her laughing spurts, she would laugh so hard that she would fall off her chair, sliding herself down the wall and onto the floor, while her legs continued to rest on her chair. Giggling with her, I would try and help her up off the floor, as the teacher, Ms. Gold, would instruct us to get back into our seats.

The hot show at the time was a cop show, Starsky and Hutch.  Donatta and I would pretend to be these television characters, passing notes in class and solving crimes, with her being Starsky and me being Hutch. Donatta would wear the big sweaters like Starsky use to wear, too. What a great time we used to have in class.

Starsky & Hutch

Starsky & Hutch

Our seventh grade school year was soon to be over and summer vacation was on its way.  Every summer, my brother and I would go to Wisconsin to stay the summer with my grandparents on their farm and I knew that I was going to miss my new found friend.  Before the school year ended, Donatta wrote me a sweet note, letting me know how much fun she had, committing to a friendship between us.

Donatta's Letter

Donatta’s Letter

I wrote to Donatta every week and, as promised, she replied back. We had a ritual with our letters however. Because my granny was nosy and wanted to know what I wrote about, I wrote one general very vague letter, which was the one that granny always read. But, on the side, I wrote my “real” letter, sharing with Donatta more personal writings and things I wanted to share with Donatta only, not my grandmother. Walking to the end of the driveway to mail my letter to Donatta, I would quickly place my secret letter inside the envelope so that granny wouldn’t see. Sealing and tucking my letter inside, I closed the lid to the mailbox.  Raising the red flag, signifying that there’s a letter to be picked up, I waited for the mailman to take my letter that was soon to be on a journey to Chicago. Days would pass, as I watched for the mailman.  I couldn’t wait to get a return letter from Donatta.

Day after day, I would wait for the mailman to bring the mail.  Once he drove off, I would grab the mail, looking to see if I received a letter and, soon enough, there within the other envelopes, was a letter for me! Upon receiving my mail from Donatta, I would immediately open the envelope, sneaking one of the letters into my pocket.  I shared with Donatta that my granny read all our letters back and forth to each other, so I asked her to write two… one for granny’s eyes and another for me.  We continued this correspondence throughout the summer until we could see each other again when school started.

Eighth grade had arrived, where Donatta and I shared, once again, the same classes and homeroom, where we became closer as friends and sharing secrets, as young girls would often do. This was the year that I met her family and she met mine, accepting where and the way I lived, the way I was being raised, accepting the horrors that I lived every single day of my life.  I was able to share anything with Donatta.  She was a person that I knew I could trust and she was the only one in my life who knew my deepest and darkest secret… that I was being sexually abused by the man who was labeled as my step father. I have always felt that Donatta was meant to come into my life for a reason, to be there with me, for me, to protect me. Her arrival couldn’t have been any more precise.

“Friends are kisses blown to us by angels.”  ~Author Unknown

 Donatta was true to her words, “Once I meet a friend I like staying pals for a long time.” The year was 1976 and, 38 years later, we are still friends, best friends and even more.

Donatta wasn’t only my friend, she was my teacher. She taught me many things that my own mother could not.  She took me to the next steps of feminine hygiene, where she showed me how to use a tampon. “Girls don’t wear pads anymore, they wear tampons,” she said.  Buying my first box, she demonstrated with a tampon and her fingers, showing me how to insert and use them.  Later that evening, Donatta gave me a call, asking how I was coming along wearing tampons, making sure that I had no questions and that everything was working out okay.  Proudly, I told her that it was going great and how much easier it was to use tampons… except for one thing.  “What’s that, she asked?”  I shared with her that it’s nice using tampons, but I have gone through a whole box already and that I’m almost out. “How can that be?” There’s like 24 of them in the box?” Donatta said.  I told her that I pee a lot and that whenever I went to the bathroom, I’d pull the tampon out so I could pee. “Oh my God! You don’t have to pull the tampon out every time you go to the bathroom. Don’t you know you have two holes down there?!” Embarrassed, I told her no, I didn’t know that and every time I went to the bathroom, I’m pull it out. I thought the tampon was like a plug… how can the pee come out if I’m all plugged up? Once again, Donatta was my teacher. This has been our little joke between us for the past 38 years.

