Since my dad's death, I've had more than one instance of what I think are communications from him. These have almost invariably occurred while I was asleep, though not always. None of these communications were things that I'd sought and I had no hand in the control of their content or when they occurred. I'd previously had such experiences with my late brother Tim, who died in 1995. Theyd been an inspiration to me, then. In light of more recent events involving my dad, they became a source of reassurance and of answers.
From the time I was a teenager and throughout my twenties and thirties, I was a religious skeptic, but an unhappy one. I had virtually become an atheist as a teen, having read a number of skeptical tracts and novels such as Elmer Gantry and various scientific tracts that argued against traditional religious explanations of various phenomena in science and history. In my twenties, I'd learned of The Passover Plot and had studied it in my first round of college studies. Then, in my thirties, as part of my outside reading, I'd read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a book which builds on the themes of The Passover Plot and comes to the conclusion that Jesus may have sired children and been much more human than we may have previously thought. The evidence in both of these books was powerful if not overwhelming, and my religious skepticism was strengthened.
Yet I have also always been a religious seeker. In my earlier years, I had become deeply interested in philosophical and theological issues. I felt a need, as a youth, to try to come to some "understanding" within myself as to how I felt about the idea of God and religion or a religious perspective on the world. But I continued to find myself the doubter, always ending up doubting the religious interpretation of events. There seemed to be no spiritual dimension to life at all, much of the time. I hungered for this dimension, however, and continued to seek after it, even when all seemed lost and no strong arguments could be produced.
There were times, too, when such doubt seemed overwhelming and I became filled with bitterness. Life seemed empty and cruel, and the earth was full of suffering, so much needless or pointless-seeming suffering.
Dad was a man of faith. I'd never been a person with any strong faith, on the other hand. He and I often exchanged words until he came to understand that I was sincerely grappling with spiritual issues and was trying to find answers. Yet it is also true that I became bitter at times and questioned Dad's religious faith openly. These were the times when Dad would become upset with me and attempt to show me that he was a clear thinker, capable of clearer thinking than I was doing. I think now that this was one of the motives of his grilling me about math homework when I'd ask him for help. Our interaction at those times was most unpleasant for me, after awhile, as Dad would frequently point out, when I'd make a math error that "You're not thinking clearly again--see there."
In the context of other things Dad said to me about religion and God, I can now see that he was referring to our conversations about spiritual and theological issues. He was attempting to help me see that my own limitations might be the reason why I couldn't readily believe in God, not the inadequacies of the empirical arguments for God or the inadequacies of God per se. But at the time, in my youth, I didn't take it in quite that way, using it instead to add to my bitterness about the world and to become even bitter with my father for this questioning of my abilities.
a time, I came to feel that perhaps it would be better for me to read
about the religions of other cultures. I also examined the newly
rising literature about "phenomena" that has gradually led
to the New Age market. Perhaps the reader will recall such books as I
am referring to--those paperbacks that came out in the early sixties
by authors such as Frank Edwards and Brad Steiger.
The television programs known as One Step Beyond was a source of real uneasiness for me. I was fascinated by the phenomena they presented, yet, as a ten- and eleven-year-old, was reluctant to watch: it gave me nightmares.
My oldest sister Suzy was, therefore, frequently my source for information about what occurred on One Step Beyond. Indeed, Suzy was always my inspiration for much of the broadening of my philosophical and spiritual horizons, from the time I was small, Although Suzy first taught me to question organized religion, asking such intriguing things as "Who was Cain's wife?" she was also one who taught me to look into other religious perspectives such as those of the Buddhists and the other cultures, such as Native Americans. Her husband, Jay, is Native American and seems to have a psychic or spiritual side to him.
