Sitting in our lazy-boy chair, no further than ten feet from me in his signature black and tan checkered Pendleton wool shirt with the worn-out breast pocket from carrying sharp pencils there, his worn denim jeans with wide leather belt and lace-up Canadian ankle-high leather boots with glove leather linings, my Dad looked as happy, healthy and substantial as I remembered him when I was a boy. In his usual calm, clear voice he told me that our family’s financial difficulties would soon end; and they did. I was overjoyed to see him. I had so many questions to ask him.
During that same week, Dad walked past his favorite nephew on that young man’s first morning of work at the San Francisco Examiner newspaper and congratulated him with a big happy smile and his signature thumb against forefinger salute of approval. That nephew had attended Dad’s funeral when Dad had died on 28 April 1973, more than four years before either event.
In 1977 at age 44, that visit with Dad was the tipping point for me. Suddenly, all doubt faded away, and I became a firm believer in some kind of life after death. What else could I do? I was wide awake that evening and working on a business project, had not drank any adult beverages, and was not taking any mind-altering medications or recreational drugs. I was drinking ice water and snacking on oatmeal cookies.
During that past decade, Nora Greene, Anita’s mother, has briefly visited our home more than 30 times. We are always very happy to see her, often quite clearly at distances of about 4 to 20 feet as she glides so serenely through our home. Grandma Nora died on 26 August 1986.
Beginning just a few weeks after she died, I have been within 4 to 5 feet of my Mom, who loved to wear bright colored clothes, and apparently still does. She died on 29 January 2005. I was overjoyed to see the bright, colorful dress that she wore just before Christmas of 2012.
At the final rehearsal before a school play at Texas Wesleyan University, the stage manager asked a little old lady in Gay 90s attire who was sitting upfront in the fourth row – the only person seated in the theatre’s audience arena – to please leave because that was a “closed rehearsal.” The old lady looked blankly at the young man for a second or two and then, at a distance of about four feet, she slowly faded from a normal human form to an empty seat. Stunned speechless on the raised stage a dozen feet away, our daughter, Kathy, about a dozen other actors, the stagecraft crew, the theatre band and two TWU Theatre Department professors saw the entire phenomena under that theatre’s bright “house” lights. Anita and I were waiting outside and talked to several of the witnesses soon after that. The students were excited. The faculty was not. They had seen it all before
After many years of such random and usually welcome events, much like a laboratory rodent, I can only say with certainty: “All I know for sure is what happened to me.”
By the way, according to recent Gallup polls, about 34 percent of the population of the United States believe in ghosts (approximately 103 million people), and 78 percent believe in an afterlife (approximately 240 million people), although not necessarily life as we know it. Per chance, the concept of reuniting with loved ones in an afterlife is a comforting consolation after loved ones have passed on. That certainly works for me.