My dad was a hard working man who loved his family very much. He was a simple man, but very pure of heart. I know he always tried to do the thing that he felt was right to do. Sadly, he contracted small cell lung cancer, which he battled for the better part of a year. After nearly fighting it off, we all went to his follow up appointment to celebrate the hopeful good news, but instead we discovered that the cancer was back with a vengeance and traveled to his brain and throughout his adrenals and other areas. I remember it because it was one of the worst days of my life. The doctors said they would do brain radiation, but that it was not to be a curative treatment, only to prevent seizures and pain. We were advised to contact hospice and make our final arrangements, as he did not have much longer. On April 29th of 2012, my father passed away in his bed, with our family by his side. I don't want to give too many more details of his passing as it is still very difficult for me to discuss, and it isn't really relevant to the story. I will say that he waited for my grandma to come say goodbye before passing on (my mom's mother, not his). Thank you mods for allowing me the paragraph to commemorate him.
That same summer, my wife and I went up to camp in Northern Arizona. My dad always called it going up North, and it was nice to take my wife to some of my dad's old haunts (no pun intended). I always planned on keeping that tradition of "going up North" in my family because the childhood memories with my dad were priceless. We had a very enjoyable and peaceful weekend, and on the way back out of the forest service roads to the highway, we got lost a bit. She sort of panicked, but anyone who knows FSR's knows that you might drive 20 miles in and out of crevices, but you will end up back at the highway, eventually.
I told her, don't worry, dad is guiding us through here, we will be just fine. She began to relax and enjoy the scenery. We came around a corner that was so strangely familiar to me. A sign read "Willow Springs". One of the places my dad loved so much up there. He led us right to it! If any of you Arizonans know Forest Lakes area, I'm referring to the spring that fed the lake, that is now dry as a bone, not the lake itself. So, dad did guide us through there after all!
It wasn't long after his passing, maybe three months, that I had a very vivid dream about him. (This isn't a dream story, but this is relevant). I dreamed that he came back to our old house and walked through the front door. I was ecstatic to see him and had so many questions to ask him about the afterlife. As I began to question him, his answers were very short and half-hearted seeming to me. I asked him what it was like, he said he was lonely except for the company of his one friend, and that it was very scary. The dream ended with him being wrapped in a blanket on the floor because he was cold, and I hugged him and put my head against him and cried.
I woke up in the middle of the night from the dream and wrote down what I could remember. I do not have the actual document any more, or the details would be greater, but those are the important things that will shape the rest of my story.
As I said, he said he was lonely except for his one friend being with him. His friend passed very shortly after him and was ill for a long time before his passing. On his death bed, my dad's friend told his wife not to worry as my dad was there to collect him and that he was not afraid to die any more. Moments later, he passed away as well.
Some of the details of the dream disturbed me a little. I mean I know how dreams can be strange, and it can be hard to sort through some of the subconscious mind's embellishments, but I couldn't forget the sad details and conversation we had. I began to research dream interpretations and learned a couple of interesting things.
I read somewhere that a loved one being afraid in a dream usually means they are warning of something difficult or dangerous to come. And on the other hand, being wrapped up can indicate a baby on the way. We soon discovered that my wife had become pregnant! One year and a few days after my dad's passing, my daughter was born. My wife and I were so excited to have a child finally, as we had tried fruitlessly for several years and had almost given up the thought of her being pregnant. We were open to adoption, as I myself am adopted, but we finally had our baby! My daughter was born May 2nd of 2013, almost an exact year of my father's death anniversary.
I thought back to my dream and knew that my dad was signaling the arrival of our daughter, I just felt it in my heart... But what about the warning? The scary part?
In September of the same year that my daughter came into our lives, I was driving home from work when all of a sudden I couldn't steer straight. It was like the truck kept veering to the left. I got home and didn't think much of it, but as the evening went on, I began to feel very weak and clumsy on my left side. I told my wife and she insisted on going to the hospital. After all, it wasn't like me to complain of not feeling well, enough to bother her with the details. It was determined that I suffered a stroke in my right brain, and that I was probably very lucky that it wasn't fatal. Was that my dad's warning? Some may say it was coincidental, but my mind shot back to the dream, and what dad told me. I was over weight, with super high blood pressure, developing diabetes and a chain smoker. I am only 35 years old! My dad was warning me to change my ways, I know it in my heart to be the case. After not heeding his warning, I suffered the consequences and spent the last year recovering from my deficits. Oh sure they are still there, but I went from learning to walk all over again to being back at work full time, functioning as normally as I can, and continuing to improve my condition. You can't even tell by looking or talking to me that I ever had a stroke. How lucky am I? Maybe I have an angel somewhere? *wink wink*
Fast forward to 4th of July, this year. My dad always loved 4th of July. Lighting off harmless fireworks and black cat poppers, grilling burgers, and watching fireworks with his family were some of his favorite times. We had all gathered at my mom's house to have some fun, and I was thinking about my dad a lot. All of a sudden I smelled cigarette smoke very strong in the room. My father was a heavy smoker, but it had been nearly a year since I last lit up. No one else smokes. I mentioned it and my wife said she smelled it too, only briefly. We believe it was my dad saying hi, that he is still checking up on us and coming around for his favorite festivities. That same night we took a photo of my mom sitting on the floor with my daughter and niece who is about three months old now. The reflection in the television, which was off, looked an awful lot like a man standing near them. My dad would have loved his grand kids so much, he always did like children. I will try to get the picture to upload, but it isn't very detailed at all, and I may not be able to get it. Maybe I just want to see him so badly that I find him once in awhile, but others have said it definitely looks like a man standing next to my mom and the babies. It could also be a simple case of pareidolia, when the brain makes humanoids out of otherwise shapeless images.
Maybe one more thing that happened was when I was showering after work the other day. I had finished cleaning myself and was leaning against the wall just letting the water hit me a bit, when I started talking to my dad in my head. I had a conversation in my thoughts with him, unlike anything I have ever thought.
Well, what do you guys think? Is my dad watching over us? I know he is, but would like some feedback from the impartial audience. Thanks for reading, and maybe now it is more clear why I have been gone awhile!