Go to Encountering Sue in Tim, George Bush and Me: Part I: Tim and Me
Gaunt Hospital Days
Those last weeks in the hospital went by with incredible speed. Even now, they seem like a dream. Dad's face, once tan and leathery, was pale and gaunt. His beautiful white hair, which had been white for far too long, was more silver than I'd ever seen it. His eyes, which had always had that Irish sparkle in their deep blue and unimaginably sensitive sheen, now seemed tired beyond imagining. When he looked at me, I saw goodbye in his eyes, even as he spoke to me about other things. He was always so anxious to take care of others, even as he lay there dying. He always insisted that we eat, that we rest, that we not deprive ourselves of sleep . . .
My years of seeking answers often prompted me to bitterness and despair as my prayers were never answered, asked on some key point as a kind of scientific investigation of whether prayers got answered. Even when I tried to follow some spiritual prescription such as forgiveness or doing for others, I found myself only taken advantage of by unscrupulous persons. And the scientific evidence continued to mount against any traditional religious perspective. Historical evidence, too, continued to paint many previously considered great religious endeavors in an increasingly unfavorable light. It became clear that the Bible had been cynically rewritten several times, for example.
At the same time, I did read about those phenomena. There seemed to be something going on, something that wasn't being taught by traditional religion but which suggested some spiritual side of things, nonetheless, and entirely independent of, even in defiance of, those religious teachings. Precognitive dreams, various types of extrasensory experiences, strange and unlikely groups of coincidences, and the occasional out-of-body experience seemed to be to reveal...something...yet it was never clear exactly what.
Nor could anyone control when these things occurred. Women who initially experienced a psychic phenomenon would sometimes try to get a handle on it, and be able to repeat it. The most famous of these was Jeanne Dixon. Having had a group of uncannily accurate predictive experiences, she resolved to try to control such things and anticipate them. But she did not succeed in doing so. Whatever these phenomena are, it is quite clear that they cannot be anticipated or controlled. They are spontaneous and they happen in circumstances not under our control.
And there are plenty of skeptics. Because of the often subjective nature of such experiences, only detailed events can sometimes be convincing. And the only experiences that really seem to survive to any extent are the direct ones, in which only one person and perhaps a deceased loved one, are involved. There are no instances of prayers answered, of miracles producing healing, that cannot be questioned on scientific grounds. The only data that have ever emerged have been that individual human beings sometimes seem to experience higher realms or communication from dead loved ones, totally spontaneously and perhaps only once in their entire lives. At these times, information is communicated to them that isn't readily explainable as to its source.
I had been struggling with this back and forth debate about the possible existence of God and the merit of religion and was coming up empty-handed and somewhat bitter about the world. The emptiness and pain I saw ever more around me seemed to be the only reality. Whatever God there was seemed indifferent, cold and irrelevant to our everyday lives.
When my late brother died, I had the first of a series of communications from him that are totally subjective in nature and have produced only small bits of data that suggest to me that they were genuine. Even though the information conveyed seems relatively innocuous to an outsider, for me these were powerful experiences that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to me that there is another side, life beyond death. While I occasionally feel a sense of mourning for both my dad and my brother, what I usually am experiencing at those times is not so much a sense of loss of them, given these experiences I've had, but rather the many things of life that have gone by the by in the intervening years. In other words, my sadness is more about the aging process and the passage of the years and the disappearance of things that had seemed to be so stable in life. Change is the only constant, seems to be a truism and it is that which I am mourning now, not their deaths.
That's because I don't believe they have died in the absolute sense. Their personalities have, in the words of William James "survived bodily death."
In the days immediately following my late father's death, I had a number of experiences similar in nature to those I'd had shortly after my brother died. He came to me and hugged me and introduced me to persons who may have been deceased loved ones such as my grandmother at a much younger age than I'd ever seen her.
It was some months before I received what may have been my final message from my dad. Again, as in every other instance, I had no control over the situation, didn't anticipate it and couldn't sit down and bring it on again if I tried. I couldn't duplicate it. There is no "scientific" experiment one could do to verify such an experience. Yet it is very real, and this is something that isn't easy for me to say, given my long years in seeking to filter everything through a scientific or historical lens.
