How My Dad Became My Angel
By Sheri Leigh Myers
I lost my Dad when I was in my early twenties. He was only 50 years old when he died of a massive heart attack. I was devastated. He would never walk me down the aisle, never hold his grandchildren. I would never, ever see him again. A huge void yawned before me.
Death had swallowed my father.
But out there in snowy Ohio, I knew a psychic. A little old man who looked like Mahatma Gandhi and lived in a tar paper shack in Urbana. Warren had read the poodle-back deck of playing cards when I was on my way to England to study theater some years before. He was right on so many accounts. Even my great grandfather from New Hampshire came through and talked to me. Warren had a pipeline to the Other Side. Now my father was suddenly gone and I needed to reach him, to ask, “Daddy, where did you go?”
In the middle of a snowstorm, I found Warren’s place and knocked on the door. He was not surprised to see me. “You’re father’s passed on.” I nodded. He waved a thin arm, directing me to his formica-topped kitchen table where the poodle cards were piled, waiting.
As I shuffled the deck, thinking of my loss, Warren spoke up. “He wants you to know he’s with Harold. And he’s sorry he didn’t buy more life insurance, he didn’t believe in it.”
I asked Warren. “Ask Daddy why he didn’t take better care of himself.” He defended, telling Warren that he thought he looked pretty snappy there at the end. (And he did. He was working Christmas break at a sportswear store.) But the wonderful Coach Fred Myers and Dad that we all loved had a bad ticker. With his first heart attack at 40 and the last at 50, chewing nitroglycerin like aspirin at the end, it was both untimely and logical that he would depart this earthly plane.
Nothing could have saved him except a heart transplant. Maybe. Then Daddy told Warren to tell me that I should tell mom that she should fall in love and marry again. “Don’t be lonely.” I filed that advice for a much later communication with my grieving mother. There he was, on the other side, asking me to tell people things. Strange information, like I had no idea he loved to read books about psychics. But he didn’t like letting people in our small college town know that he believed in all that. Fred Myers was a renowned soccer and lacrosse coach at Ohio Wesleyan University, a mentor and substitute father to his players. He’d always kept that mystical part of him tucked away for his late night reading. I wished I’d known. “So, now you do,” I could hear him saying. “What are you going to do?”
I drove home slowly, wondering how this extraordinary encounter was going to sit with the rest of my family.
Back in Delaware, Ohio, at our split level, I found the inner circle of parents and sisters and brothers and adult children, who’d jumped on planes or driven at a blistering speed to get there. Now they were parked around the living room table, quietly looking at photos of my father. Like at an Irish wake, family and liquor were within easy reach. I told them Daddy was with Harold. I found out that Harold was his WWII running buddy, who’d already passed away. This news from the Other Side was disconcerting to some, but my grandmother Lavina piped up, “Oh, I know Rick’s right here. Right now. He’s watching.” She repeated that later, when she saw our cat Pansy curled up in my father’s chair. Just the night before, just like always, Daddy sat right there and put his feet up on the ottoman to watch TV. I’d never witness that comforting sight again, or lie on the sofa next to his chair and watch sports just to be in his presence.
I believed, I felt he was there, through Warren and the poodle cards. But I didn’t have the secret code to grant access to the Beyond. I returned to my life in New York City with a gram of comfort and a ton of grief. I thought I passed Daddy on the street. I thought I saw him everywhere. I found another psychic who said, “Oh, your Dad’s here, oh, he’s wearing his officer’s uniform. Oh! And he has wings!” She smiled at the inner sight. It was another mind-blowing dialogue. He told me he was so glad I had his matchbox. It’s true, I carried his antique silver matchbox, where he stashed his nitro pills in cotton. I was glad he was giving me a sign that he was there. We “talked” more
about my mom, and his desire to see her happy. He was happy I was marrying, but with some reservations. He knew I was engaged. Wow, he was paying attention.
I carried the reassuring experience of his spirit with me for some time after that. Then it just fell away. I got married, had a child, and divorced. There wasn’t time or money for psychics; for any of That Stuff.
Then I heard what was going on back in Ohio.
Dan, the sturdy Harley-riding retiree who’d moved in with his blonde wife, was reporting all kinds of “disturbances” around the house.
He’d been inspired to take up woodworking and carpentry, since our garage was all tricked out with workbenches and tool holders from the Fred years. One night, Dan went to bed with his tools spread in disarray, and the next morning hefound them all lined up and squared away where they belonged. (One of my dad’s favorite expressions, “If you use it, put it back where it belongs.”) That was the beginning.
Dan told us that he felt an energy come through him as he worked. Sometimes he smelled cigar smoke waft over him, and there wasn’t anyone nearby. Dan began to build things he really didn’t know how to build: an above ground pool, a back deck, exterior stairs. All the projects my Dad had left undone.
One day Dan was fixing the ceiling tiles in our kitchen. He’d placed a jar top holding the screws he needed on the dining table. Three times, when his back was turned, the jar top would skiddle over and fall off the table. Dan picked up the screws for the last time and put the jar top smack in the middle of the table. Then, he took a seat, to calm his nerves. Moments later, the door from the house to the garage, opened and shut.
