My third encounter was something I never would have expected. It also was the most frightening. There is something to be said about the phrase; seeing is believing, but when it is not something you can see, well….
A few months after telling my father I was pregnant, he passed away. It was not something that no one was expecting. Why he managed to live as long as he did was beyond everyone. He had been very ill all my growing years. When I was five years of age he had open heart surgery. The doctors had to remove his dieased pericardium. I remember one of my relatives telling us how we had to be very good and say our prayers every night, because he may not live through the surgery. It was a terrible blow to a kid, having to suffer the fear of losing a parent, never mind being told at such a tender age.
So my father managed to live thirteen years after surgery. But during those years he would go back and forth to the hospital on a regular basis. Each time he went, brought more anxiety. How I never ended up on prozac or some type of anti anxiety medication, I will never know. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be on any, it just means I manage it, without the drugs.
Because of his illness, we never invited school friends home. Nor did we purposely disobey. Although as we got older, we did figure out ways to avoid him. I remember before he was sick, how funny he could be. But along with his illness came a personality that I vowed to never inherit.
I was seven months pregnant when he died. I was with him right through the bittersweet end. I held his hand for the last time as he quietly slipped into a medically induced coma. I cried then, but I did not cry after. I remember feeling a great relief in his passing. Too many long years of anxiety, verbal abuse, and fear suddennly gone. As much as I was relieved by the knowledge, I was more relieved that my father no longer had to suffer his illness. Maybe, just maybe, my family would recover and find some kind of normalcy in his passing.
The last time I saw my father, was at the funeral home. I remember placing my hand over his, and whispering I Love You. I also placed a long stem single blue and white rose in his casket. The blue rose represented the unborn grandson he would never know, and the white rose represented purity. There was not a dry eye in the house, accept for mine. I guess I had been preparing for this all my life.
After he passed I had recurring dreams of him that lasted three years.
The first and most often visited, involved my father outside a house, and me trying to call out to him. As the dream progressed the house bacame a tenement, and each time I saw my father he would slip away. Eventually, as the house grew it added a spiral staircase to each story, wrapping itself around the house, and everytime I got close enough for him to see me, he would get further out of reach.
I suppose it was pretty easy to figure out the first recurring dream, the need to see my father, but unless I wished to follow him, I was never going to reach him. And I suppose if I did, he would have come to greet me instead of turning the corner.
My first child was now a toddler of three, and had a new infant brother. This is when the dreams of my father became truly bizzare. From acsending stairways, to magical trees and babies being kidnapped from their cribs. I had to wonder.. the kidnapping dream must have been dreampt out of parental responsabilities, but why my father appeared in it, was odd. Like a terrible gangster movie, with tommy guns, and my father fighting them off. Then the dream would morph into exotic trees with dancing ravens. As the ravens hopped about the limbs, they would somersault to the ground and turn into little chinese men. Each one with a different brightly clothed costume. Each one trying to tell me of something of great importance, imparting some kind of wisdom. But everytime I awoke, I could never remember what they told me.
After months of the morphed dreams, I had just finished feeding the babies and left them in the parlor while I busied myself in the kitchen. With hands plunged into water doing dishes, the phone rang. I looked in on the children as I picked up the receiver, the baby now sleeping in his swing, my toddler son watching a video tape. Everything was peaceful….until that call.
There was no one on the other end. I said hello three times and was about to hang up when at last I heard a voice. From far out in the distance, very far, it was my father.
There is more to the story, and of the things that happened during that call. Though I cannot write them down. To do so would conjure up thoughts that my Aunt Lena was right. Perhaps I should have seen a doctor, but I was not then, nor am I now..Crazy.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I can say, I have not been visited by ghosts since. Although I will admit to acknowledging a certain presence when I write.
© Jackie Summers – 2012