Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hearts & Crosses, Part II

My father journeyed from death to new life on Pentecost Sunday.  In the days preceding his passing, he was seeing and speaking to angels all around him.  A couple of times in the hospital, he was speaking aloud and when a family member answered him, he said, "I'm not talking to you."  No one else on Earth was in the room.

So to say that we as a family got a little glimpse of Heaven in the days before my father moved beyond the veil is an understatement.  Thus the "Spirit Seers" in us were fully alive, watching and waiting for my dad to speak from his new Heavenly digs.  We didn't have to wait long.

Now to mention that all of us got some weird quirks from our dad is just to state a fact. There was a specific fork that Daddy always liked eating with when we were growing up. If he didn't get that fork, he would send the wrong one back to replace with his favorite, like sending undercooked fish back at a restaurant.  There was something about the weight and feel of that fork, I think, that was comforting and familiar to him. 

The Monday morning after Pentecost Sunday, my sister Christine (of the red heart leaf...Part I of this story) awoke and, before heading over to Mama's, made herself a cup of coffee.  Now Christine has inherited this little cutlery idiosyncrasy from my dad but in the form of coffee cups and coffee spoons.  She made herself a cup of coffee and pulled a spoon out of the dishwasher with which to stir her cream.  Alas, it was a spoon from her outdoor kitchen....the kind she hates.  Well, that wasn't going to do, so she replaced it and fetched her favorite.  For some reason (okay, we all know the reason), she turned it over, and this is what she saw...

Dumbfounded, Christine stared for a minute but then felt Daddy with her most poignantly.  So she said, "Good morning, Daddy."  She immediately knew that a cross would be one sign we would be getting from my dad.  (You can't see it, by the way, unless you're holding the spoon, but on the right side of the cross, there is a "J" clearly inscribed.  My dad's name is Joseph.) 

Shortly after that picture had made the texting rounds, we all met to drive to the funeral home and begin arrangements for Daddy's service.  I opened the car door to my sister, Theresa's, car to get in and this was waiting for me...

Of course, we all had to run around to that side of the car to see it....and my sister, Margaret, snapped a picture. 

A heart-shaped leaf
a cross engraved in Cascade on a spoon
a red heart band...
My husband and children flew in that day and my sisters and I began sharing all of the stories with them.  They listened incredulously (my daughter and son), perhaps a bit skeptically (my husband), and then left us at my mom's so we could continue our funeral work.  About 10 minutes later, I got a text from my 15 year old daughter...

"I can't believe I forgot to tell you this while you were sharing your stories.  I have been looking for this necklace for over a year, and I found it last night right before I went to bed."

This was getting just plain weird.

Our Aunt Peggy, Daddy's sister, who stayed with us throughout his hospice care, and who is of one mind with our family, listened and gasped and was just generally in awe with us regarding the signs.  Amidst the chatter, she got up and left the room.  When she came back, she was holding a framed picture and told us a story, only the beginning of which we knew.  

Daddy had received an answered prayer from God years ago for help with a sermon that he was supposed to preach that very night, the beginning homily of an octave of prayer.  (Daddy always did like to make things exciting by waiting 'til the last minute to prepare.  Sadly, this is another character trait some of us girls have inherited.) The message sent to him became the message he preached all over the country.  He told it everywhere he went.  Aunt Peggy's son-in-law, David, a graphic designer, was given the words Daddy wanted captured and made a beautiful print to match the message.  Daddy had it converted to cards and used them as his signature piece.  It was the original framed artwork she brought out of his room. Turning the picture around...

...all of us just stood there with our mouths agape.  Of course, hearts & crosses would be his insignia.  It was what he daily preached.  His beautiful words echoed in our memories:

"I call these Universal Life Principles. I hear them in my heart every day; I try to live them. Each day repeat them as your own.

God said:

1. "Tell them I love them!"
2."Tell them to love themselves!"
3."Tell them to love each other!"
4."Tell them to love Me!"
~ Joseph

We were astounded.  How could we have been so blind as to not understand his message to us so clearly?  I felt awash with relief that I would have my father's touch in my life still.  It was not the same as hearing his voice, speaking to him, but somehow these tangible signs were a lifeline in my grief.  My dad was watching over us, making sure we knew he was still with us, whole and healed from Heaven.

Still the greatest sign was forthcoming.  And what a message it was.

{Tomorrow, Part III...thanks for coming back.}

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