A Cold, Cold Day
To understand the depth of my dream experience, which I believe now was a communication from my dad after he died, it's important that I describe an event that happened in Dad's life a couple of years before I was born. That event was the day of the birth and death of my mother's second baby, who was named Little Bill
Little Bill would have been my older brother. He was born between Suzy and me, on February 9, 1948, an intensely cold, windy and snowy day in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Little Bill, named after my dad, Bill Standridge, died within hours of his birth.
My mother has only bits and pieces of recollection of the first several hours of the day of his death. She was in pain and totally exhausted, lapsing in and out of consciousness. She remembers it as a time of great sorrow for both her and my dad.
My oldest sister Suzy was only about three years old at the time and remembers little about it, either. About all she can really recall is that Dad, then still only a very young guy, cried deeply and intensely for a long time.
It snowed that night and into the morning as Little Bill was being born and died within a couple of hours. It was cold weather and the cold must have seemed to permeate the universe, to permeate the heart, aggravating the ache.
According to my mother, her parents hadn't accepted my dad's marriage to her well. He was from a poor family and my mother's parents had thought she could do better. Dad was always a poor ragamuffin, and my mother had even bought him clothes with the money she made at her job working for her dad as a bookkeeper. This had infuriated her father, my grandfather. But my dad had loved my mother intensely and had demonstrated his love for her so convincingly that she'd defied their wishes and married him.
result of these and other things, my grandparents virtually didn't
speak to my dad during those years before my birth. It was a hard
time for him, therefore, when Little
Bill died, because, with mom disabled in the hospital, Dad was alone in trying to arrange for the funeral and burial of his little boy baby. He could hope for no help from my grandparents, who, only in much later years were to be warmer toward him.
On that cold, cold day, with snow on the ground and even more falling, my father went out into the streets of Jonesboro and tried to find something to bury his baby in. He wanted it to be special, to express his love and devotion. Something that would hold the baby, wrap tightly around it, keep it as warm as possible in any way possible on that cold day.
Dad was always a firm believer in hats. He had always made a point to have a hat or cap, even if he didn't have a warm coat or gloves. To him, the thing he wanted that could best show how he felt about his baby was a cap that would fit around Little Bill's tiny head snugly, keep his head as warm as possible and give him as profound and prolonged a hug, there in the grave, as possible.
He had no car and he didn't know anyone in town at the time. Eventually, my mother's two uncles did hear of the baby's death and come to help. But my mother's parents had refused to be involved, so distant had they become from the young couple that were then my parents. Shortly after the funeral, my grandmother even told my mother, her daughter, that the baby didn't need a funeral: such was her mentality at the time. In later years, her heart would soften, but that was of little help at the time.
Even though my mother's two uncles eventually helped in arranging the funeral the same day as the baby was born and died, Dad had still been forced to walk in that snow that was in part a snow in the heart, until he found a shop with baby clothing on display. He told us afterwards that he couldn't even recall the name of the shop anymore. But what he did find was a hat for Little Bill. He brought it back to the hospital and with the help of the hospital staff and, by then, my mother's uncles, he contacted a minister and a local funeral home and arranged and then attended--alone, again--the funeral of his baby--all, in the snow.
The little hat was blue, dad said. It was similar to a toboggan, with a small bill attached and made of a knit material and pattern. My mother tells me that she thinks I had one similar to it in white as a baby. Dad had placed it on Little Bill's head before the small, informal funeral attended only by the minister and a loving, brokenhearted young father.
I Just Saw Little Bill Again
The events of that cold day in Jonesboro in 1948 when dad had buried his first boy baby alone in the snow, were to give a special meaning to what was to come at the end of the life of that young father. In his final days, my dad had told my sisters and mother that he'd "seen Little Bill again," on more than one occasion in his hospital room.
"You say you saw Little Bill?" Amy and Ann had asked, astonished.
"Oh yes--several times. He's been in this room before. He was so beautiful."
