Spiritual Encounter: More Than a Dream?
~ By Sharon, Deb’s mother
It is difficult to pick the exact wording or explanation for the experiences I had after my father died. Most people would just call them “dreams,” but this was much more than that. My story is unique in the fact that not only did I experience the encounters with my father’s spirit, but as you read on, you will find that someone very close to me did as well.
A little background is necessary to explain just how close my father and I were in this lifetime. My mother would often say that as a baby, toddler and even a young child that I would become overly excited to see my daddy walk in the door from work or where ever he had been – most times raising my arms up to him to be picked up. She said I didn’t react that way with her. She was often jealous of our relationship which she told me later on. Yet I do know I loved my mother and appreciated her. I didn’t want anyone else to be my mother.
However, I will admit that if I had to actually choose between them during the short time that I had both of my parents alive, I would have chosen my father. I found him to be very wise and loving. He and I would often sit outside under the stars and he would tell me many things I would not have been taught elsewhere.
I grew up in the 1950’s, what could be referred to “the nice and relatively easy time of life.” My father was a WWII Veteran, having served in the Army, attached to the Marines and was a Master Sergeant. Thus I was among the first wave of the Baby Boomers after the war.
Although I was the first born, I was not the only child. I have three younger brothers and the first one is only eleven months and one day younger than me. We had a household filled with fun and exciting times.
I grew up in what would be considered an upper middle class neighborhood with upper middle class benefits in the small town of St. Augustine. We had a maid named Dorothy that came everyday to our home and spent the whole day cleaning and cooking for our family of six. She was a beautiful black woman who was like a second mother to us. She considered me “her first baby,” as she never had children of her own.
It was after my twelfth birthday that things began to go south for me, literally. Although that birthday was full of fun and great memories, the following January in 1961 my dad suffered a near fatal heart attack that changed our world in a multitude of ways.
During his initial hospital stay, my brothers and I were sent in to say our last goodbyes. We were told not to cry in front of him, but our tears flowed regardless of the warning. Miraculously he lived through that first attack. The doctors were amazed, while I was grateful. Even when he was given his Last Rights, he survived. Whether it was on sheer determination or God’s decision, it just wasn’t his time yet.
After his lengthy recovery, my parents reluctantly sold our home and moved us six hours south to the largest city in the state: Miami. This city was where my father could continue his business without traveling. It was quite the culture shock, at least for me and mother. My brothers thought of it as a great adventure.
As a family, each of us in our own way eventually settled into this new and unfamiliar lifestyle. My father suffered three more heart attacks over the next three and half years. Each time his health put us deeper into financial debt. We moved three times in three and a half years.
I was now a teenager going to high school and finally finding my way and coming out of my naiveté and sheltered small town life. Each heart attack my dad suffered brought me back to reality that my dad could die at anytime.
Along with continuing to do well in school, I did everything I could to not make waves or cause my parents worry about me. I babysat for neighborhood kids to make my own money and worked part time after school in a real estate office.
Even in my teenage years my dad and I would still watch television together, and he would rub my feet as he had since I could remember. We were still close, but with so much more for him to worry about like his health and making a living, we did not spend time together as we did before his heart attacks, talking philosophically.
The dreaded day finally arrived.
I had recently found out that my father was concerned with me, his only daughter, having a steady boyfriend for over a year at the age of seventeen.
It was during Christmas break and my boyfriend had come over to tell me he got a 4F from his doctor which would remove him from the Vietnam draft. With my father being a WWII veteran, he was furious at my boyfriend for being so jovial and bragging that he received the 4F classification. (Apparently he had asthma as a baby. I never noticed any symptoms during the time I knew him.) Nor did it help that my dad did not really approve of him in general.
After my boyfriend left around five or six o’clock, my dad burst into a rage about his feelings and followed me into my bedroom and continued to berate and yell at me about him and his selfishness. I pushed him in the chest to get him out of my face; he grabbed my hair. Then suddenly he let go and grabbed at his chest. He stumbled backwards against my bedroom closet door. His last words were: “See what you’ve done to me!?”
He staggered out of my room and into the living room, collapsing on the recliner next to the Christmas tree. He slid out of the chair and landed on the floor under the tree. I was beyond shocked at what just happened, and could not believe that I was the cause of his demise. He was my favorite person in the world.
My mother immediately called for the paramedics and when they arrived, they worked on him at our home, near the Christmas tree and finally took him away in the ambulance. My mother went with them. I was absolutely hysterical. My grandparents lived with us but there was nothing they could do to console me. I cannot even recall what my brothers were doing or feeling.
Not long after, my mother returned with our doctor and looking at both of them I knew it was bad. The doctor took me into the kitchen, sat me down and told me they did everything they could, but he passed even before reaching the hospital. If truth be known, in my heart I knew he died right there under the Christmas tree. It is not a pretty sight to see someone suffering and die from a massive heart attack.
As later explained to me, with each heart attack he experienced, one of the four chambers of the heart was damaged. The fifth and final attack exploded his heart and he died rather quickly.
