When she died my sister and I flew to Florida that night to be with him. My sister flew in from L.A., I flew in from Flin Flon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I can hear Canadians laughing from here. I WAS ON THE ROAD IN FLIN FLON, population 6, not counting the comedians.
The next morning I was sitting on a couch trying to wake up before I went to make coffee. I didn’t especially like Dad’s last wife but I really missed her in that moment, mainly because she always made the coffee.
I got up and went into the kitchen and noticed that a little placard was missing from the entrance wall of the kitchen. The little plaque above it was still there and I wondered if Dad had removed the other one to keep by his bed. I made the coffee and didn’t think another thing about it until a few hours later, when Dad and I decided to go to the post office. As we walked down the long corridor that led to our front door, we passed the kitchen and I noticed the missing plaque was back.
“Did you put the plaque back?”
“What plaque?” I stopped and turned back towards the kitchen. I motioned for him to follow me.
“This bottom plaque here, did you put it back?” I asked, pointing to the piece of wood.
“Put it back from where?” my father asked. I explained to him that I had been in the kitchen earlier and noticed it was missing. Standing with my father gazing at the itinerant plaque, we said nothing. Which if you know me, is unusual. My Dad? Could have passed for a statue at any point in his life.
Something was happening, as it often did around me and the dead. All I knew was that the placard was missing and now it was back. I just didn’t know why.
That night at the Yacht Club the remaining family and friends sat at a round table and put an empty place for the dearly departed. I find it creepy when people do that but so many people do it that maybe I’m the creepy one.
I had already been through the drama with Dad in the foyer of our apartment, so when we got to the Yacht Club, I repeated the story to the others. Family remained quiet. Friends, not so much.
One of Dad’s friends, Gracie, was an Electronic Voice Phenomenon tech who recorded the voices of the dead for a living. She and I exchanged looks. Suddenly my stepbrother turned to his youngest daughter and told her to stop rocking his chair. “Dad, I’m not even touching your chair,” she answered.
“Well someone is rocking my chair,” he insisted. Again Gracie and I exchanged a look.
“Hey, stop rocking my chair,” my father suddenly said to me.
“Dad, I’m not touching your chair, look.” My father looked down at the seat of my chair, which was a good seven inches away from his. “Dad, it’s your wife. Your DEAD wife, she’s saying hello.”
The chairs stopped rocking. Gracie and I rolled our eyes at each other as if to say, "Humans. Why don't they get it?"
After dinner Dad and I walked across the street to our condo. He looked so old at that moment, all eighty-six of his years engraved on every ridge of his face. His sadness scared me.
“Really, you weren’t rocking my chair?”
“No, Dad. Your wife never believed in reincarnation or the soul and I used to tell her she was wrong, that one day she would see.”
“Yeah, she really didn’t believe, did she?” he said with a small smile.
“Remember how I told her once, years ago, that when she died she would see that I was right and to send us a sign?” Dad mulled that over for a moment, his eyes suddenly filling with the memory as he stopped walking and turned to look at me.
“You told her to send us a sign when she made it to the other side!”
“You think it was her rocking the chairs?” he asked.
“Yes Dad, it was her, that was the sign; there’s something on the other side.”
Dad looked happy in that instant, knowing she had come to him. I never saw him that happy again.
When dead people come back to you, it's never bad, it's always good.
Dad died two years later and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.