When my Dad had his first heart attack I was about 5 years old. At that time, when you had a heart attack you got to stay in the hospital for a week or more and then you were allowed to stay out of work for six weeks. While my father was recuperating, he and I palled around. Just the two of us.
I remember a lot of that time we spent together. I'm not sure why it made such a huge impression on me except that there was probably much discussion in our home then about his near-death experience. I remember him vividly telling me about seeing his body on the table and how he was removed from his body. He felt like he was falling through a deep crevasse that was bright blue. I had never heard such concepts before in my limited years. The thoughts of, not only my father's near death, but also of the idea that the body and spirit were separate terrified and fascinated me at the same time.
During his weeks of recuperation, he took me all over. We visited the nuclear power plant in Haddam. (Back then you could actually go on tours to learn about nuclear energy!) We went to the Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill. He told me the family-famous story of how the day they announced on the news that fossils had been discovered near our home, he snuck over there under the cover of night and dug through the dirt until he found fossils to bring home to my sisters.
It was just the two of us on these day trips. Two adventurers, content in each other's company.
The most vivid memory I have of this precious time together was a discussion about the universe. Although I was quite young, my father spoke to me like I was his peer. I'm sure he used child friendly terms in this conversation but I was able to receive the advanced information and it stayed with me to this day. He explained to me that the universe has no end. This sentence blows my adult mind now just as much as it blew my tiny mind then. I remember asking him if it was possible that the earth was just a molecule in a glass of water in God's house. He said yes. We both pondered that thought for some time.
The strange thing that I am discovering now is, in exploring 'Course in Miracles', the thought I had over 35 years ago, may actually be true.
This one conversation with my father about the universe was the spark of my consciousness expansion. Not only was my father able to stretch my thinking, but as a devoted Catholic he showed me how to love God. He was a living demonstration that a man, a strong, intelligent and great man, could be Christ-like. He was graceful, happy, strong and loving.
During the end of my Dad's working years he was a janitor at St. Mary's of Czestochowa school in Middletown, CT. He often had to assist the priest with tasks at the church. One day the priest needed his help in the sanctuary. A new crucifix was being installed over the altar and the priest needed my father to take the old one down. I remember him feeling so emotional over carrying the 'body of Christ'. He had cradled this statue in his arms with such reverence. Just listening to him talk about it that day left me with an incredible feeling of Grace. It was something that I had never felt before at that point in my life.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Although his death was quick and unexpected, he knew he was going to die. He knew it was coming and he accepted it. This has angered not only me but both my mother and my sister's as well. We didn't know this until after he was gone and my mother was able to speak with his doctor. But now 15 years later, I think I have finally found peace.
I actually had a clue that he knew it was coming the Christmas right after his death. The Christmas before I had given him a book called 'Dad, Share Your Life With Me'. It was a 365 page book with a life question for each day. After he died, my mother found this book on his desk. He had worked on it all year to give back to me. He worked on more than one page per day. He finished it 3 weeks before he died.
And in the quintessential style of my father, on the last page he traced his hand. Next to his hand he signed it, 'Dad, 62 years young'.