Again, as I said, it was not a sight I would wish upon my worst enemy, and the haunting memory of that fatal night is something I still live with, but with my father’s help, I eventually forgave myself.
All I remember at that moment was be inconsolably hysterical. The doctor and my mother led me to my room, he gave me a shot of sorts and I slept until the next morning.
Darkness fell early in December even in the south. The darkness of December 30th, 1965 will always be my darkest night of all.
The next several months after my father’s passing were quite difficult for everyone in my family. My brothers then ages 16, 11, and 9 were as upset and sad as I was. I believe we all went through the week of mourning, funeral services, and saying goodbye to family that came from all over, in a state of daze. There are very few memories of that first week.
Before I realized it, school started up again and while I went through the motions, I cannot say when or how I gradually returned to some normalcy in my life.
Unfortunately, my mother turned to alcohol to ease her pain, and she actually took on another persona under this influence. That is when she would boisterously and verbally blame me for my father’s death.
These horrible events would last until three or four in the morning, even though I had to get up and go to school at seven a.m.
Of course my grades dropped drastically and I was called into the school counselor’s office to find out what would cause such a sudden change in my academics. When I told them my father had died over the Christmas break, the lady was shocked and said, “We did not know. Your mother did not call to inform us.”
I defended my mother and told them that she was having her own issues with his death. We would be up until the wee hours of the morning, which was another reason my grades were slipping. Yet somehow, I was able to bring all of my grades back up to a respectable grade point average and in June of 1966 I graduated from high school.
Almost six months had passed but those months were not all uneventful. I got engaged in April to my boyfriend. I bought a 1954 used Chevy to drive.
It was at some point in this timeframe I began to have “dreams” of my father. I remember distinctly that my dreams would happen when I was most confused about what direction to take or what to do in a certain situation.
In my dreams, my father would suddenly appear by my side and we were often outside in a park or by the ocean. He would appear at different times – it would either be the morning with the sun just coming up or when the sun was setting.
We would talk endlessly, but I honestly cannot remember most of the conversations. However, one time I do remember I told him I was so sorry for pushing him.
He responded, “It was all in the plan.”
I knew he was not upset with me for the night he died, and felt some sort of relief.
Toward the end of every dream he would say, “I have to go now, but I will be back.” I always felt sad that he was leaving but so hopeful for when he would return.
When I woke from each of those encounters I felt at peace, and instinctively knew which direction to take or what I had to do to solve whatever issue was bothering me.
Once I started having the dreams of my father, I would tell my mother of the wonderful dreams I had with Daddy. She was always upset because she would say she only had nightmares about him. I decided to stop telling her about my dream encounters because her reaction was always negative and destroyed the happiness of my dreams.
My mother wanted me to marry my boyfriend because he was from old money. She began to help plan my wedding, discussing it at every chance she had. Was this reverse psychology? Either way, I started to question if this what I really wanted. Is this the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
At that point in my life, I was indecisive about breaking up with my fiancé. Again my dad appeared in my dream. I remember he stated that it would not be fair to me, or my fiancé to marry him based on sympathy or pity or fear. It would not turn out well if I did. I needed to be strong. He pointed out that while he knew this was hard for me to hurt someone’s feelings and emotions, this was not in the plan.
I eventually broke off the engagement with him. It was not easy to do, as this hurt him tremendously. I almost didn’t do it out of pity. Yet I recalled my father’s words from my dream encounter.
As my life progressed from full time student to full time worker, I did all I could to help my mother cope. Unfortunately, my help only made her more dependent on me and not stronger.
During one of his many visits I remember asking my father why he always had to leave at a certain time of the day or night. He told me that he could only visit with me between sunup and sundown, or dusk and dawn. At the sign of dawn or dusk he had to leave, but always said he would be back.
I thought that was odd but I did not question his reasoning. I do remember beginning to notice more and more the sunrises and sunsets, as it was a signal that he would soon leave again.
These dream encounters/visits went on for many years starting after his death when I was seventeen. Over the next few years, I met and married my husband. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl when I was twenty-two and purchased our first home. I recall watching my brothers grow into young men.
My grandparents were in a nursing home when I was twenty-three. That was another especially rough time for my mother as she was extremely close to her parents. My daughter was only eighteen months old at the time, and I had a part time job.
Again, I tried to assist my mother by driving her to visit them in the nursing home, thus making her more dependent on me. But I only ended up being burdened again by her daily demands. Her parents passed on within three months of each other.
I continued to have visits from my father until I was twenty-seven.
During that time, I felt that my life was on track and I was happy. As my encounters became less frequent, I felt increasingly compelled during our visits for my father to meet my husband. For some reason I did not worry about him meeting my daughter as I felt in my heart their souls had already met each other before she became my daughter. Again, however, I wanted him to meet my husband.
The last few times I would tell my father not to leave yet because my husband was coming and would be here any minute. He would say something like, “Not now, I have to leave and will be back,” or “It was not time yet to meet him.”
This happened at least three times that can I recall. As I mentioned, I felt happy and fortunate in my life at that time.