There was one night, when Dan and his family were sitting at dinner. They heard sounds coming from the spare bedroom they used for the visiting grandchildren. (My dad used to nap there.) When they went upstairs and opened the door, they saw a couple of the kids’ toy cars, remote-controlled, zooming in circles around on the floor. The cars immediately rolled up to the door and stopped.
When my mother sold the house, all the furniture went with her to Florida. Dan’s wife found a small white envelope taped to the back of a drawer in her own bedroom chest of drawers, On the front was written, “Sylvia,” my mother’s name. Inside, was a dime store wedding ring.
After a period of years, all these kinds of “disturbances” became just another part of life on Marion Court. Dan and his wife were very welcoming when my mother and two brothers visited, and took them all around the house to show off his carpentry work, and talk about Daddy and his mischief. My eldest brother was having the hardest time accepting that it was anything “real.” But as they were walking out of the house, the carbon monoxide alarm starting screaming. Nothing had changed.
The carbon monoxide alarm was a signal that just a few years later, would figure in a dramatic episode that saved Dan’s life.
But first, I want to share one of my own experiences with my father’s spirit. One Sunday morning, my husband (also a Dan), was sitting at our kitchen table inour bungalow in West Los Angeles, reading the Sunday sports section. I was making breakfast. Suddenly I felt an overpowering urge to fetch the small wood box that had once belonged to my Dad. Now it sat in our bedroom, and held my letters from my father when I was studying abroad, and newspaper clippings I’d saved from my father’s storied career as a soccer coach at Ohio Wesleyan University. One by one, I pulled out the yellowed articles and showed them to Dan, and talked about my father’s accomplishments: Ohio College soccer coach of the year (twice), his teams’ NCAA small college division victories, where they’d nearly won the national title… on and on I bragged, not even knowing why I was bringing it up. Dan listened patiently and nodded, and let me do my monologue. As I was placing the wood box back in the bedroom, my husband called out,
“Honey, look at this!” I ran in and Dan pointed to a small UP article in the sports section. My father’s soccer team, now coached by his protégé Jay Martin, had just
won the national NCAA Division III title, on the field where my father had coached at Ohio Wesleyan. I knew he was telling me something I needed to know; that our victories will come, if we never give up.
Finally, here is the event that I feel changed my perspective from “My Dad the Visiting Spirit” to an Angel. Dan, the man who lived at our house, had lost his eldest son to a brain tumor. It was a dreadful, painful time for Dan’s family. Two years later, on a cold, snowy December day, Dan was up on the roof, struggling to put up the Christmas lights. He thought about his son who died, and was overcome with rage. He stood up, and shook his fist at the heavens and yelled, “My son should be here with me!” Moments later, Dan moved to come down from the roof, the ladder fell away, and Dan plunged to the patio some 10 feet below. There he lay on the concrete, half his body broken from the fall, in the cold, with the dog inside, and his wife at work.
His neighbor Jack (who had seen my father passed out behind the wheel of his car on that snowy day that he died, and tried unsuccessfully to revive him) was sitting in his house across the street. The night before, he’d been awakened by the scream of his carbon monoxide alarm going off, for no reason. Now, it just occurred to Jack to go over to Dan’s and see what he was doing. Jack walked over and knocked on the door. No response, just the dog barking. Then, it occurred to Jack to go around to the back and look over the fence. There he saw Dan. Jack called 911. Dan was rushed to the hospital. His injuries were so severe, that there were two seven-hour surgeries required to try to piece him together. During the second surgery, Dan told me that he felt himself whooshing out of his body, and heading for a bright white light. As he moved to the light, he saw his deceased parents and his beloved son, greeting him. When Dan looked up, he saw a magnificent light, and a form in a doorway, and he heard the words. “Believe in me, and you will have everlasting life.” Immediately, Dan was whooshed back into his body. In the hospital room, his family was overjoyed to see that Dan was stirring, that he in fact was waking up. Dan came to, and kept exclaiming, “He’s here. He’s right here.” Dan saw his son who had passed, sitting in the corner, watching him. In an effort to calm Dan, one of his family asked, “Dad, what does he want? Why is he here?” Dan relied, “He wants you to know that I’m going to be okay.” His son’s form disappeared from Dan’s sight.
I could go on and tell you about another night, very recently, when I was compelled to put up my Buddhist prayer scroll (after several months of inactivity) and stay up for hours to chant while my daughter’s boyfriend was driving through a terrible storm to fetch her from the airport. It wasn’t my idea to stay awake and pray, I was just following a strong directive from somewhere else. But when my daughter called me, to tell me that her friend had been in an accident, that his car had skidded on a patch of oil and spun into an oncoming semi and that her friend walked away from his totaled car with just some bruises…
But that’s all I have time to share for now. I just want to close this with my wish that any of you who have lost someone they love, might consider the possibility that you can find that spirit looking over and protecting you.
That’s what Angels do.
Onward, with love,
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