My father didn’t believe in an afterlife. By his way of thinking, when you died, that was it. One minute you’re here, the next minute you enter the darkness: no heaven, no chance of ever seeing your loved ones again, so you’re lucky if you lived a good life and got to say goodbye before they turned out the lights.
We didn’t talk about those things too much. Religion and God were almost taboo subjects in my house growing up. So I thought it was pretty cool last year when after one of my mother’s good strong margaritas on an empty stomach, I actually got into a discussion with my dad about life after death. His opinion about the afterlife hadn’t changed, but over the past year and a half, since the death of my step-daughter Susan, mine certainly had. Several evidential readings with mediums had proven to me that our spirits live on after the change we call death.
Dad was too much of a gentleman to tell me he thought I was crazy. He just sat there sipping his “Margaret” and shaking his head at my “silly notions” that our bodies were occupied by a spirit that continued on eternally.
“Why would I want to live forever?” he asked. At 92 he was getting kind of tired.
Even when I explained that the Other Side wasn’t like it is here in the physical world – that it’s far more beautiful, suffused with love, and free of the aging body, he didn’t want any part of it.
“But wouldn’t you want to spend eternity with Mom?” I asked. After 61 years together, their love was stronger than most couples ever hope for.
He reached over and patted my mother’s knee. “Your mother and I have enjoyed every day of our lives together,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for more than that.”
But I knew that he could. Susan had sent us too many signs in the days and months since her death to ignore the fact that she wasn’t still around.
“Dad,” I said, “One day I’m going to meet you on the Other Side, and when I do, I’m going to greet you with a big hug and say, ‘I told you so!”
He gave me a tolerant smile, and we left it at that.
My dad, Bill Smeltzer, died on January 15th of this year. My mom and all three of his kids were at his side, touching him and telling him we loved him as he took his last breath. I couldn’t help but look around the room in those painful moments and wish I had a medium’s gift. With my limited physical senses I wasn’t able to detect his spirit as it left his body. Within minutes it was clear that his spirit no longer occupied the body that had lovingly housed him, and we were left with mere memories.
I waited almost two months to consult with a medium. I spoke to Susan and my dad often, but in the days prior to the reading I meditated and sent them a very clear message that they would have an excellent chance to communicate with me through a gifted helper. I asked them to be there.
The medium wasted no time.
“There’s a gentleman here who was pretty sick,” said Janet, who knew nothing about my father or his recent death. “He had some kind of manual job around coal.”
Even if she had met my dad, it was unlikely that Janet would have known that decades earlier, when he first started working on the Pennsylvania railroad decked out in striped coveralls and cap, he’d shoveled coal on those ancient black steam engines.
“Was this pretty recent?” she asked. “Because this is not an old passing. It feels pretty recent. There’s something about William… or Bill…”
That would be my dad. His real name was Oliver, but he went by Bill.
“Did you write some kind of poem or a letter at the end?”
No, I didn’t, but my brother sure did.
“He’s acknowledging that it’s very, very important to him,” Janet said.
My eyes were now brimming with tears. That poem had meant so much to my mom that she’d copied and framed it for the family. Now everyone would know that Dad had “read” the poem, too.
Dad went on to tell the medium that my mother was wearing his wedding ring. (She was) And that she was talking to his picture. (All the time) And that she somehow blamed herself for his passing. (She did, although we all tried to tell her not to)
Janet was getting a very clear message from my father: “She has to stop beating herself up about that. There was nothing she could have done. When it’s your time, it’s your time.”
Dad was interrupted then by the spirit of a young girl who had died rather suddenly a couple of years back.
It was my Susan. She never let me down.
“Why was there some delay when she died?” Janet asked. “About someone finding out? delay… delay…”
That would be because Ty and I were off on our sailboat and no one could find us for two full days to share the devastating news.
Janet was batting a thousand, but Susan’s story is one I’ll save for another day, as it was the impetus for this blog.
Meanwhile, Dad’s spirit was still hanging around, and he had more things to bring up, like the stack of silver dollars and the oversized Indian nickel that Janet said looked like a large medal. I’d just been to my parent’s home, and that large coin with an Indian head was sitting on my dad’s dresser. My mom had just mentioned the silver dollars the other day.
I’d heard that Janet was a highly evidential medium, meaning that she passed along evidence that only the loved ones would know. Now I shook my head in awe: the coins, the poem, my mother’s behavior … I couldn’t have asked for more poignant evidence that this medium truly was communicating with my father on the Other Side.
Time was running out, and there was one thing I had to know.
“Is he surprised that there’s more?” I asked. It was obvious from the evidence Janet had given me, that my father was not in the world of darkness he’d long envisioned.
There was a pause as Janet passed along my question, then she responded. “He says it was like an ‘aha’ moment, so I don’t know that I want to say ‘surprised.’ It’s almost like he feels contentment.”
And that’s what I felt as I hung up the phone. Sheer contentment. I miss my father terribly, but now I have my proof that his spirit is around, and that he’s happy. He hears my mother when she talks to him, and I know he hears me, too. He showed up for our appointment, didn’t he?
I passed along his messages to my brother and sister, and to my mother. Back when we sipped those margaritas and had our discussion about life after death, my mom remained mostly silent. I sensed that she wanted to believe, but after 61 years with my dad, their beliefs, like their lives, had almost become one.
In the days following his death, I encouraged her to talk to my dad, and she had.
Good thing, because he’s been listening. He’s around. He loves us just as much from the Other Side as when he was here beside us.
My mother’s energy increased dramatically in the days after hearing the evidential messages from that reading. She’s had a spring in her step that none of us had seen in quite a while.
“I feel more at peace than I have since your father died,” Mom told me.
And that, my friends, is the whole point of consulting a medium.