How My Dad Reached Out From The Other Side
I lost my Dad when I was in my early twenties. He was only 50 years old when he died of a massive heart attack. I was devastated. He would never walk me down the aisle, never hold his grandchildren. I would never, ever see him again. A huge void yawned before me.
Death had swallowed my father.
But out there in snowy Ohio, I knew a psychic. A little old man who looked like Mahatma Gandhi and lived in a tar paper shack in Urbana. Warren had read the poodle-back deck of playing cards when I was on my way to England to study theater some years before. He was right on so many accounts. Even my great grandfather from New Hampshire came through and talked to me. Warren had a pipeline to the Other Side. Now my father was suddenly gone and I needed to reach him, to cry, “Daddy, where did you go?”
In the middle of a snowstorm, I found Warren’s tar paper shack and knocked on the door. He was not surprised to see me. “Your father’s passed on.” I nodded. He waved a thin arm, directing me to his formica-topped kitchen table where the poodle cards were piled, waiting.
As I shuffled the deck, thinking of my loss, Warren spoke up. “He wants you to know he’s with Harold. And he’s sorry he didn’t buy more life insurance; he didn’t believe in it.”
When I asked Warren to ask my father why he didn’t take better care of himself, Daddy told Warren that he thought he looked pretty snappy there at the end. (And he did. He was working Christmas break at a sportswear store.) But the wonderful Coach Fred Myers that we all loved had a bad ticker. With his first heart attack at 40 and as he neared 50, chewing nitroglycerin like aspirin, it was both untimely and logical that he would depart this earthly plane.
Nothing could have saved him except a heart transplant. Maybe. Cold comfort to know he was doomed. Then Daddy told Warren to tell me, to advise my mother to fall in love and marry again. “Don’t be lonely.” I filed that advice for a much later communication with my grieving mother. He told me things I never knew; I had no idea he loved to read books about psychics. But Fred Myers was a renowned soccer and lacrosse coach at Ohio Wesleyan University, a mentor and substitute father to his players. He kept that mystical solitary late night reading of Edgar Cayce to himself. But now, from the after-life, he was coming clean. How I wished I’d known!
My father responded, “So, now you do know, what are you going to do?”
I drove home slowly, wondering how this extraordinary encounter was going to sit with the rest of my family.
Back in Delaware, Ohio, at our split level, I found the inner circle of parents and sisters and brothers and adult children, who’d jumped on planes or driven at a blistering speed that terrible day through blizzards to get to my mother. Now they were parked around the living room table, quietly looking at photos of my father. All the liquor was within easy reach. Like, the middle of the table. I poured a drink and asked, “Did Daddy have a Harold in his life?” Mom murmured that Harold was my father’s WWII running buddy, who died a couple years back.
“Well, I went to see a psychic and Daddy’s with him. He’s with Harold.”
This news from the Other Side was disconcerting to some, but my grandmother Lavina was all in. She piped up, “Oh, I know Rick’s right here. Right now. He’s watching. She repeated that later, when she saw our cat Pansy curled up in my father’s chair. Just the night before, just like always, my father Daddy had put his feet up on the ottoman to watch TV. I’d never again lie on the sofa next to his chair and watch sports just to be in his presence.
Because of Warren, there was hope. I believed, I felt my dad was there, through Warren and the poodle cards. But I didn’t have the secret code granting me access to the Beyond. I returned to my life in New York City carrying a boatload of grief. I saw my dad everywhere.
I was desperate not to lose that ethereal thread to my father. I found another psychic - the legendary Suzanne Northrup - who said, “Oh, your Dad’s here, oh, he’s wearing his officer’s uniform. Oh! He’s so handsome!” She smiled at the inner sight. What followed was another mind-blowing dialogue. My dad told me he was so glad I had his matchbox. (It was true, I carried his antique silver matchbox, where he stashed his nitro pills in cotton.) We talked more about my mom, and his desire to see her happy. He was glad I was about to marry, but there were some reservations.
I carried that reassuring experience for some time, then it just fell away. Likely because I got married, had a child, and divorced. There wasn’t time or money for any of That Stuff.
Then I heard what was going on back in Ohio.
Dan, the sturdy Harley-riding retiree who’d moved in with his blonde wife, was reporting all kinds of disturbances around our house - our red split level on Marion Court.
Dan was inspired to take up woodworking and carpentry, since our garage was all tricked out with workbenches and tool holders from the Fred years. One night early on, he went to bed with his tools spread in disarray, and the next morning he found them all lined up and squared away where they belonged. “If you use it, put it back where it belongs,” my father would say…
Thus began an out-of-this world, life-changing, and life-saving relationship.
Dan told us that he felt an energy come through him as he worked in the garage. Dan began to build things he really didn’t know how to build: an above-ground pool, a back deck, exterior stairs. All the projects my Dad had left undone.
Sometimes Dan smelled cigar smoke waft over him, and there wasn’t anyone nearby.