I remember the time when Donatta said she would take me to go and see my grandmother.  My grandfather had recently passed away and Donatta was gracious enough to drive up to Madison, Wisconsin so that I can spend the weekend with granny.  It was also the day that Donatta found out she was going to have a baby, her first. Here we are both sitting in the car, driving the highway, while my best friend had morning sickness – a severe case of morning sickness.  Between dry heaves and several cans of Sprite, we finally made it to granny’s place. There, Donatta sat recovering from her three hour ordeal in the car. We decided to get comfortable for the evening and snapped a few pictures while granny sat watching her television shows.

Granny had bunny knick knacks and behind her back, we tied a lace around the bunnies neck.  This was Donatta’s way of telling the world that the “rabbit had died!”

The Rabbit Died!

The Rabbit Died!

The next morning, I decided to make breakfast for us all.  While Donatta was in the bathroom, dealing with her morning sickness no doubt, I started cooking.  The moment that Donatta walked out of the bathroom, she said, “You made bacon?!” Surely, it was the last thing she wanted to smell as she tried to settle her queasy pregnant belly, but always a memory for me whenever I cook bacon today.  She did all of this for me so that I could be with my grandmother.

Donatta and I had decided to take another trip to granny’s after Emily was born. Emily was just a couple months old at the time.  Granny was excited to meet baby Emily and we thought granny would get a kick out of meeting the little one who was inside Donatta’s belly, making her nauseous just several months before.

Donatta knew how eccentric my grandmother was and that she was in a world all her own at times.  I’m not sure if granny didn’t think about her actions or she just didn’t care what others thought. Such as, whenever granny would go to the bathroom at home, she would always pee with the bathroom door open, holding a conversation with you every tinkle of the way; something that I even catch myself doing to this day.  I don’t know why she never closed the door for privacy.  Perhaps, it’s the same reason why I leave the door open myself; comfortableness with the person you’re with.

As we settled in for the evening, Donatta prepared Emily for bedtime, hushing and lying her down in the portable crib that we brought with us. As if on cue, granny strolls to the bathroom to do her business, while leaving the door open the whole time.  Granny lived in a small apartment that consisted of only a living room, bedroom and a small kitchenette.  The bathroom was in direct contact with all three of these rooms, so no matter what room you were in, you were able to see and hold a conversation on with granny while she sat on the “pot” as she called it.  Sitting in the living room with a direct eyeshot of granny in the bathroom, Donatta listened to every squirt, plop, and splashdown that granny was creating, as well as every sound effect that granny chimed.  It was at this precise moment that Donatta spun her head around and looked at me, whispering underneath her breath, “Your grandmother is taking a major shit with the bathroom door open!” Giggling to myself, I shared with Donatta that granny must have felt very comfortable with her if she didn’t close the bathroom door, making it sound as if it was some sort of honor or privilege!  Once granny was done with her chat on the pot, she strolled back into the living room, into her chair, where she restfully took a nap.  I immediately went to the bathroom and tried to mask the smell, looking for the bathroom deodorizer.  Unfortunately for us, there wasn’t any.  The only thing I could find to spray down the bathroom with was granny’s FDS spray, which stood for Feminine Deodorant Spray. Now, we were sitting in a room that smelled like someone who took a crap in a baby power factory! To say the least, between granny’s dumps and chronic cough throughout the night that kept waking up baby Emily, it was an unforgettable visit!  Memories in the making.

Jack and Donatta Young

A couple years later, I went with Donatta and her parents to Cancun, Mexico, along with that precious little baby girl Emily.  To sit on the darkened beach by moonlight, drinking Tequila Spritzer shots with my best friend, who was constantly asking for “another” was a memorable vacation of a lifetime! We shared bread, we drank and we talked about our past, our present and our future.