This was especially poignant and significant because in my earlier book Tim, George Bush and Me, I had described a series of events in which my middle sister Amy, as a small girl, had suddenly awakened to see a little boy in a little blue cap seated on a toy box in her room on two occasions. At the time, Amy hadn't even known about the details of Little Bill's funeral so many years before or of how Dad had buried Little Bill in a blue toboggan cap with a bill. She had the "dream" once in our home in California and then, some years later, though she was still young, when we lived in Arkansas. It wasn't until after the second incident that my father had explained to us that he had buried Little Bill in a blue cap. It is, therefore, not clear at all why the little boy Amy had seen would have been wearing a blue hat: it certainly didn't have anything to do with her having been told this about Little Bill.
For more on Amy and Little Bill, go to Amy and Little Bill, in Part I: Tim and Me.
In the days after my father's death, I had coincidental experiences that were similar in nature to those that I had at the time of and after my brother's death three years before, and which I describe in "Phoenix Sunset." The morning of my father's death, I awakened at six o'clock, completely independently of the alarm, shortly before his death. Shortly afterward, Suzy called to tell me that Dad was dying and that I'd better come quickly. This was totally unexpected, since we'd had some hope that he'd gradually regain his strength. I arrived at his hospital room just as the nurse was leaving to tell the doctor Dad had just died.
He was truly gone. It was sudden. He always had that quality about him: suddenness, fast moves or fast decisions, though he was a stable man, not given to wild leaps of judgment, at least in his older years. He was an incredibly responsible, deadly serious man.
I reflect back, in these several weeks since his death, at how tears came readily when he first died. That first few days, they seldom stopped. Now, however, I find no difficulty in not making them come forth. Nor do they impose themselves on me in the midst of other activities.
I've been surprised by this, because, of course, my heart is aching. There are, after all the years, many memories we've had together, all the special things I could share only with him. I simply cannot believe there isn't more grieving going on here.
He would have wanted it that way. "God grant you Peace," was one of his favorite sayings.
Dad and Me
We were close in a lot of ways. I could always go to dad--or, anyway, I always did. As a little boy I went to him for just about anything that was on my mind or troubling me. He was overindulgent with me in a lot of ways, but sometimes there was a gap that I now can see was caused by the huge difference in the ways we were brought up. He was brought up in a home where he had to pay his own way and work unbelievably hard from the time he was tiny, a ragamuffin, tow-headed, squinty-eyed plowboy. He, as he said, "grew up on the end of a crosscut saw."
He went out early in the morning, at ten or younger, to help his father cut timber. Schooling was something frivolous, something you did if you could work it in: making a living was the paramount thing. Even as a small boy, he never got to go to school as much as he wanted. When I was small, he confessed to me that he always loved to read, study and learn and hadn't gotten to as much as he'd have liked.
That wasn't his only area of frustration in life, however. Several of his childhood dreams were crushed and many secret hopes destroyed. His father was strict and cruel to him, killing his hopes and dreams in many areas, from school to career opportunities. His father even precluded his having a chance to play professional baseball.
One of the last memories I have of him is driving an old black Ford back up to Batesville after driving down with me in a little Omni, when he helped me get my license. That was in 1993. He'd helped me get the little Omni, then he'd driven that old Ford back up to Batesville, by himself. He was even then, white-headed.
Yet he was only--and just barely--73 when he died. He was, however, a very old 73. He had put a lot of miles on his little body and mind, a lot of stress and wear and tear, partly caused by the likes of me, spoiled as a little boy and virtually useless to him in his small business endeavors, as a grown man. If I'd been more help to him, his stress level might have been lower and maybe he'd still be around today . . .
He'd say to stop that, of course. I can't deny that he'd say that. I'm sure that he's looking over my shoulder now, at least every once in a while. But I can't help but wonder why he's been so silent. He hasn't contacted me in any way.
Unless he did in the dream I had the other night, when he came to me, still whiteheaded but now very robust, and said that he was much better now. He said that the tumor was gone, that "they had come just in time" and now he felt better than he'd felt in years. It is the hope that is implicit in that dream that has inspired me to write.
