When someone you love dies, you tend to wonder where they are now, if they’re still ‘around’ in spirit, that sort of thing. It’s only natural.
My late father was a big goofball, very funny, but in a dry-as-toast humor kind of way (explains my sense of humor, I suppose). Before he died, we used to joke with each other about him possibly haunting me. Naturally, I told him not to ever scare me or freak me out once he was dead. I know, such a strange conversation to have, but us Mainers aren’t known for mincing our words.
He promised me he would only haunt me in the funniest or mildest way possible. And only if I asked him to, of course. I was and still am Daddy’s little girl, so I know he would never intentionally freak me out in any way.
Still, I ask him for signs here and there. Not often, maybe once every few years or so. Usually, when I’m thinking about him or missing him, like when it’s his birthday or Father’s Day, I might casually ask him how he’s doing…hey, what’s happenin’, Daddy-O?…stuff like that. I tell him about my life and what his grandkids are doing. Then I test him. Ask him to show me a sign he’s heard me and to prove that he still exists somewhere. (I’m a Virgo, cynical by nature, what can I say?)
When I’m alone, I actually talk to him out loud. This is key, I think. And before you think I’m a bit loony, let me say this: I loved my dad more than any other man on the planet, save my husband. He meant the world to me and to lose him was devastating, as it is to anyone who loses a parent. So, to occasionally talk to him, like he’s around? It’s a normal thing for me, a way to grieve, stay connected and remember him.
He’s been gone now for 21 years–today is the anniversary of his death–and whenever I’ve asked him for a ‘sign’, he delivers. In a way there is no mistaking it was him. He was, and still is, a clever guy. He apparently hasn’t lost his sense of humor, either.
A few years ago, my husband and father-in-law were helping my mother move from her apartment in another town to come live with us. I had silently asked my dad for a sign that morning. Suddenly, my phone rang and it was my father-in-law, a man who isn’t inclined to believing in ghosts or signs.
“Darla, this sounds crazy but….”
“Did you ask your dad for a sign today?” he asked.
I felt my heart stop. “Yes, I did! Why?”
“Did he have a connection with electronics? Like, say…with fuses?” he laughed.
My dad was a typical father back in the ’70s. He was always puttering around the house, fixing things, rebuilding things. We used to tease him because he had drawers full of junky old fuses, odd and ends. Always ready to fix anything at a moment’s notice. He’d wanted to be an electrician while in the Navy, but his color-blindness had ended that dream.
My father-in-law continued chuckling on the phone, “Because we got out of my car, went inside to help load up the U-Haul…. came back and there was this old-fashioned fuse that looked like it was from the old days just sitting smack in the middle of my car seat. It wasn’t there before and we can’t figure out where it came from.”
My dad struck again.
Another year, the day I had asked my dad for a sign, I was playing a video game with my then five year old son. After I won the game, he turned to me and yelled, clear as day, “Good job, Punky!”
“What did you just say?” I asked. A chill ran up my neck.
“I don’t know,” he shrugged and turned back to his game.
I hadn’t heard anyone call me Punky since I was about eight years old. It was my dad’s nickname for me. Even my husband didn’t know my dad had called me Punky. Say what you will, maybe it was coincidence. But I know it was my dad’s way of saying he was there with me.
There are loads of other ‘signs’ he’s left me over the years, too many to go into here.
This brings me to this year’s sign. Probably the best one yet. Definitely the most unbelievable.
I always have a very difficult time when his anniversary comes up, so to fight the darkness, I asked my dad for yet another signal: “Hey, Dad. How goes it? If you’re not too busy, how about showing me a sign you’re still around again? This time, make it a really good one, so I know it’s definitely you.” I laughed to myself because I knew he wouldn’t disappoint.
That night, I had a vivid dream he was talking to me, but I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. At one point, I started to slowly wake up from the dream, still foggy in that bizarre transition from dreaming to waking, when I heard him say plain as day, in a firm voice, directly into my ear:
I will call you.
As I stirred awake, I heard him say it again and again a few more times. I was fully awake now, my heart pounding. Keep in mind, this is not a normal occurrence for me. I don’t think I’ve ever received a message from my dreams, especially one that vivid before. I usually wake up in a complete groggy state and forget my dreams within seconds.
I will call you. His voice still echoed deep in my mind.
Hm. I thought. He’s gonna call me? Ha! I’d love to see that happen! I couldn’t help but giggle at the ridiculousness of the very notion. I didn’t even tell my husband what my dad said in my dream. I shook it off and went about my day.
So I pushed my dream to the back of my thoughts. Later on that day, my husband was in the living room and I was in the bedroom. Suddenly, my cell phone rang. Which is odd because I have an old pre-pay flip phone and rarely use it. I have it for emergencies only. No one ever calls me on it, unless it is the school with an emergency about my kids. I don’t think I’ve received a single phone call on my phone in over a year. I didn’t even realize what ring tone I had until it went off that night. Yet, there it was, ringing and ringing, cutting through the silence.
Neither of us made a move to answer it.
“Is that your phone?” asked my husband, laughing to himself.
“I don’t know, I guess. Who could be calling me? Where is it?” I yelled from the bedroom.
“I think it’s coming from your purse.”
“Huh. That’s odd.”
It stopped ringing, so I went back to reading my book.
About an hour went by and when I walked into the living room, my husband asked, “Hey, who was calling you on your phone anyway? Did you check?”
Oh, yeah! I walked over and dug my cell out of my purse and flipped it open to see who had called me on caller ID. I scrolled down to “missed calls”.
It was my own cell phone number.
My cell phone called my cell phone? Is that possible?
“What the hell? It’s my own number? How could my phone call itself?” I asked my husband. “Maybe a button was somehow accidentally pushed in my purse?”
Granted, neither of us was anywhere near my purse when the phone started ringing.
I stood there trying to figure it out. I decided to dial my cell phone number on my cell to see if it would ring (as crazy as that sounds) and of course, it went straight to my voice mail. How can a phone dial itself? I’ve had this phone for years and years and never once did it ‘call itself’. I was positive it must be a glitch. Right?
It took several minutes before it dawned on me.
I will call you.
And you know what?
I think he did.