Today is the one year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
It is also the anniversary of my Daddy’s death.
My last post ended with my doorbell ringing. There wasn’t anyone there when I answered, and oddly enough, I was not at all surprised.
Ever since my father passed away, little weird things have been happening – some of them triggering sheer panic in my daughters who have developed an irrational fear of the bathroom- they claim to hear weird voices in there.
Thinking back on it, I realize it – the weird things – began the day he died.
My mother and I sat by his side – I don’t even know if he realized his little princess was there or not. I’d like to think he did. His blue eyes were closed most of the time now as he slept, and every once in a while he would moan a moan you would expect to hear in a haunted house, his blue eyes staring out into space.
Sitting in the rigid hospital chairs, my mother and I watched in horror at the catastrophe unfolding before our eyes as the earth shuddered and the ocean throbbed, our necks stiff from staring up at the TV – yet we dared not look away. As the number of the those who died kept rising, I thought about the long lines at the pearly gates.
Family came and went throughout the evening, nurses and doctors, too. Finally, it was late, and Dad was sleeping. I was urged to go out with some friends and blow off some steam – celebrate my birthday…and just relax after all the pain we had been enduring for the past several months tending to my sick father.
I always kissed my father’s forehead before I left. This time, my cousin, a nurse, convinced me that the H1N1 was rampant in the hospital ward where he was, and to protect my five daughters, I should not touch, let alone kiss, him.
It was the only time I did not kiss him goodbye. The only time that really mattered.
As I drove to the restaurant, the song “Windmills of My Mind” came on in the car. It’s a pretty obscure song and the only song I had ever perfected on the piano and it was at least three decades since I had last heard it.
I had a great time at the restaurant that night with two of my closest friends. I went home a little less stressed, more at ease, and recharged to again be by my father’s side.
But there was no reason to recharge.
The next morning, Mom called to tell me that Dad has passed away soon after I had left. I again thought of that long line at the pearly gates.
In the car to pick up my mom to go to the funeral home, I was still in shock.
My daddy had been larger than life – a senior architectural draftsman, gifted pianist, adventurous pilot, acclaimed historian and writer – my Daddy – was now gone.
Out loud, I asked, “So Daddy? What’s it like up there?” and at that precise moment, Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” came on.
There is no way my father EVER would have listened to that song – I’m 100% positive my father never even heard the song in his life. He was strictly into classical music.
As I listened to the song over and over later that day in the quiet of my home, after we had made all the arrangements, I was stunned how relevant each and every line was to his life, and I took comfort in his parting message.
Since that day, I’ve seen lights bouncing around my studio as I work in the quiet of the night, they seem to whip around my walls. And when I can’t find something and happen to ask my Dad for help – I always seem to know where to look.
Pennies are my Mom’s little sign from my Dad. She finds them in odd little places when she asks for a sign that he’s still with her. After almost 45 years of having a beautiful life together, it’s a tremendous comfort to her.
“Mommy? Do you think Grandpa’s ghost will follow us to Myrtle beach?” Daughter #3, the eight year old, asks me, “cause I think that would really be fun,” she gave me a hug and ran outside to enjoy the unbelievably warm March weather with her sisters.
I certainly hope he will come with us, because our beautiful lives are in full bloom and I want him to be a part of it and share in all our joys and adventures. I welcome all his little signs and I hope that as time goes on, we will learn to pick up on more of his presence and presents from heaven.
So, to all the souls who passed through the pearly gates on this date last year, I pray for you all with all my heart.
And to my Daddy – thank you so much for you have done for me and for all the things you taught me and for helping Mom make me into the woman I am today.
I love you Daddy.