One day, Dan was fixing the ceiling tiles in our kitchen. He’d placed a jar lid holding the screws he needed on the dining table. Three times, when his back was turned, the lid would skiddle over and fall off the table. Dan picked up the screws for the last time and put the jar top smack in the middle of the table. He took a seat, to calm his nerves. Moments later, the door from the house to the garage, opened and shut.
Uh huh. Here’s another one:
One night, when Dan and his family were sitting at dinner, they heard sounds coming from the spare bedroom they used for the visiting grandchildren. (My dad used to nap there.) When they went upstairs and opened the door, they saw a couple of the toy cars, remote-controlled, zooming in circles around on the floor. The cars immediately rolled up to the door and stopped.
Not made up: When my mother sold the house, all the furniture went with her to Florida. One night Dan’s wife found a small white envelope taped to the back of a drawer in her own bedroom chest of drawers. On the front of the envelope was written, “Sylvia” - my mother’s name.
Inside, was a dime store wedding ring.
Over the years, all these sorts of disturbances became part of life on Marion Court. Dan and his wife were very welcoming when my mother and two brothers visited, and took them all around the house to show off his carpentry work. He shared about our dad and all his mischief - all the stories above and some more. My eldest brother was having the hardest time accepting that it was real. But as they were walking out of the house, the carbon monoxide alarm starting screaming. Nothing had changed in the environment to set it off. Our dad was just letting Chikk know it wasn’t bullshit.
Just a few years later that carbon monoxide alarm would help save Dan’s life.
On a cold, snowy December day, Dan was up on the roof, struggling to put up the Christmas lights. He’d just lost his eldest son to a brain tumor. Up on the roof, Dan thought about his son who died, and was overcome with rage. He stood and shook his fist at the heavens and yelled, “My son should be here with me!” Moments later, as Dan started to climb down from the roof, the ladder fell away, and he plunged to the patio some 10 feet below. There he lay on the concrete, half his body broken from the fall, in the cold, with the dog inside, and his wife at work.
His neighbor Jack (who had tried unsuccessfully to revive my father, on that terrible snowy day) was at that moment sitting in his house across the street. He’d slept in, because the night before, he’d been awakened - more than once - by the scream of his carbon monoxide alarm going off, for no reason. Suddenly it occurred to Jack to go over to Dan’s and see what he was doing. Jack walked over and knocked on the door. There was no response; just the dog barking. Then, for some reason, it occurred to Jack to go around to the back and look over the fence. There he saw Dan and called 911. Dan was rushed to the hospital. His injuries were so severe, that there were two seven-hour surgeries required to piece him together.
During the second surgery, Dan told me that he felt himself whooshing out of his body, and heading for a bright white light. As he moved to the light, he saw his deceased parents and his beloved son, greeting him. When Dan looked up, he saw a magnificent light, and a form in a doorway, and he heard the words, “Believe in me, and you will have everlasting life.” Immediately, Dan was whooshed back into his body.
In the hospital room, his family was overjoyed to see that Dan was stirring, that he was in fact waking up. Dan came to, and kept exclaiming, “He’s here. He’s right here.” Dan was seeing his son who had passed, sitting in the corner. In an effort to calm Dan, one of his family asked, “Dad, what does he want? Why is he here?”
Dan replied, “He wants you to know that I’m going to be okay.”
Then his son’s form vanished. Dan was a changed man after that. I’m vouching for this because I saw the look in his eyes, I felt the grace he had experienced.
I want to close with one of my own experiences with my father’s spirit.
One Sunday morning, my husband (also a Dan), was sitting at our kitchen table in our bungalow in West Los Angeles, reading the Sunday Times sports section. I was making breakfast. Suddenly I felt an overpowering urge to fetch the small camphor wood box that had once belonged to my Dad. It held my letters from my father when I was studying abroad, and newspaper clippings I’d saved from my father’s storied career as a soccer coach at Ohio Wesleyan University.
One by one, I pulled out the yellowed articles and showed them to my Dan and bragged nonstop about my father’s accomplishments: Ohio College soccer coach of the year (twice), his teams NCAA small college division victories, where they nearly won the national title… on and on I went, not knowing why I was suddenly bringing all this up. Dan listened patiently and nodded, and let me do my monologue. I wrapped it up, feeling a little foolish.
As I was placing the wood box back in the bedroom, he called out, “Honey, look at this!”
I ran in and Dan pointed to a small UP article on the sports page. My father’s soccer team, now coached by his protege Jay Martin, had just won the national NCAA Division III title, on the field where my father had coached at Ohio Wesleyan.
For 25 years, my father went after that title, and occasionally came very close. On the way there, he built a nationally-ranked soccer program. It took thirty years more, to clinch the championship.
Daddy was showing me something I needed to know. Our victories will come, if we never give up. It’s always too late to quit.
I just want to close this with my wish that any of you who have lost someone they love might consider the possibility that you can find that spirit looking over and protecting you… on the Other Side.
Please share with anyone who has suffered loss and is at loose ends.
Love never dies, and neither does our connection to that loved one.
Onward with faith,
April 24, 2021
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