Columnist: Life, death and S hooks
Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 21, 2016
There have been many books, testimonials and arguments about life after death. About heaven and hell, about God, about believing or not — and the truth is, there always will be.
It is my sincere belief there is a God and life after death. I was taught to believe in both, but I am confirmed in my belief by things I have witnessed in life. This truth was sealed by a wickedly funny brother and some S hooks.
How many times in our lives have we had something surreal, coincidental or mysterious happen to us? How many times have we tried to reason it sane, or swept it under a rug?
How many people have you met or talked to that said their mother, brother or sister had talked to them in a dream or in a room after they departed this earth?
Yet, you ask folks, and they still are not sure that heaven exist. Skeptical, cynical, scared — who knows why. I can tell you one thing for sure, death will happen.
It happened to my brother. Out of the blue, he was stricken with cancer at 52. He was almost seven years older and always 70 years smarter than I was. An engineer, a lover of all things political and dedicated to his love of the Navy.
A Vietnam veteran, a father of two and a defender and protector of his only sister. He and I were about as different as we could be but we loved one another immensely.
Before my brother died, after a nearly three-year illness, he was not able to walk. He would sit in his big recliner, look out the window and watch the red birds eating seed out of his bird feeder. He would laugh at how they would vie for the seed, flutter their wings and spread their silly joy into his space.
I don’t remember John loving to watch birds before his illness, but when life’s door is closing, I would think you are desperately searching for earth’s living treasures. Things that have been there all along the way, but suddenly you see them now as little gifts to ease your burdens.
In the early hours of an April morning in 1998 John Walker took his last breath. In some corner of my mind I can envision the red birds accompanying his flight toward heaven.
When I went back to my work after his death, my friends gave me a birdhouse.
“We wanted to give you something you would treasure to remember his love.” A wonderful gift.
A few weeks passed and one Saturday I decided it was time to hang my birdhouse. It was made of old wood and looked like a little rustic house. There was a Japanese magnolia right off my rocking chair front porch. I would hang it there.
I went to the garage to get chain and an S hook to hang it from the limb of the tree. I had a workbench, with a pegboard above, tools hanging and little cubbies for tacks, nails, brads, screws, etc., and S hooks.
To my frustration, I could not find the S hooks! All I needed was one and I knew they were there!!
“I am not going to Home Depot for one S hook”, I yelled aloud!
“John, if you want me to hang this birdfeeder, then tell me where the hooks are!!!!”
Suddenly, I felt something fall all across the top of my feet. I looked down. My feet were under the bottom shelf of the workbench where I stored old tools and some baskets.
A basket had fallen on my foot, but I had not touched the shelf. The basket was filled to the brim with S hooks. About 50 or more were now all over the floor and on top of my feet.
For a moment, I stared, then I laughed. If I tell you that was my brother, that was my brother! He knew I would have to pick the 50 or so up to get one! I could hear his laughter mixed with my own and I knew he was alive and well and still full of his wicked sense of humor.
Through the years there have been many “glimpses” of my brother and others that have gone on to another life. I have learned to be open to the miracle of death and the life after it.
Every spring I would ask my best friend and coworker, Krista, what day my brother died. She would say “April 29th.” I think I asked so many times, she wrote it down.
“I don’t know why I can’t remember the date!” I would exclaim. She was the best at helping me remember things and laughing with me through life.
A few years later Krista died at 52 of cancer. A true joy left this earth. As I sat in her church to bid her farewell, tears streamed down my face. I opened her program and because grief is consuming, I had not noticed that she went to another life on April 29th.
She knew I would never forget the date again.
You may say that all of this is a coincidence, a mystery. I say it’s God whispering to us that life continues through Him.