One night as both my husband and I went to bed, as we always said, “I love you,” we kissed and turned over on our sides to fall asleep.
Oh joy! My dad and I were together again!
This time was a little different as we were in a house, sitting in a living room, on a semi-circular sofa that faced the large front window of the house. In front of the sofa was a glass coffee table. To the left of us was the front door. Behind us was another large room that flowed naturally from the living room. There was an even larger glass window at the back of the room with lots of small panes of glass.
All of this, as in all of my dreams, was vividly colorful. My dad was wearing a green shirt, dark brown dress pants and brown loafers. We sat on the sofa for a while talking and I recall being anxious and excited as I again asked him to stay just a little longer because my husband would be arriving at any moment to meet him.
My dad responded, “I know.”
I was so happy and kept looking at my watch waiting… watching… and then the front door opened and in walked my husband. My father and I stood up, both men walking toward each other and they shook hands with huge smiles on their faces.
We then sat down on the couch and my father was in the middle of us. There was small talk and finally my dad asked me to leave the room because he wanted to speak with my husband alone. I balked a bit like a child might, but in an instant I found myself outside of the house looking in through the front window.
I watched them. My dad did most of the talking, but I could not hear what was being said. My husband would nod his head in agreement to whatever my father was saying.
In another instant I was back inside the living room. My father stood up and said, “I have to leave now. Everything will be all right. But honey, this time, I will not be back. I have to go and be with God now. I will see you again someday.”
I could see it was nightfall and to my right there was a huge thunder and lightning storm. It appeared the back of the house was over water.
As he backed away from me I began to cry and beg him, “But it’s not time yet, Daddy! No, Daddy! Don’t go! I’ll always need you! Don’t leave me, please! Daddy, no!”
He kept telling me it would be all right, that he would be with God now.
As he seemed to float toward the back window, to my left it seemed as if the sun suddenly began to rise. As it got higher in the sky, it was not just the sun, but an indescribable beautiful bright white light.
I started to run to him with arms outstretched, still begging him to come again, when suddenly my husband grabbed me around the waist, lifting me off the ground and pulled me away from my father.
I was hysterically crying and all I recall him saying, “It will be all right. Just remember that I am happy and with God.” He effortlessly went through the window and as he disappeared into the bright light, I could see his smiling face.
I woke up with tears streaming down my face. I was lying on my back (and I am not a back sleeper). I realized I was awake and I turned my head to face my husband. He was also lying on his back, awake with tears in his eyes. He reached for my shaking hand.
He turned his head to look at me and said, “I think I just met your father.”
I said, “Yes, you did!”
We held each other and cried.
Normally he does not dream, or at least remember his dreams. I asked him to tell me what he dreamt. His recall started when he came through the door and I was with my dad. He described how my father stood up to greet him and they shook hands. He further described everything I had just experienced.
Then he asked me, “Where did you go when your father asked you to leave?”
I told him, “I was just outside the window, but I could not hear anything. What did he tell you?”
My husband proceeded to tell me that my father said he was happy to meet him and he knew how much he loved me; that while life will have its ups and downs, we would be all right; that he would not be coming back to me from now on; that he knew with my husband’s love for me and my own strength I would be okay. My father told him he had to learn more. My husband said he was very emphatic not to let me touch him as he was leaving. He instructed him to do whatever he could to prevent me from touching him as he left; for if I did touch him while he was leaving, I would leave with him to the other side.
I was in shock and finally asked, “And that is why you grabbed me and pulled me back, to keep me from going with him?”
“Yes, of course.”
He also described the storm on one side with the light on the other side and seeing out over an ocean of sorts. He described the colors and how the rooms were, as well as what my dad was wearing. Everything was the same.
We were both stunned and in disbelief that we could have the exact same dream at the exact same time, with the exact same circumstances – EVERYTHING. The more we shared what we experienced, the more we believed this was not just a “dream” but a Spiritual Encounter.
After that glorious experience over forty years ago, I often begged as I would fall asleep for another encounter with my father.
I did not dream or encounter my father during my sleep until my daughter gave birth to my first grandchild – a baby girl, my first of three granddaughters. We are very close and love each other very much. We were kindred spirits, and still are, over fifteen years later.
I remember when she was about five or six months old, I dreamt about him again: I was feeding my granddaughter in an eat-in kitchen while she sat in a highchair. This time both my mother and father were there! This short soul encounter was sweet and loving for all of us. I just remember how much they both loved her. I was so happy that they were able to meet her.
My husband and I will be celebrating our 48th anniversary as I write this. We have raised our children – a daughter and two sons – and are very blessed with their presence in our lives. Between the three of them, they have given us six wonderful, adorable, and loving grandchildren: Three girls and three boys.
I once was afraid of dying, but after knowing and experiencing that life does not end when you leave the body that you are currently living in, I am no longer afraid. I don’t feel that I will be reincarnated after this life. There is so much yet to learn after this earthly life.
When it is my time to pass onto the other side, I will leave peacefully and embrace the bright light. I hope that I will be able to watch over and protect my loved ones when I am in spirit.