Even now, the full realization that he's gone is sinks in only with difficulty. I hear myself saying those words sometimes and it doesn't sound real. It doesn't sound like I'm saying them. I've heard other people say them so much. It takes a few seconds, sometimes, for the full realization to hit--and even then, I'm not sure it really has. Somehow, for some strange feeling, at those times of what would be deep grief, I feel a Peace.
I wonder: When Dad was in his last days, he said he was praying to God to give me Peace and that he wanted God to look after me. Perhaps it is that Peace that is giving me this solace now. In return for that blessed, loving prayer of his for me, I can only ask that God, or whatever is in charge, will look after my dad. I loved him.
Dreams and Synchronicities
Maybe that dream I had was just a dream, wishful thinking. Maybe it was based on my fantasy that, for a brief few seconds when we were out of the room right after he died, the nurses had come in and revived him and we hadn't been told for some reason.
Yet I'd known even at the time I had the dream, that he was dead. We had just had the funeral. I'd seen him lying in state there. Why would I have thought that he'd come back and tell me the tumor had successfully been removed and he was still alive?
My mother and my sisters were in the dream, too. And dad was with a woman when he came to visit us. I had never seen her before. I can't really picture her face very well, other than I recall that she looked a bit like my youngest sister Ann, only somewhat older. She wasn't very old, however. I never got a name. I'm tempted to wonder if it was a dead relative, someone who's passed on, one of those that he knew well when I was only little and don't remember. Some days afterward, I discussed the strange womans appearance with my mother and Sue. I also reviewed some family photos, some of which Id never seen or looked at closely. In some of the older group photos, taken from some distance, an unfamiliar-looking younger woman peers out. After a couple of close looks, I could see that it was Grandma, my dads mother, who had died only a few weeks before dad did. Perhaps that was only a coincidence, too. Or perhaps it was proof of a Communication.
I'd really like to believe that--that he was talking to me, since he passed on, from the Other Side. But initially there were many things about that dream that didn't sound right, in viewing it in that way.
For example, when the dream first started out, mom, my sisters and I were in a strange place. I'm not clear where exactly we were--in the hospital, in a hotel lobby or exactly where. I recall it wasn't the house in Batesville--at least, not right away. At a point later in the dream it was, however. Why and how we returned to that house in Batesville, I'm not clear. But in the final part of the dream, there we were.
The dream in question was in two parts. Part One was where dad came to see me and hugged me: real, close, warm--it felt so real, just like real life. He said he felt better than he'd felt in years, that they'd come for him just in time (that was the expression he used--"they came for me just in time"). He was bigger, more robust than he'd been in the past couple or three years. We'd watched him wither away. It had been so troubling. Now, he seemed to be saying, he was back to normal health again.
He didn't stay long. The dreamscape changed again and mom, my sisters and I were in the house in Batesville. Mystically, we all returned there. I don't know where we had been before.
Odd coincidences, such as my grandmothers seeming appearance in the dream in a way Id never actually seen her before, weren't the only qualities about the dream that makes me wonder if it was a Communication. There was also a feeling about what I was feeling, in that latter part in the dream. It was a feeling, not an event so much, that makes me wonder if dad was communicating with me. I'll try to describe what I mean.
Sometimes, when I was a little boy, Dad had sayings, little routine things he'd say all the time. When I first heard him say those things, I didn't always understand what he meant. I would interpret the images he was conveying in my own little way. Only years afterward, sometimes, would I really get an understanding of those things he had said. Then, I'd look back on some of my interpretations as a child and see how incorrect they were. It was something that happened on more than one occasion.
At those times, I'd speak with my mother or my aunts--women who were older than I and who, even when he'd said those things, had understood what they really meant. I tried to describe how I felt--at those times of realization--to those women. I tried to describe to them how I felt, now that I understood, as an adult, what dad's saying really meant. It had been understood by adults but not by me. Sometimes, I felt I should have understood it sooner than I did. I felt awkward at being so slow in growing up.