Emily in Cancun

Emily in Cancun

Jack and Donatta in Cancun

Jack and Donatta in Cancun

Beachin' It!

Beachin’ It!

Donatta has not only been my best friend and angel, but she has been my nurturer. When being in the hospital from my motorcycle accident and unable to walk, she made sure that I was comfortable and content. While visiting me in the hospital, Donatta shaved my legs, which always makes a woman feel her best. She also made sure that my body was clean, helping me wash myself, when I hardly could not. In my eyes, this is a definition of love.

 “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”  ~John Leonard

Throughout the years, Donatta and I have shared many celebrations and experiences together, birthdays, holidays, graduations, weddings, births of our children and, sadly enough, many deaths. Donatta has always been there for me through the good times, as well as the bad, as I have her. She laughs, I laugh and when she cries, I cry. We have always had this underlying connection between us, that without trust and respect, a friendship would not be there. My wish for all is to experience a friendship like I have with Donatta.

There are times when I think of Donatta and I can’t help but to cry, not tears of sadness, but tears of joy and blessings. I think of Donatta through hearing a song, through a movie, and even through special thoughts. I’m blessed to have such a wonderful person in my life, someone who accepts me for who I am, even though I can be a little eccentric myself at times, with tattoos, piercings or even with my candid openness.  I love her to death because she accepts me for who I am.

“A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked.” ~Author Unknown

Donatta and I may not share the same opinions or agree on a certain subject matter, but we love and respect each other enough to accept each other’s beliefs, without shedding insult or disapproval.  Donatta is an honest, faithful and devoted friend and this is why she has been a part of my life for almost forty years.  We have experienced and shared a life time together and I am honored to be a part of her life.

“The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve had.”  ~Author Unknown

Jack and Donatta

When we met back in grade school in 1976, we always said we wanted to have our own commune together, living off the land, while our babies ran around naked. What a dream that would have been, huh? Although a vision of the past, it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about the future, where we would live side by side on the same block, sharing food from our gardens in which we had planted just the spring before.  As for having our babies run around naked… well, they have gotten too big for that now, however, it is my hope and sincere dream that we are able to sit in the yard as the sun sets low, sharing a bottle of wine together, while we watch not our children, but our beautiful grandchildren run around naked instead…

I love you my dear friend. Although, I am fourteen days older than you, I will always look up to you.  I wish you a wonderful birthday and look forward to the many more we share together.

Always,

Jack

 “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”  ~Henri Nouwen

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Give Up Hope

… Winding down my day at work, I had decided to do another internet search for my father’s name.  Every so often, I’d have the impulse in seeing if there was any new information listed, if there was a message for me.  Or, perhaps, it was just my way of keeping the thought of him real.  With granny gone, I was feeling melancholy.  I started thinking about the family members that I had lost.  One after another, they were all finally gone, including granny. She had been gone for over seven years and my heart missed her so much.

As I type my father’s name… C-h-a-r-l-e-s  R-a-y  L-a-m-b-e-r-t… I hit the search button, waiting for the usual results to appear on my screen, which time after time they were always the same. However, this time, they were different. This time, my search revealed news that would make this my last internet search for my father.  Because there, directly on the screen, was my fate staring right back at me. This was the day that I had learned my father had died, passing away on October 30, 2010.

Obituary - Charles Ray Lambert

Obituary – Charles Ray Lambert

Mr. Lambert was born on January 13, 1934 and passed away on Saturday, October 30, 2010. Mr. Lambert was a resident of Atlanta, Georgia at the time of his passing. Funeral services will be held November 2, 2010 at 11:00 AM from Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta with Rev. Rusty Couch officiating. Interment will follow in Rest Haven Garden of Memory in Decatur, GA.

