by PS Gifford
Two nights ago I went to bed as I always did.
I took up a hot milky drink and a good book and as my wife
drifted into her dream world, I drifted into the imagination of the
writer. At some pint, I became defeated on my battle to maintain
keeping my eyes open, and with the final remnants of my waking state
somehow managed to switch off my reading lamp and bookmark my book.
Typically, I am a sound sleeper. The only thing that ever
awakens me is a storm or my dog needing to go outside. But that
night I found myself wide awake. Fragments of the dream I had been
having still flashed in my minds eye.
I glanced at the clock. It was 3:30am. I desperately tried to
recall my dream which was fading by the second. I remembered faces.
Family faces. I remembered tears. I remembered black clothing. But
what I remembered most of all was a feeling of peace.
It is difficult to translate this feeling into words. I somehow
felt strangely tranquil. I instinctively allowed my hand to drop to
Tasha who was asleep on her bed alongside ours. As I scratched, she
wriggled contently in her sleep. My eyes managed to adjust to the
light and I could just make out the silhouette of my beloved wife
cocooned in bed sheets by my side.
Three and a half hours later the ringing of the alarm clock
sounded particularly harsh as it pierced the morning silence. I
abruptly awoke. I remembered I needed to take my father to an early
morning doctor's appointment.
My father, at 80 years old, has overcome some severe health
issues. He is well on the road to recovery although he has
difficulty getting about by himself.
At precisely 8am, on my third cup of coffee, I arrived at his
house. Traffic had been unusually light and I made it in ample time.
He was still getting ready.
As he got dressed he shared with me a curious thing that
happened the night before. He told me how at 3:25am he had awoken
and was so restless that he had gotten up and had a glass of milk
before returning to bed.
I suddenly recalled my waking at the same time.
Then it all became clear.
"You remember what day it is don't you?" he asked.
I stared at him blankly.
"It is the day that Olive and Frank get cremated."
I could not believe I had forgotten. Olive was his older
sister. Their passing had come as quite a shock. They were both
discovered dead at the bottom of the staircase in their home back in
England. They had apparently been that way for several days. They
were found after their son had called authorities to check on them,
after he hadn't heard from them for over a week.
The coroner report concluded that Olive had fallen off a stool
while attempting to change a light bulb. She had landed awkwardly
and had fractured her hip and several other bones, rendering her
unable to move. We can only assume that she called for Frank, who
was 85 and incredibly frail and battling many health issues. When he
went to investigate he must have suffered a fatal heart attack,
brought on no doubt by the shock of seeing her like that. They had
been married for over 60 years.
My father was naturally heartbroken by the news, as was I. We
had discussed flying over for the funeral services but the 11 hour
flight was much too risky in my father's state of health.
Because the coroner's report took some time, and because of
issues with their son, their only child who lives in the States, the
cremation was held back for an incredible two months.
My father continued. "The service commenced at 11:30am." He
looked at me solemnly and I gave him a hug.
Suddenly it all became remarkably clear. With the time
difference, that was the precise moment we both awoke the night
before. Perhaps, in some sort of spiritual way, part of us was there
Here is a poem I penned the day I heard the dreadful news of
Sixty plus years spent together -
With nary a single day apart.
Through fine times and the dire,
they stood by their sacred wedding vows.
They raised just one single son,
who fulfilled his dreams in the States,
six-thousand miles from Birmingham,
Where he was born and lovingly raised.
He is a success in each and every way,
Blossoming career, loving wife and three kids.
His parents were overflowing with pride
For everything their son had achieved.
Fifty years spent in the same house,
Which sheltered them from the elements.
Yet, despite its diminishing condition -
they stubbornly refused to ever leave.
Yes, sixty grand years spent together,
and a modest legacy to be proud off.
For they lived, essentially as one - able to
finish each others thoughts, with a knowing nod.
And now they have passed on as one
Unexpectedly and shrouded in mystery
From this earthly physical plane,
Carried up to the next spiritual level.
They were uncovered hand in hand,
At the bottom of their stairs,
several days after their passing,
by a shaken investigating police officer.
We don't know the cause of their demise
We will need to wait to Friday to discover,
the results of their scheduled autopsies
For the puzzling and elusive answer
Yet, I know those sixty years together,
were simply a beginning to their love.
For now, it is undeniably destined,
That they shall be together for all eternity.
-- PS Gifford <psgifford at earthlink.net>