Life is busy and I’ll be honest, I may have overextended myself. Turns out, rediscovering yourself, exploring hidden talents, and following your dreams can be pretty exhausting. Throw in birthday celebrations (how did five million of my family and friends all pop out their momma’s you-know-hoosie in the spring? Must have been something in the summer water for years on end.), honeymoon planning, and the normal ins and outs of life and well, there are times when I forget my own name or, even worse, don’t feed the dog breakfast until some time around lunch.
We were traveling last week. That honeymoon referenced above. A little belated and lot COVID-affected but we did it and it was lovely. I shoved technology to the side, avoided work emails and generally just focused on the joy of spending some quality time with that man candy that is my husband. That is all to say, I ignored you people as well. Sorry about that.
But I thought about you often. Or rather, I thought about what I might say when I got back. And I promise, as always, there’s trouble brewing in this noggin of mine that I will offer in some form or fashion for you 32 readers to digest at your leisure. But first, let me preach on the topic of signs. What are they? What do they mean? Can we actually see them or are they a product of our subconscious just pointing out things that would have been in our path anyway?
Are signs like playing Beetle Bug? You never see those dang things on the road until you’re playing and then suddenly, it’s as if every town you drive through houses some Volkswagen super plant and they’re on every corner. They were always there but we weren’t seeing them. Isn’t that right?
So, does it minimize the power of signs when you’re looking for them? Do they mean something more when you’re not looking for them and they appear anyway? How the heck do you know the difference and does it even matter?
These are rhetorical questions for which I don’t think there are answers. Please don’t come at me with answers you ninny. That’s not the point. We’re talking signs … not pre-calculus. There are no rules.
I’m off on a tangent, please forgive. This post does have a point. It’s gonna come full circle. You just watch…
As I was saying, life is hectic. I’m distracted all the time. My lists have made little baby lists and I have big ideas yet time seems to tick tick tick by before I have made much progress. I worry that I’m not doing things fast enough or ‘right’ enough or with the right purpose and, for that matter, what IS my purpose?! All day long, every day. My mind and the clock make the same noise…tick tick tick tick.
But on the last evening of a beautiful week as I was sitting with my dear husband, eating Louisiana food in the heart of Tennessee, I was hit smack dab in the middle of my forehead with multiple “hello’s” from my Dad. I think of him all the time and occasionally, I can feel him nudging me this way or that…laughing at something I’m doing or just being proud in the way that only a Dad can be. And then there are times like Monday night when he doesn’t whisper his presence, he yells. He bellows in the way that only he was known to do.
It started with a whisper though. Dad loved oysters which I always found odd from a man that enjoyed milk with his chili. But that was the thing about Dad – he was full of surprises. As I sat there about to literally break bread, I looked at my plate and thought, damn, Dad would have really loved chargrilled oysters. I wish I’d had the opportunity to introduce him to this culinary treat. Tears welled but I smiled and pressed forward.
Then came a chat with the waitress about the history of the restaurant. She pointed to some original signage, dating back to the civil war. Sitting just under that sign were two benches, nearly identical to the one I have on my patio that Dad made out of Granny’s old dining table.
And finally the song.
That’s when I knew he was hovering about, smiling with approval at this life that I’ve been making.
Above the chatter and clinking and clattering of proverbial restaurant sounds, I heard the song. It was the song I picked to play last at his funeral and it’s a funny thing. Funny in that way that sad things sometimes are. Many people have heard it but you don’t often ‘hear’ it. It’s usually in the background or maybe played at a wedding. To my knowledge, I’ve never heard it at a restaurant before this past year but I’ve heard it half a dozen times while dining since he’s been gone. Not that it matters but the song is Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. If you’ve heard it, you know it’s hauntingly beautiful. Uplifting but still, somehow, a little sad.
I wasn’t looking for those signs. I wasn’t particularly keyed up or tuned in. But they were gifted to me and what a blessing to know that he’s still there. I wrap those moments up as I would a ticket stub or other memento from a special occasion. I want to be sure I hold onto those memories because when memories are what we have left, who cares what led us to them. Whether it’s chance, a sign from God, or a loved one giving you that gentle nudge – what it means is that we were loved and that we loved back and that’s what life’s all about.
I’d love to hear about signs you’ve seen or moments where you’ve felt the presence of a loved one – even if it was only a memory.
Oh and P.S., Dad wasn’t done at dinner. As we were in the final miles of our road trip back home the next day, a billboard loomed overhead and all it said was “Ray”. Or, at least, that’s all I could see. There may have been other words on that billboard but the only one that mattered to me was the one that loomed larger than all the rest – my Dad’s name.