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Can You Hear Me Now? Dusty Phone Reveals Dead Parents’ Message

I received a message from my parents on their phone the other day. Dad has been dead for more than a decade, and the eighth anniversary of Mom’s death is in July. But I got a message.


My parents’ phone. The number is blacked out in this photo to protect privacy, but the message to me was loud and clear.

I’m not talking about a message from beyond. I do not believe we should seek to communicate with the dead. At best, the purveyors of such messages are misled. At worst, they conjure evil spirits that pose as dead loved ones. However, I sympathize with mourners who seek connection.

I wanted connection. I especially wanted to talk to my mother about her death. I wanted to tell her I was sorry that I’d left angry. I wanted to tell her how much I love her.

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Daddy’s Filing Cabinet: When Parents’ Possessions Walk Us Thru Grief

Where do daddies keep their daughter’s handmade birthday cards? Or brochures of sports games they attended together at her college? May I suggest they keep them in their filing cabinets.toni2017-2

That’s where I found the ones my father kept. He stashed old utility receipts there, too, and appliance manuals and sermon notes and photo copies of funny cartoons.

I found my dad in the filing cabinet after he died. That’s the way I put it. I discovered and rediscovered small details of his life. Of him. Of us.

One thing I found in the filing cabinet after both my parents were gone was a draft of the note Dad wrote on my college scrapbook. With him dead, it took on new meaning.

“I love you so much – You may be out of my sight, but never out of my heart.”

You better believe I cried.

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My Enemy Parkinson’s: Dad’s Last Words To Me

The last day of his life, my father sat in the passenger seat of his van and struggled to control the muscles of his mouth. I listened carefully for words I’d recognize. He told me he was proud of me.

I will forever cherish that last message, no matter how garbled it came out.

Dad died of a heart attack a couple of hours later, but it was Parkinson’s disease that robbed him of the ability to fluidly communicate. It effected his gait and caused his hands to tremble but it was losing his ability to get a word out that really hurt him.


Dad and me with our dog in happier times, before Parkinson’s disease.

Today is World Parkinson’s Day, and April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Parkinson’s is a progressive condition of the nervous system.

The first sign of Dad’s problem was sluggish legs and a tremor in his right hand. Drinking from a glass became an impossibility. The liquid sloshed out. He used straws, and then a baby cup.

Parkinson’s is one of my enemies. It twisted the last few years of my dad’s life. He suffered. And yet, he managed to get to church the morning of his death. He didn’t allow illness to defeat him.

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One Great Thing I Learned

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ~ Mitch Albom

This quote sums up one great thing I learned about death. I cannot hear my parents anymore, nor my Uncle Karl, whom I lost one year ago tomorrow, but they speak into my life. I must listen with my heart.

I’ve got a lifetime of memories. A lifetime of lessons they put into me. I “hear” these. And the things they wrote down – oh goodness, a treasure. I can’t possibly remember everything. It helps when I see what they thought and felt on paper.

I will probably write about that more another time. I just wanted to pop in, give you a word, and let you know I accidentally published my last blog early. I hope I didn’t wake anyone last night!

Here’s the link to that post:

Have a great rest of the week. Thanks for following my blog. I’ll be back next week.




Uncle’s Letter Leaves Indelible Mark

He called me “doll.” He took me to see the Empire State Building when I was 16. He introduced me to art at the Peabody Museum at Yale. Years later, lying in a hospital bed at a rehab hospital, he told me I was like a daughter to him. But I was his niece. He was my last surviving uncle.

I wailed when I learned he’d died. It wasn’t just that he was dead. It was that I’d missed seeing him once more. Missed helping him into eternity. Missed saying goodbye.


My Uncle Karl and me at age 16 during my first visit to his and Dad’s hometown in Connecticut.

The first anniversary of his death is Friday the 7th. He lived to be 85. Society doesn’t make much of the loss of uncles and aunts. They don’t typically live in the same home with us. They aren’t in that tight family circle. Not a spouse. Not a child. Not a parent.

But like a parent. That gets overlooked sometimes. After we lose our mothers and fathers, they stand in the gap. They know all the good stories about our parents. They remember our early childhoods, too. They’re like mini-parents, especially after we lose mom and dad.

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Befriend Me: Relationship Transforms Grief & Outing After Mom’s Death

My mother lived a reclusive life, beginning about the time I turned 8. She left the house two or three times a year. Dad did the shopping. But when I got older, Mom ventured out every spring for our sale.

It’s the one thing we did together. After she got sick and then after she died, I found it difficult to go to the annual rummage sale. I missed a few times. Grief works like that. It twists pleasure into pain.ChurchSale (2)

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