I come from a fairly large extended family. Especially from my mom's side. She is one of 16 children and I have over 200 first cousins. Lot more second and third cousins. We had many family reunions that were well over 1000 members (my dad's side of the family was also there because of a few marriages between the families) when I was younger. They were a blast but also mind boggling. Even though I spent many summers with many of them, I was sometimes confused to who was talking to me because I could not remember them.
The reason I mention all of this is because I was very fortunate when I was younger to have a visit from my Uncle Richie who passed away in 1978.
My Uncle Richie (one of mom's brothers) was battling with colon cancer, which spread throughout his body before he passed away at a young age of 39 years. I was always told I was his favorite niece, which is why he always affectionately called me "Dintzie". Not sure how he came up with the name but I always felt special for it because I was the only one given a nickname from him. To my knowledge that is. He never called me Leanne like my other cousins but just by my nickname.
I was living in Ontario at the time (Uncle Richie was in Alberta) and I was about 7 years old when I had one last final visit from him.
I was asleep when I woke up at around 2:30 am. Wasn't sure why, thought maybe I had to go to the bathroom. Lying in bed I recall I wasn't alone in my room. The only light came from the streetlamps from the one window in my room. All of a sudden I heard "Dintzie" coming from the foot of my bed. I sat up quickly to see where Uncle Richie was and to give him a big hug for coming for a visit. I should mention at this time I knew he was sick but not life threatening (as far as I knew) because my parents felt I didn't need to know.
However, when I looked around I couldn't see him. I thought that maybe he was playing a prank and hiding somewhere in my room to scare me. When I moved to get off the bed to find him I saw an image out of the corner of my eyes at the foot of the bed. I turned to look and he was standing there with a warm smile and his arms out. I'm already tearing up recalling this encounter.
I scurried over and gave him a hug. He whispered in my ear, "Dintzie I love you and I want you to always keep me in your heart. I have come to say good-bye and will always be watching over you". It felt so real! When I let go of my uncle he walked out my door. I couldn't find him when I went to look for him. I was confused by all this (not scared) and didn't know what to do.
I went to my parent's room asking where he went and they told me he wasn't visiting. I was dreaming and to go back to bed. I did with hesitation and surprisingly fell back to sleep rather quickly.
The following morning - with the image of my uncle still in my head - I went down to the kitchen to find my parents crying and holding one another. I asked what was wrong and they said my Uncle Richie passed away early this morning. I was shocked and confused because as I told them at the time, "what do you mean he was here last night, I told you and you told me to go back to bed because I was dreaming". The look on their faces was of concern and anguish. I told them what Uncle Richie said to me and was very positive he was in my room.
My parents didn't say much afterwards about what I have experienced. I know what I saw, felt and heard and it was real and left a lasting impression on me.
I was very sad when I could not attend his funeral; I was too young as my parents explained.
I later found out he passed away at around 4:00 am that morning almost 2 hours later from his visit with me.
Was I dreaming? Didn't feel like it then or even now. When someone is dying are they able to project themselves somewhere else before going to their final resting-place? Can you touch spirits (they can touch you if they want) as I did with a hug to my uncle?
I would love to hear your comments and answer to these questions.
Thanks for reading and take care