17: The Messenger Daughter

17: The Messenger Daughter

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

The Messenger Daughter

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.

~Corrie Ten Boom

“Go home!” the voice in my head commanded. I heard it as clearly as if someone were standing next to me. I didn’t recognize the voice, and yet it was authoritative enough to make me rethink my schedule.

Again, the voice demanded, “Go home. Go home!”

I apologized to my friends who had made luncheon arrangements to celebrate my upcoming wedding, explaining that something urgent had happened. I had no clue what to expect as I raced home, but I knew something was wrong.

My dad was home recuperating from the amputation of his right leg, so I was imagining the worst. Despite his faith and his indomitable spirit, his diabetes was slowly taking its toll.

He never complained. He was a proud man, a hard worker, the best father, and someone who always lent a helping hand. He never made much money, but we always seemed to have whatever was necessary to make us happy and comfortable.

I saw my father’s face in the front window as I pulled into the driveway. He looked good, but now I felt a little sick. Did I just imagine this voice? Was this some kind of mind game or pre-wedding panic? After all, I was getting married in two weeks.

As I walked through the front door, my dad looked surprised. “What are you doing home?” he asked. “I thought you were having a special lunch with your friends.”

I didn’t want to upset him, so I said that I hadn’t really felt like going. He accepted my story as part of “wedding day” anxieties. I was relieved to find him well but still confused by the power of the haunting voice I heard earlier.

“Well Dad, let’s have lunch,” I said as I made my way to the kitchen.

“Sounds like a plan,” he responded. “Let’s split a sandwich. I’m not too hungry today!”

He rolled his wheelchair to the table as I made our sandwich. As we ate, I noticed how good he looked, with clear eyes and good skin color. He was as handsome as ever. We talked about my wedding and his plan to use his prosthesis to walk me down the aisle.

He wanted to wear a white suit instead of the gray tuxedos the men were renting. “I just see myself in a white suit. Would it bother you if I didn’t wear gray?” he asked.

“Dad,” I said, “you can wear whatever makes you comfortable.” He gave me one of his big smiles.

And then, for some reason, I blurted out, “Dad, do you ever fear dying?”

It was a question totally out of context. Yet, he answered without hesitation: “No, never. I’ve had many close encounters with death throughout my life, but I’ve lived long enough to see all four of my children grown and capable of taking care of themselves. I’ve had an incredible job, not much money, but I’ve traveled all around this beautiful country and made so many friends. And then, there is your mother, my best friend and lover of forty-one years; she is my lifeline and we are blessed to share an incredible love.”

He paused and smiled. “However,” he continued, “the most important reason I don’t fear death is that I will see my mother again. I was only nine months old when she died. They say she held me in her arms as she took her final breath. I never got to know her, but I know when I take my final breath she will be there holding me again. That will be some reunion!”

Trying to hold back tears, I thought how blessed I was to have such a treasure of a father. With a hug and a kiss, I quickly cleaned up our dishes and headed back to work. I was thankful that I had that quick lunch with my dad.

That Friday night, my whole family was running crazy. Mom and my younger brother rushed out to pick up a pizza and get a car from the repair shop. Mom and Dad blew each other kisses as she hurried out. My sister and I were home with my father, talking on the phone with my older brother.

My dad pointed to a wedding gift that had arrived for me from a dear friend who loved to play practical jokes. The box was huge, and as my sister and I began unwrapping what seemed to be reams of brown paper, we were interrupted by a snoring, gurgling, awful sound. We looked up and saw Dad slumped in the chair, unconscious. My sister called 911 while I ran frantically up and down the street for help. One of our neighbors, a nurse, attempted CPR without success.

I went in the ambulance with my dad and I noticed, with concern, that we were moving slowly and with no siren. That told me he was already gone. The medics did take him into the hospital though, and it took another forty-five minutes before a doctor came out and told me what I already knew.

There lay that beautiful man, with one hand still open, inviting me to grasp it. It was then I remembered the voice that ordered me to “Go home!” Now I understood why. Miraculously, I had that conversation with him over lunch, when he revealed that he was not afraid of dying and that he believed he would be reunited with his mother. I would be his messenger for the rest of the family. I closed my eyes and saw my father dressed in his white suit, his mom embracing him, and I knew Dad had heard a voice calling him to go home, too.

~Lainie Belcastro

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