Letting out a gasp that filled the office, my co-worker, Sheri, asked if I was okay.  I remember taking several moments to answer her, as I said, yes, I was fine, but I knew that I wasn’t. I felt as if I just had the wind knocked out of me. I sat there, watching the name on the screen before me, just knowing that it was him. I began to get emotional. I had never met my father and it was now apparent that I never would.  I started to tear up, as I knew that I would never ever have the opportunity to meet the man who was known as my birth father. I was actually saddened to learn of his passing. A rush of loneliness came over me, a sense of desertion. I always had in the back of my mind that even though I lost my grandparents, my uncle, my mother and, to some extent, even my brothers, I always felt that I still had a parent figure still alive. Even though I never met him, I had a bizarre comfort knowing that he was  always out there in the world, that I still had one elder family member left in my life. However, reading his obituary, made my feelings of comfort turn into a sense of emptiness. I know that I had Frank and his family, as well as my children in my life, but somehow it’s different.  I was longing for a connection with my side of the family, my own blood relatives.  Losing my father made everything that much more final, there was nobody left.

“I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.” ~ M.A.S.H.

Studying the date of my father’s death, October 30, 2010, it dawned on me that he had died on the evening of my annual Halloween party just months before. Believing in the spiritual world, I was trying to think back to see if I had noticed anything different that night, something odd, a sign of his presence, his soul perhaps. I wondered if his spirits stopped by to say good-bye. If so, did he leave this earth feeling comforted, content knowing that he had left his one and only descendant behind? He was only 76 years old.

I had made the decision that I was going to request his death certificate. I wanted to know… I needed to know more about his death and what he had died from.  It was not only for medical reasons, but for the curiosity of what secrets that I may find written within the words that lie on his death certificate.  I was actually hoping it would offer me some sort of additional information, clues, and answers.  Did he have other family members? Did he remarry? Did he have other children? Even something simple as what his race was, as my mother told me she never knew if he was German, Irish, Norwegian, which seemed rather odd to me. How can you be married to a man and not know what nationality he was?  Although I was sad about my father’s demise, it gave me new hope. Instead of searching for the man himself, I was now searching for the man he was, the man he use to be.

Going home that evening, with credit card in hand, I went onto the Georgia government website and requested Charles’ certificate of death. Going through the application process, I was asked every question imaginable.  It appeared that the Georgia government wanted to make sure that I said who I said I was. Showing me the questions, with multiple answers to chose from, they asked me questions, verifying old street address of places where I used to live back in my twenties, addresses that I long forgot about. They confirmed who we bought our current house from, how long have we lived there, etc.  I must have passed because within the next 10 days, I received my official certified copy of my father’s death certificate.

If I smoked, I would have had a cigarette, but I opted for a glass of wine instead. I sat down, holding the envelope from the Department of Health & Wellness in Atlanta, Georgia in my hand.  My family was all around me, as I held in front of me what could change my life. I told myself that this could be another beginning.  I was eager, with a hint of apprehension as to what information was inside, what I would learn.

I slowly sliced the envelope open with a butter knife as to not tear the paper inside. Sliding it out of the envelope, I unfold the death certificate and begin to read the words that are before me. Seeing his name on top of the report, I confirm that it’s my father by the date of his birth.

My eyes move down where the report stated that he had an 8th grade education or less, confirming what my family had always told me.  His occupation showed that he was an engineer in the automotive business, far more prestigious than a “spotter” at a laundry mat I thought.

My father had Leukemia Chronic Myelogenous, which is a cancer of the white blood cells, a cancer that I immediately looked up and, thankfully, family history is not a risk factor, meaning it isn’t hereditary. However, his immediate cause of death  was emphysema, one of the same diseases my mother had listed on her death certificate. Question number 35 on his death certificate: Tobacco use contributed to death? YES. It was now apparent that my father smoked and very heavily, too.  My father died at a hospice facility due to his lungs deteriorating from smoking for over 15 years. Time of death 11:30 p.m. My heart suddenly fell knowing that my father died in hospice. I was starting to hurt for a man that I never even knew. Did he have loved ones around him? Did he die alone? It was then that I began to pray to the Heavens above that he didn’t die alone, that someone was there with him, holding his hand as he went home to God.

