I began to realize, in the months that followed my father’s move from his home of over 50 years during the fall of 2009, that my mother was watching over him constantly. It was pretty obvious that he could not remain in the house by himself. They’d barely hung on last winter and there were two of them. The house is far out in the country and tends to get a lot of snow, has a very long steep driveway, and requires a lot of maintenance. Despite the fact that he’d never lived alone before our father was determined to get an apartment. He was not going to a “home”!
He moved into an independent living apartment that he’d visited with my mother about a week before she died. It was located in his boyhood town and was right up the hill from his major haunts: his doctor’s office, the Eat N Park, KFC, McDonald’s, and his favorite Rite Aid. The fall was fairly painless. He carried on life much as he always had. He got up in the morning and went to either Eat N Park or McDonald’s for breakfast. Then he’d watch TV in his recliner until lunch. For lunch he would either eat in the dining room or if he didn’t like what they were serving, head out to KFC. He run a few errands in the afternoon, then settle in for an evening of TV watching, a hot shower, and then bedtime. He also had a lot of visitors during this period of calm adjustment.
The first thing I noticed was how he seemed to have this lucky star following him around. The synchronicities just didn’t stop! He often went out to the house (it had not been sold yet) to help clean up or mow the lawn. My brother was very apprehensive about this – especially the mowing! One day he loaded a bag of old magazines in the car to drop off in the recycling bin at the top of the road. It was late summer and very hot out that day – around 90 degrees. He got out of the car and heaved the load into the container. When he went back to the car he discovered that the door had shut and locked, with the car running. This is a pretty bad situation – he is alone, 87 years old, and is standing in an abandoned township maintenance garage parking lot in sunny 90 degree weather and locked out of his car with no cell phone. But, one of the neighbors just happened to be driving by and noticed him there. They picked him up and took him to their house to wait in the AC for the Triple A people to show up and let him back in his car.
Another time he accidentally left his apartment key in his apartment during one of his outings. Yet as he stood at the door realizing he had no way to get into the building, the owner of the building just happened to pull into the parking lot and was naturally more than happy to let him in.
Winter came and with it came a great deal of snow. He could no longer go out and drive around and this set him on a downward spiral of depression. He began to tell me things – that he woke up one morning and saw my mother’s face suspended in the air on the other side of the room in front of the heat duct. “Do you think she uses the energy from the heat to become visible?” he wondered aloud as he told me this. He also told me that he could hear her sometimes when falling asleep or just waking up. Sometimes she would sing to him, he said.
After the huge snowstorm he became lethargic. A week went by before I was able to get out to see him as we were completely snowed in for many days. He looked terrible. He hardly talked and this is unusual for him. Visits with him are normally very lively. The visiting nurse had put him on oxygen 24 by 7 (at the time he was only on it at night). Upon entering the apartment I was overwhelmed by the sense that his mother and sisters were sitting with him that evening. They were all there – Grandma Mason, Aunt Mary, Aunt Ruth, and Aunt Lorraine. As silly as this sounds – they were crocheting! I couldn’t see them – I just knew this as soon as I walked in the room. I left convinced that he was near the end. Every time the phone rang I was afraid it would be someone calling me to tell me he was dead. Subsequent visits were pretty much the same. We arranged for visiting nursing care since we were afraid he would fall in the shower, or fall down in the apartment and be stuck laying there on the floor until someone noticed he didn’t show up for lunch or dinner.
That March I was unable to sleep one night and I’d given over to meditating to pass the time. Suddenly a little spaniel dog trotted to the middle of my mental field of vision (I had my eyes closed), sat down, barked, and wagged her tail. I knew this dog! She was one of the dogs from my reading with Denise Lescano – one of the hunting dogs! On cue, the man who I’d since discovered was my father’s Uncle Archie appears in my mind – vividly. Not his whole body – just his head. Interestingly this is the same type of apparition my mother usually chooses to be.
“Try not to get too upset over the things happening with your father right now,” he said. “It looks worse than it is. Everything will work out fine.”
Then poof – the whole thing was gone. Great uncle, hunting dog, and all.
Then began a string of emergency room visits. My dad would get chest pains – stomach pains – various scary symptoms and be taken to the ER. The ER would check him over and not be able to find a darn thing wrong with him. He’d go home. Then he would feel guilty for having gone in the first place!
One night this happened I had to take him to the ER. I called him on my way down and he said he would meet me at the outside door of the apartment building. I pulled up to the side door he normally used but he was not there. I waited for a few seconds and then began to worry that he was at the front or back door. I was just about to pull out of the parking lot to check when I head a very loud, abrupt series of knocks on the front passenger side window of my car. I turned my head towards the sound. There was nothing there. But just then my dad walked out of the door – I could see him walk out because after I turned my head towards this sound, I was looking directly at the door. If that had not happened I would have driven away before he came outside. I knew it was my mother! She was making sure he didn’t end up standing outside in the cold when he was sick and on his way to the ER.
Within a couple weeks my father was hospitalized with pneumonia. He was in the hospital for several weeks. Spring came and with it a decision. After having gone through all of this Dad couldn’t go back to his apartment. He could barely stand up and walk. We arranged for him to go to a nursing home near my house for rehabilitation. Then we would have to decide if he could go home, or if he should move into assisted living.
My last visit to him in the hospital was on a fine early spring day. There were no leaves on the trees yet. As I drove down Route 28 my eye was drawn to the site of an abandoned coal mine on the hill. I could see a pile of black coal dirt where the tipple used to come out of the hill. When I was little the mine buildings were still there – I remembered seeing them at the bottom of the hill, next to the big pond where the barges used to come in from the river to pick up the coal. All that is there now is a slab of concrete although the pond is still there. From that moment on I could not stop thinking about that mine!
At home later in the evening my husband said he was pretty sure the name of it had been the Harmar Mine. I googled this and found information about the mine. The more information I found the more I googled. Next thing I knew it was 2:00AM and my husband is begging me to get the heck off the internet and come to bed! Talk about obsessed.
The very next day the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded.
My husband was completely freaked out (again).
I went to visit Dad again and asked him about the mine. He told me that after the Kinloch Mine closed in the 1930’s his father took a job at the Harmar Mine. OK, so now I knew that the mine thing was a result of contact with Grandpa Mason, and “the spooks” (as my friend Joann collectively calls them) have knowledge of at least some things that are going to happen in the future.
My father did well during his rehabilitation but due to his tendency to fall – and his discovery of how he liked having my son and I visit him every day more than he liked driving to Eat N Park, KFC, and Rite Aid – Dad decided to move into an assisted living apartment near our home in the North Hills.
Uncle Archie was right: it looked bad at the time but it turned out for the better in the end. My father thrives in this new environment. He was always the social butterfly (pun intended) and needs human contact. He likes playing bingo, going on field trips, and having other people around to talk to him. He especially likes not having to worry because the nurses check in on him all the time and manage his medications.
The synchronicities and other dramatic manifestations have slowed down considerably since my dad is now in a safe environment and is being cared for around the clock. But I know they are still there. Aware. And keeping an eye out for trouble!