There was a quality to how dad would act at those times that is also difficult to convey, but which caused a certain emotional reaction in me. That emotion is difficult to describe. It wasn't really pain at all, more a feeling of being in the presence of one who was much smarter than I'd thought. Dad didn't gloat or act rude at those times. Rather, there was a special father-son feeling, perhaps only unique to him and me. It was a feeling of comfort, of knowing that dad had been patient.
He may even have realized, known, that I hadn't really understood what his saying had meant at the time. He'd simply bided his time and watched me grow up, patiently letting me learn for myself that, sometimes, fathers know best--or know more than we think they do. Or that there is a bigger world out there than a little boy can realize for awhile. Of course, I knew already that daddy knew a lot of stuff that I didn't know. I just took that for granted. It was more that feeling--of having adjusted, of having gained that final bit of insight and knowledge as an adult, of being more on a par with dad in terms of maturity and understanding. That feeling came at those times, along with the realization he'd been patient with me without my even knowing it.
It was a feeling akin to that I experienced in Part II of the dream, the part wherein mom, my sisters and I were sitting in the house, first recalled as the house in Batesville, but gradually changing to the house in Pleasant Plains: the one my parents lived in when dad died. The one mom lives in now. The one we had just been in for the funeral. We were sitting on the couch in the living room, talking. I mentioned to them--for in this dream we were conversing about Part I of the selfsame dream--that dad had said "they had come just in time" and that the woman with him had looked a lot like Ann, only a little older.
Even then, though, there was a feeling that Mom and my sisters were saying to me that dad really was dead, that what I was recalling him saying wasn't doctors that had been the "they" who had come. That the tumor had been "taken" away from him not by medicine but by death. In other words, as I, in the dream itself, reflected back on what dad had said to me, in that strange place he'd first come to me and hugged me, I came to feel that feeling again--the one where I finally understood what his "saying" meant.
He and the woman had not been alive, he seemed to have said. And, as I awakened from the dream, I had that feeling very powerfully. That peaceful and calm feeling, that feeling of appreciation of his knowledge for being even greater than I'd thought it had been, that I used to experience on first gaining a real understanding of what another of his sayings really meant.
In the dream conversation with my mom and my sisters, that realization only gradually came. That feeling, that realization, had come to me, although mild in nature. It made me realize, with a slowly building sense of alarm, that I'd learned something which was outside of myself during Part I of the dream. And this realization had a mildly startling quality to it. That was why I'd awakened. Dad had told me something, in Part I of the dream which, in Part II, I was endeavoring to understand. It was a "saying," for him to have said that "they came just in time." It was a "saying" for him to have said that "they got the tumor out just in time." And, just as the true meaning of his sayings in the past had taken a little while to sink in, to come to my awareness, so, what he'd said in Part I of the dream didn't begin to really "dawn" on me until late in Part II.
He had gestured to the woman with him, the woman who looked like Ann only older, and said, "she was one of the ones who came and got me." The woman had spoken to me or in some way had communicated with me--perhaps only a touch on the shoulder. But, between them, the two of them had said a "saying."
Dad wasn't telling me, in Part I, that the doctors had come to save him from the tumor. He was telling me that "they," the dead, had come for him. The woman with my dad, I'm fairly sure, is dead. I've never seen her before, yet she looked familiar. Perhaps she was only much older when I had actually seen her, and, like dad, she was much younger than she'd been the last time I'd seen her. That being the case, she could have been someone dad was familiar with, even if I wasn't. Or, she could have been Grandma, dad's mother, who had, after all, died less than two months before and who, incredibly, does look a great deal like my sister Ann in pictures when she was younger. Perhaps she had been waiting for Dad.
Dad had a certain irony that he spoke to me with and in, at those times when I'd come to those "realizations" about his "sayings." He'd generally say something to the effect that he'd been skeptical all along that I'd been able to adequately understand what he had been talking about. He frequently had a slight note of satire.