“I say to people who care for people who are dying, if you really love that person and want to help them, be with them when their end comes close. Sit with them – you don’t even have to talk. You don’t have to do anything but really be there with them.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Question number nine – Marital Status. Never Married. A statement that I knew was absolutely and completely false.  I thought, was he portraying himself as a single man? If so, surely a secret of his own.

The report held a social security number. Ironically, the same exact number that I had submitted to the online search center 13 years earlier. The same number that I was told was inactive, due to incarceration or death. Obviously, my father worked, collecting a paycheck, having his social security number within the system.  Why was it that they couldn’t find any information on him?  Did they try hard enough, were they just taking my money? What would have happened if the search center did locate my father? Would it have been the most opportune time to reach him in my life? Was there a higher power intervening?

Looking to see what race was mentioned on the certificate, it stated that my father was white, not Hispanic, Spanish, or Latino. I surely thought, perhaps, because of my deep love for hot sauces, foods and peppers that he may have had some sort of Spanish bloodline in him. I guess I must have acquired my hot palate all on my own.

As I finished scrolling through the remainder of my father’s death certificate, trying to find some sort of relevant information that would open my father’s life to me, giving me some sort of answers, there, in box 14a, was a “friend” listed on his certificate. Scrolling my eyes over, I discover that this friend had a name. As I read her name, Trenna Robinson, residing in Waco, Georgia, I started to feel my heart pickup a few beats, wondering whom she was.  My heart pumped even faster when I realized that there was also an address listed for Trenna, offering me a rejuvenation of hope and, possibly, a new avenue to pursue to learn about my father and the man he once was.

Sharing this information with Frank, we had a million and one thoughts running through our minds. Playing every scenario, we tried to figure out how my father new this Trenna… Could this be a family member? Could she be  his daughter, even though she was listed as a friend? Could she be listed as a friend due to legal reasons? Was Trenna a girlfriend, a common law wife to my father? Farfetched, but I even thought she could be my sister. I decided to do a search for Trenna, wondering if I would be able to find out additional information. Searching online, I learned that she lived in a small town, population under 500 people. The town actually sounded quaint. According to searches, Trenna was approximately 42 years old. I also learned that she seemed to be married, ruling out that she could be my father’s significant other.  It also appeared that they had a roofing company. I rolled all this information around in my head. What was I going to do now? I knew in my heart that I had to move forward with this new information. I had to see if there was anything further I could learn. I was curious. I had to know who this Trenna Robinson aka “Friend” was. I made the decision to write Trenna a letter.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell

I started to place my thoughts onto paper, carefully selecting each word appropriately as to not shock or even offend. This would be one of the hardest things I would ever do is to write and mail this letter.  My thoughts were that I’m treading on ground that I have no right to tread, as I don’t know who these people are or what they are all about. I was in such fear that I would be disrupting their lives, which weren’t my intentions whatsoever.   All I knew, this was another opportunity, a second chance at discovering new information about Charles Ray Lambert. Besides, what do I have to lose, I thought… absolutely nothing!  It took me several weeks to prepare and mail my letter to Trenna and, once I did, it was all a waiting game…

 “Never forget that anticipation is an important part of life. Work’s important, family’s important, but without excitement, you have nothing. You’re cheating yourself if you refuse to enjoy what’s coming.” ~ Nicholas Sparks

May 17, 2011

Dear Ms. Robinson,

I know this letter may come as a surprise to you.  For that, I want to apologize for any intrusion, disruption or insensitivity that I may cause.  Sincerely, this is not my intention.  I’m not sure if you know about me or have even heard about me.  Please allow me to introduce myself and explain.  My name is Jackie Rae Morin (Lambert) and my father was Charles Ray Lambert.  It was recently that I had learned about my father’s passing.

My mother, Elvera Lee Lambert, and my father were married in 1960, and my mom was expected to give birth to me in 1962. Shortly before I was born, my parents decided to part ways, with my father moving from Wisconsin back home to live in Georgia. My mother shared with me that my father did know of me; that I was a girl, my name and where I lived, even him sending me a pair of baby pajamas when I was born. 

