Tag Archives: From the Other Side

Fathering Continued Beyond the Grave

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops an old photo of her father who is still fathering from beyond the grave

Father’s Day when your father is no longer around can be a time of bewilderment. Especially when it seems your father continues fathering from beyond the grave. Although my dad has been dead for eight years, I can still hear his words. Sometimes he is encouraging. Proud of me. Other times his words are filled with doubt and directives.

My father’s ghost shows up every time I spend more than the cost of a meal in a good restaurant. He says, You don’t need this; spend your money on something worthwhile. Dad makes me feel like mopping the floor with my tongue when I’ve spent money on something that doesn’t work out, like the Roto Rooter guy who charged me the $175 minimum service fee and then left without fixing the garage drain problem.

Dad sneers, This is the way you balance your checking account? and I shrink. He tells me, Never lend money to family. Be good to your sisters. Be generous to your friends. Spoil your dog; that’s your best friend. You don’t need a husband.

When I race home from Wegmans, throw bags of groceries in the fridge, wolf down dinner, and drag the dog for a quick potty before dashing off to some event across town and, in the scurry, misplace the car keys… Dad says, This is a hell of a way to live.

When I burn dinner, he suggests, Okay, now we go out to a nice restaurant. He chuckles at me dancing with the dog to John Philip Sousa’s marching band music, and persuades me to play every army bugle call I can find online.

Dad points out the honeysuckle that needs trimming, and the tiny dings in the car’s fender that should be painted before rust sets in. And the raccoon that lives under my deck, named Oscar after the squirrel Dad used to feed on his porch – sometimes I think the ‘coon is my father reincarnated, now overseeing my weed-whacking.

From the other side, from beyond the great divide, from wherever he is or is not on Father’s Day, I can hear my father louder than usual. His words comfort me like old familiar songs even though they mostly remind me I’ve been careless or done something stupid. Most of the time he has a valid point.

What voices do you hear from your father? What does Fathers Day mean to you?

 

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From the Other Side

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, finds a lone red leaf in her yard.From the other side of the wind, a girl searched for a red leaf. It had to be red. When the girl was alive, she had given her mother red socks, red flowers, a red sweater and a red velvet cake. She wanted to give her mother a gift now. But from the other side of life, her options were limited to redirecting energy, manipulating objects, or invading her mother’s dreams. She finally found a perfect red leaf and traveled with the wind to her old house. She left the leaf on the lawn.

Soon her mother came out to walk the dog. The mother immediately spotted the patch of bright scarlet in the grass and thought it was a mitten. Dragging the dog over the yellow and brown leaves that dotted the lawn, she discovered it was a single red leaf. She looked around, but there were no other red leaves anywhere near. She picked the leaf up and examined its pale pink underside, turning it over and over as she walked the dog. She laid the leaf on a small bush outside the door before entering the house.

The girl sighed heavily. Her mother had left her gift behind.

As the afternoon turned into evening, the girl watched her mother come and go in and out of the house several times, eyeing the red leaf on top of the bush each time she passed. Once, her mother came outside briefly just to photograph the leaf. The girl pretended to be a breeze and made it shake. But her mother always left the leaf outside. The girl grunted.

That night the rain came down hard. The wind howled fiercely and blew the last leaves off the trees. They swooshed around in noisy gusts all night long while the girl hovered over the bush with the one lone red leaf.

In the morning she saw her mother peek through the window at the bush. Suddenly her mother rushed out the door and grabbed up the red leaf. Tears dripped down her mother’s cheeks as she looked to the sky. Then she carried the leaf into the house, into the warm kitchen. There she placed it on a tissue and studied it, as if it were a map of her daughter’s heart.

 

What do you think? Can we get messages or gifts from beyond life? Have you ever received one?

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