Thus, when he told me that "they came just in time," he meant that, contrary to all our futile attempts to use "book learning" to solve problems via medicine and doctors and their knowledge, his real salvation--the one he'd indicated early on that he'd wanted--had been the salvation of death. We were fighting so hard, he was saying, against something so good. You just didn't understand what we really meant, son--just like in the past, when you were little, and you just didn't understand at first what I meant by those sayings I'd say.
And, Part II of the dream was simply my first stirrings in the direction of comprehending what he had really said in Part I. As I got that first stirring of realization and mild feeling of being startled, I began moving back more in the direction of where I really was. Moving in that direction, I moved, in the dream, first from the strange place where he and the woman who looked like Ann had been. From there, the dream scenes changed to the house in Batesville, briefly: closer to where I was as I dreamed. The next scene was the house in Pleasant Plains. Then, finally, as that realization of his and the woman's "saying" fully dawned on me, I came back to full wakefulness in Little Rock: an awakened state that I arrived in, mildly startled at what I'd experienced.
I am reinforced in this idea a lot now at work, at Target. As I work on the sales floor, I frequently hear children being communicated with by their parents as they ride by in shopping carts or as they walk alongside shopping moms and dads. At those times, sometimes little questions are asked as little minds struggle to understand a grown-up world: mom why this, dad why that?
Sometimes, the child understands when they answer. But many times, even when the child repeats back what the parent has just told them, they still don't really understand. They just leave it to their parents to know what's best. Years from now, in some cases, they will really understand what they hear their parents saying in conversation with other adults. For now, their comprehension is limited. They form an intermediate level of understanding which will suffice for now, for a time.
In my case, in the dream, Dad and the woman who looked like Ann were telling me something, also, that at first I didn't comprehend. "They," including the woman, had come "just in time." (Irony, you see: that satirical irony, playing on words regarding the hopes we'd had that medical procedures might turn out to be "just in time.") Now, dad was saying, he "felt better than he had in years." In this case, it didn't take me several years to understand dad's "saying" with this other adult. It took me only a few minutes. I moved toward understanding it while still in the dream state, hence the change in scene. But only as the scene in Part II became more real world did I begin to understand--and with that understanding had come full, startled wakefulness.
Dad was telling me he was in a better place, that the suffering of this life and of his physical body, was gone now. He was telling me not to worry, nor to be sad, that he was fine and that he was alive, on the Other Side. That's what the woman who looked like Ann had been saying, too.
Now, when I hear kids asking their parents Those Questions, I can feel a sense of comfort. I also feel comforted by the lack of tears, the feeling of Peace I keep having, as if a gift from someone else. I know dad is sending me Peace.
More Dreams and Synchronicities
My having had a dream in which my dad came and hugged me and introduced me to a woman who seems to have been my grandmother may seem a grasping at straws by some who haven't experienced the phenomena of the dream. After all, the mere fact that she had herself died only a few weeks before was not enough of a coincidence, in itself, to justify my seeing this as a Communication. The biggest impression about her that I came away with was that she was at a much younger age than I'd ever seen her. It was only on later reviewing photographs that I don't recall ever surveying that closely insofar as seeing my grandmother's face as a young woman--at least consciously-- that I saw the "woman in the dream" to be my dad's mother.
That one coincidence, in itself, might not be enough. But in subsequent months, as I proceeded on with graduate school at UALR, although I'd taken a great deal of comfort from these communications, which could have meaning only to me and our immediate family because of the details they conveyed, I had no reason to believe I'd ever receive another one.
Nevertheless, they'd been enough to change my life forever. I had already been inspired to write one book that described my experiences in being contacted by my late brother. Now, I was trying to write to describe how Dad, too, had reached out to me from beyond death. I had already had enough in that area to remove my old doubt and end my long search for spiritual answers. Though I didn't have any details nor any traditional religion to relate them to, I knew that these experiences proved life made sense, that there was another side, that death wasn't the end. I felt a peace I'd never known before, even as I mourned all the lost years and the disappearance of youth. I didn't seek or expect another communication from dad. Yet, I was to have another.
