a hot, cloudless day in Tennessee and I was outside the funeral
home where the service for my paternal grandmother had just
ended. People were standing around catching up on things with
out-of-state family members and friends.
the chatter I heard someone behind me call my name. I turned
and saw my grandmother's sister, my Great-Aunt Lorraine. We
shook hands and I mentally noted how cool hers felt in mine
on such a sizzling day. I pointed out my husband and children
and she turned her head, yet never took her bright, clear
blue eyes off me. Abruptly I said, "Well, it was nice
to see you again," and turned my back to her. It was
rude and very unlike me.
way to my Dad's house it dawned on me that Aunt Lorraine had
died. I asked my dad and he confirmed that she had passed
away two years earlier. Finding it hard to believe that I
had actually seen her ghost, I decided to forget about the
in Ohio a couple of weeks later, while standing at the stove,
I clearly heard my name called again. I went to the front
door but no one was there. Retracing my steps I was startled
to see on the floor, where I had just walked, a large wadded
newspaper. There was no way I could have missed seeing it
as I went to the door. I picked it up and saw that it was
from my late grandmother's small town.
I unfolded it. Nestled inside was a porcelain bell. It was
white with red letters on one side spelling out "Hawaii".
Later, a relative told me that it was my grandmother's bell,
and that it had sat on her headboard for years. I knew then
that I had, indeed, seen and talked with my great aunt and
that she and my grandmother were up to something. But I had
no clue why they wanted me to have that bell. For years it
sat in my china cabinet with that bright red word turned away.
It was not my kind of decor.
years later, my dad was visiting me and we got into a discussion
about God. I knew he didn't believe in any kind of life after
death. I had heard him say many times, "When you die,
that's when the lights go out. Period." This time was
different. He finally admitted that he felt God did exist
in everything. Yet, he still believed that when you died,
you were simply dead.
I remembered that he had been to Hawaii many long years ago,
and I remembered him saying how it truly was a "paradise
on earth." I jumped up, got the bell and handed it to
him. I told him excitedly that I now knew the meaning behind
bell was never meant for me, Dad. It was for you! Your Mom
and aunt sent it to let you know there truly is a paradise
after you die!" By the end of our conversation, Dad's
belief system had entirely changed. I saw the peace on his
face as he accepted the fact that he would continue to live
on after death in a place far more beautiful than Hawaii.
He died on Father's Day the following year.
now sits with that single, bright red word "Hawaii"
facing forward. The blessing of that promised message given
to my Dad, a gift from Heaven, now gives me a smile and much
Oct. 29, 2004