In the past, I have written my father a couple of times, in hopes to learn more about the man who shared my mother’s life. But, I’m not sure if my letters were ever received, as they were never returned to me. 

Recently, within the last month, I learned about my father’s passing via an internet search online.  On occasion, I would do internet searches with his name, hoping to find any information on the internet about him.  I’m not sure what I was always expecting to find, but the usual search would come up, which was his name and where he lived in Georgia. Regrettably, my last search left me somewhat saddened and shocked when I learned of his passing last October, 2010.  I tried doing additional searches for other family members, but did not have any success.  Therefore, not knowing how he had passed and, for medical reasons, I requested a copy of his death certificate from the state of Georgia and this is where I came across your name and address.  

Please, let me express again that my intention with this letter is not to upset anyone, but merely a means of wanting to know more about the man who gave me life; what type of man he was, whether good or bad.   Did he have a sense of humor, was he a happy person, was he artistic, did he have a happy life, etc.  I no longer have any elder family members left; everyone has passed on.  Learning about my father’s passing finalized that.

To share something about myself, I’ve been married for 21 years to my husband, Frank, and we have two beautiful children, Arlaraye and Tanner. I lived mostly in Illinois, but did live with my grandparents in Wisconsin when I was young.  I feel very fortunate to have what I have in my life today, although parts of my childhood life were quite challenging.  When living with my mother, it wasn’t a very pleasant upbringing but I have learned to find the positive out of every situation.  What I went through growing up has only made me stronger today. Knowing this, I realize how important family really is.  When my family was alive, I tried in every way to learn about my father, but rarely received any information.

One of the hardest things I’m going to do now is mail this letter and, if you are willing, I would love to hear from you and, possibly, learn about the man I never knew, whether pleasant or not.   I have listed my correspondence information below, in hopes that you will write or email me.  Also, I will be more than willing to answer any questions that you may have, as I’m sure my correspondence to you may have been somewhat of a surprise.  

I want to thank you very much for your time and reading my letter and pray that it has not been a disruption to you or your family.

Yours Sincerely,

Jackie Morin

 

 

Bubby… Our Life, Our World

Bub·by: (n) \’bə-bē\  בובי  Yiddish – is a German-based Jewish dialect.  Bubby is an endearing Yiddish term for grandmother. A sweet name for the one you love, the one you adore, your Bubster, your Bubinator… your Boo! Hair worn short … Continue reading

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.

Whisper to my Heart

Watercolor by JackAugust 2012

Watercolor by Jack
August 2012

“What do you think of God,” the teacher asked. After a pause, the young pupil replied, “He’s not a think, he’s a feel.” ~Paul Frost

My brothers and I were brought up to have no religion in our lives whatsoever. Melvin was an atheist. My mother was baptized and confirmed Lutheran, but she made no conscious effort to promote and bring God into our home and lives. We couldn’t tell you the first thing about God, his miracles, or how to even pray.

Having married a man that was Catholic and, practically having his whole family being catholic, not to mention his older brother, Joey, being a catholic priest, I knew that when we had children, we would raise them catholic as well. It was almost a prerequisite when I married into the family. I was never baptized myself and, therefore, had no religious denomination whatsoever.

Soon after my daughter, Arlaraye, was born, we had her baptized at the church where Joey was Pastor, St. Alphonsus church in Chicago, the same church that Frank and I were married at. Standing there in church was one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve been in. I felt total awkwardness, as Joey and everyone chanted their routine prayers and blessings around me. I found my mind drifting away; wondering when mass was going to be over, wondering when I would be able to leave. I felt idiotically embarrassed standing there watching my family say prayers, watching their mouths move in unison, making the same motion when doing the sign of the cross, moving up and down, sitting, kneeling, standing. I listened as everyone would speak in harmony, praying, why I said absolutely nothing, except for one word, which was amen. That was the only word I knew because it meant that all those amens were eventually one step closer to the door, one step closer to getting out of church and going home. I was uncomfortable being in church. I was never in a church growing up. I felt embarrassed, almost displaced, as if people knew that I was illiterate when it came to the subject of religion.

