82: Crossroads

82: Crossroads

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Crossroads

Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.

~Author Unknown

When I was twenty-five years old, my father died from a massive heart attack. He had turned sixty-one only two months before. It was the saddest day of my life. Not just because I lost one of my parents, but because I had lost my role model, my advisor, my friend—someone who had always been there for me, no matter what.

My dad was an early riser. Growing up, I could always count on him to have a cup of cocoa, a hot breakfast, and a helping of wisdom ready for me before I left for school. We were on the same wavelength; he would amaze me by knowing what I was thinking even before I said anything.

Fifteen months after my dad died, my husband and I celebrated the birth of Valerie, our first child. Almost three years later, our second daughter, Lisa, was born. My mother was overjoyed to have two beautiful granddaughters, and they loved her, too. What a pity my father and his granddaughters never got to know each other.

Years passed, and our daughters were in elementary school. It was a beautiful fall afternoon in southwestern Connecticut. Lisa, who was seven, had gone to a friend’s house after school. I finished work, picked up Valerie from school, and drove her home. This was Valerie’s last year in elementary school. Next year—middle school. Where had the time gone?

After having a snack, Valerie went outside to play with some of the children in the neighborhood. I did a few chores in the house and then went outside to rake some leaves. Down the street, I could see Valerie walking back home. As she spotted the freshly-raked leaf pile, she started running and took a flying leap right into the middle of it, scattering leaves everywhere. I flopped down in what was left of the pile, and we both enjoyed a good laugh.

I still needed to run to the store to buy a few things for dinner. “Let’s brush ourselves off. I need to go to the food store. After that, we can pick up Lisa.”

Valerie loved to sit in the front passenger seat when we went places together without her sister, so she hopped into the car for the five-mile drive to the supermarket. As we drove through our neighborhood, we chatted.

“Me and Lisa collected acorns yesterday. When Daddy gets home from work, maybe he can help us make ‘acorn men.’”

As I turned onto the road leading out of the neighborhood, Valerie chattered on about her plans for the rest of the day. I tried to listen, but something muted her voice. It was a strong and clear message, and it echoed through my mind: “When you get to the light, stop. Even if it’s green, don’t go.”

I approached the traffic light at the end of our neighborhood. The intersection was very dangerous and had been the scene of many car accidents. The light glowed green, but I slowed, the weight of the message pressing on my mind.

The light turned yellow and then red, and I came to a full stop. When the light turned green again, the message from earlier echoed: “When you get to the light, stop. Even if it’s green, don’t go.” I sat there, pressing hard on the brake. Nothing short of an act of God was going to move that car! Only seconds passed, but they felt like minutes. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my daughter looking at me as if I had surely lost my mind.

“Val, I know the light’s green, but I’m not moving this car.”

“Mom!”

“No! We’re staying right here!”

Just as the words left my mouth, a black Jeep Cherokee went speeding through the red light. We could see the driver holding her cell phone, oblivious to everything except her conversation. Again, my daughter stared at me, but her expression had changed from exasperation to shock.

“Mom, oh my God! How did you know? That car would have hit us right where I’m sitting!”

No one was behind us, so I continued to sit through two more light cycles as I composed myself and waited for my hands to stop trembling.

Finally, I said, “Val, you’re probably going to think I’m crazy, but I got a message while we were turning onto this street. The message said not to go through the light, even if it changed to green.”

“Mom, how could that be! Who do you think gave you the message?”

I didn’t even have to think about it; I knew exactly who it was. “Your grandfather. He’s still there for us.”

As I spent the evening watching my daughters play in the leaves and make acorn men with my husband, I looked up at the sky and knew that my dad was watching, too. And once again, I didn’t have to say a thing because he knew exactly what I was thinking.

~Michelle Tompakov Muller

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