Last year, shortly after Christmas--which was, of course, a sad one without Dad there--I had misplaced a blue toboggan that I used a lot at work. It was missing for the last two weeks of the semester, from early January. I looked in vain for it.
One night, in a dream, Dad appeared again. He looked white-headed, but was more robust than he had been the day he died. He appeared similar to the way he'd appeared in the dream when he'd introduced me to the woman who was apparently my grandmother.
He was standing at some point in proximity to my bed. I'd been choosing to sleep in a small, twin-size rollaway bed for the past several days since Dad's death because it was one of the last places Dad had been when he'd visited me in Little Rock several years before. Sleeping there seemed to give me hope of a bond or connection, or, if nothing else, a greater insight into how he may have felt at times.
In the dream, Dad seemed concerned or curious. He was definitely in my bedroom. He pointed to a small sack of white clothing, which was apparently in the floor, and he asked, "Are those yours?" That's all I can recall. The dream images began to fade after that.
Later that morning, when I awoke and got up to make breakfast, I kept wondering what sack of clothing in the floor dad was pointing to. I went back into the bedroom and looked. Over behind my clothes hamper, between it and the wall, was a small grocery sack my mother had sent back with me after my last visit with her. I looked in it and recalled that it had four undershirts that my mother had brought to my dad in the hospital. As I bent over to pick up that little sack of undershirts, I looked in the floor next to it--and there was the blue toboggan.
Finding Others: After Death Communications
At a website called ADC or After Death Communications a few weeks before, I found several events that seemed to have a quality to them that I had experienced. I read where persons on their deathbeds will sometimes report that deceased loved ones appear to them shortly before they die. I immediately related this to dad's saying he'd "seen Little Bill again," there in his hospital room on those last days. I also noted that he was staring at the same point in the room, when I saw him there dead, as he had pointed to when he said he "saw Little Bill again." According to the website, dying persons are frequently seen to be staring at a point in the room where they'd previously said they'd seen a departed loved one.
I had also read at that website that sometimes persons who have lost loved ones will experience having been contacted in a dream by a deceased loved one. By that time, I was primarily relating my earlier experiences with communications from Tim and Dad to other items in the website, such as the experience of feeling hugged and of the phenomenon of numerous coincidences occurring close together, such as I described "Phoenix Sunset."
Go to Phoenix Sunset in Tim, George Bush and Me Part I: Tim and Me
However, on reviewing that website in the aftermath of this last communication from my dad, I realized that there was another experience there that I'd just had. It is that many times, after a loss, persons report losing items and having a recently-deceased loved one appear to them in a dream and tell them where the item is.
That's what had happened to me. Given Little Bill's little blue toboggan, I have no doubt now: that was the message dad wanted to convey to me. The blue hat was our connection, our connecting point, he was saying. My writing about the phenomena earlier pertaining to Amy's seeing of Little Bill had reminded Dad of that day, he'd told me at the time. Now, he seemed to be saying, here was one last reminder, one last communication from him, one last small thing he could do, to show me he was ok.
Such an action wasn't any great miracle: it didn't heal
anyone or resolve any injustices. That wasn't its purpose: its
purpose was to reassure me, and, through me, others in our family,
that Dad was in a better place, that he did live on. Coming as it did
on top of the several experiences I'd had shortly before and after
Tim's death and the earlier experiences I'd had at the time of Dad's
death, it brings measure of peace and reassurance to my life that
I've never had. I hope to be able to change now, to adjust and take
in the new perspective on reality that these experiences have brought
to me. It's definitely clear to me that this present life is only one
part of a larger reality, not the whole picture. It was, perhaps,
the answer I'd been seeking all those years.
Guggenheim, Bill and Judy. After-Death Communication. 20 May 1998 On-line
posting website. After-Death.com. World Wide Web. October 12, 1998. ©1996 by Bill Guggenheim and Judy Guggenheim.
Guggenheim, Bill and Judy. Hello From Heaven. New York: Bantam, 1996.
Peat, F. David. Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matter and Mind. New York: Bantam: 1987.