Four years later, I gave birth to my son, Tanner, where I also had him baptized by Joey, once again, going through the exact same uneasy emotions all over again. I was happy that I had my children baptized and did know the importance of doing so, but when looking at both of my children’s baptism pictures, I could see the dumbfounded look on my face, where I looked completely lost!

Sometimes, I felt that there was a God above me, even acknowledging now and then, but never really gave it too much thought throughout my younger life. I recognized that God created us, the animals, flowers and, on occasion, would perform a miracle. I don’t want to say that I took God for granted in what He was capable of doing, but let’s just say that I didn’t seem to notice Him as much. I wasn’t use to having a God in my life, praying, asking for help or guidance. I never prayed for others or even myself. My mom never shared religion with me. He was never mentioned in our home. I blame my mother for this. For someone who went through the sacraments herself, I would think that she would want to share such an experience with her children. Possibly, if religion and God were a part of my life growing up, if I had learned how much God truly loved me, and that He would have been there for me when called upon, I would have knocked on his door much sooner, asking for help.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

As I got older and into my late thirties, this is when I started realizing that there was something significantly missing in my life, which I wanted and, more importantly, needed. I realized that I felt left out from one of the most important relationships that a human being could ever have. And that was a relationship with one’s God. There was an absence in my heart; a feeling of vacancy, and I knew that it had the capability of embracing so much more love than what it was already holding. Every day, I found myself staring up toward the sky, memorized by the beauty of the blue skies and clouds that drifted by me, as if they were in a small town parade floating curbside as they waved hello to the crowds. I felt tranquility as I watched the lady in the moon smiling back at me. I found beauty in a rainbow, as it touched from one end of the sky to the other, while the rain softly danced against the radiant rays of sunshine. I watched the sun as it set itself for another evening, as it slightly peeked through the crimson clouds, making its journey into night’s rest. The shades of pinks, blues and grays that illuminated from the sky were as if God, Himself, had just painted another beautiful masterpiece. This was such a surreal moment for me that it left me weeping tears every single time I witnessed His miracles.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

I started seeing the beauty in a flower, their smell, their color, the radiance that it extended and I was starting to realize that God, Himself can be the only one responsible for creating such exquisite wonders. It was like I had an awakening. I knew deep within my heart that I wanted to be a part of His world, to be a part of His heaven once my time on earth was done. If I was finding such beauty in the world that I was living, I could only dream how beautiful God’s world was.

“People see God every day, they just don’t recognize him.” ~Pearl Bailey

I started noticing all the miracles that God laid before me. I was even starting to get little signs, as I asked for his guidance and strength. It was at that moment that I made the decision to become a Catholic, to be baptized in Jesus’ name. I shared my feelings with Frank that I wanted to be baptized and do whatever I had to do in order to be welcomed into God’s world, to be a part of His world and my family who has since went home to Him. Frank, as well as his family, was happy that I had made such an important decision and supported me. I learned that I would have to attend RCIA (Rite of Christina Initiation of Adults) classes and that I would have to go twice a week, traveling to two different churches for over a year. I was up for the commitment and, to make it all that more special, Frank came to class with me, sharing in my experience. We didn’t miss one class or one mass throughout the time we were going. I was in a class of approximately six catechumens and we all shared the same passion. Father Dario, who was Pastor of St. Priscilla’s Church, led all the discussion groups on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Father Dario always had a way of making religious education interesting and exciting. We went to church every Sunday and, after the Gospel, I and the other catechumens were dismissed so that we could discuss what we just learned or how it made us feel. Andy, who was a very soft spoken and dedicated gentleman to his faith, led our group into discussion. There was never any right or wrong answers in our discussions, nor were there any pop quizzes. Simply, it was a conversation between others who shared the same passion and faith as I did.

As I was preparing for my sacraments, my mother had voiced her opinion on me becoming a catholic. Again, my mother was brought up Lutheran, but never practiced her religion. She knew that I was taking this avenue to become a catholic and it bothered her every step of the way. Finally, she had asked me why I was becoming a catholic, as I wasn’t one to begin with. I shared with her that I wasn’t anything from the beginning anyway thanks to her and, if it was that important to her, then she should have done something about it when I was born. Otherwise, she has no say in the situation. That was the last I ever heard of that topic from my mother.

Sacrament Day!March 2000

Sacrament Day!
March 2000

In March of 2000, I went through all the sacraments of initiation; Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. Although truly a special event in my life, I thought it would be even more special if Joey would do the honors of baptizing me. He married Frank and me, he baptized my two children and I thought it would be lovely if he baptized me as well. We had it approved by the church and Joey was given permission to share in this special day along with me. But, unbeknownst to me, Joey, Bubby and Frank’s other brother, Patrick, were in on a little secret and had made plans in the car while on the way over to the church; plans that obviously involved me. As I stood on the altar, bending over the baptismal font, I waited for Joey to bless me with holy water. I couldn’t help noticing that Joey was grinning from ear to ear, as he was about to make sure that I was completely blessed myself… from ear to ear. Joey proceeded to pour a FULL pitcher of Holy Water all over my entire head, drenching me, making sure that I was completely cleansed and washed away of all sins. Sopping wet and hair now completely a mess, I knew that I had just made one of the most important decisions of my entire life.

Today, I realized that I missed out on so many things when I was young, with religion being one of them. Being young, I realized that some kids aren’t jumping at the idea of attending church and sitting in a pew for an hour, but it would have been nice to at least have had some form of religion while growing up; to have had something to believe in. I was never told about God or that God loved me, nor was I ever shown how to pray. Thinking back, if I had known how to talk to God and pray, perhaps, my torment with Melvin would have been a lot easier to deal with. I would have asked God to help me, to be my strength. Knowing the relationship that I have with my God today, I know He would have been my strength, coming to me as my saving grace, answering my every prayer.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

I cannot walk into a church today without becoming so emotionally affected. To see God suspending there before me, it has always left me in tears, with complete thankfulness for the sacrifices that He had made for me. At times, I surprise myself how I feel when I think of God and his many blessings. For someone who never had one ounce of religion in their life as a child, I find myself such an emotional and spiritual person today. I see God’s touch everywhere. There isn’t one thing that I can’t look at that I don’t see where God created something beautiful, directly touching it Himself. I see Him in every perfect flower that shares a bloom and every cloud that floats in the blue sky above me, while butterflies dance in the air.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

He’s in the face of every laughing child or deep within the wrinkles of a wise elderly person’s face. He’s in the wheelchair of every handicapped child, as well as in the spirit of every mentally challenged man or woman. I see God within each glowing sunset that closes out my day. But, most importantly, when I look in the mirror or look deep into the eyes of my children, I see God, He is there.

Photo by Jack

Photo by Jack

My God loves all people. He holds no discrimination in his heart. He loves whether a person is white or if they are black, if they wear a hijab or honor the Star of David. My God doesn’t judge if a man is straight or if a woman is gay confessing her love to her wife. Surely, if my God can love unconditionally, can’t we all?

I smile to myself ever so lightly when I see His wonders; His beauty that He leaves before me time and time again, never once being disappointed. I try not to cry but, at times, I just can’t hold back my tears, as I see the perfect sunrise kissing me good morning or hearing a bird’s song filling the air. I was once told that my feelings were the spirits talking to me, whispering directly to my heart. The thought that my God can create such beauty, even if it makes me cry, is a feeling beyond belief for which I am truly thankful.

Watercolor by JackAugust 2012

Watercolor by Jack
August 2012

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting — a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It Came to me in a Dream…

“Pay attention to your dreams – God’s angels often speak directly to our hearts when we are asleep.”  ~ Eileen Elias Freeman The date was set. May 5, 1990. Less than a year later, this was the day that Frank … Continue reading