10-22-2023 – Granddad Willie

Happy Sunday!

“A flower must turn itself inside-out to show its beauty.” ~ Mark Nepo

Mom transitioned on October 11th. Last Sunday was the viewing at the funeral home. I decided to share with the family my experiences of the last few months with Granddad Willie. Here is what I said as my eulogy:

It is lovely to look at all the photos of Mom with all the generations of her family.  My thoughts have been on someone we have no photo of here. I’ve never seen one.

The person who has been on my mind for several months has been Willie, Mom’s father. Back in May, when I sat with Mom who was so sick at the time, she spoke with her father. Daddy. In June, she surprised us once again and recovered. Meanwhile, I kept thinking about Willie.

Also on my mind, there was a question I was not bold enough to say even to myself. Then, one day in July, I listened to an interview by an end of life medium. She said she asked this question of the dying. “Why are you still here?” This is what I wanted to know from Mom.

The title of a poem entered my mind. I sat down at my desk to write, and let the poem tell me the story. Here it is.

But … can you come back to me?

A poem of healing for father and daughter.  By Tricia Bates Smith, 7-31-2023

You left when I was so small, leaving a bitter mother and a loss of childhood. 
He’s no good is all I heard of you. 
I worked so hard to make up for being your daughter. 
I didn’t like you, but still I wanted you to come back to me.
By the grace of God, I made it through childhood, 
found a good man and soon had children of my own. 
The tough questions came from my little ones – where’s grandpa? 
I acted like I hated you. But, deep inside, I wanted you to come back to me.
I grew strong as a woman of faith, with great Love for Christ Jesus. 
I sat in religious classes and learned of forgiveness. 
I thought of you often but could only bring myself to indifference. 
You were the deep pain that could be healed, only if you came back to me.
Now I’ve taken to my bed as I near the end of this life. 
I pray to God for mercy and to bring me peace. 
This body holds on, it feels things are unfinished. 
I thought you were behind me, but my soul says to call you back to me.
I’m ready Daddy. I’ve done the things I should with this life. 
In my dreams you are there looking so different from who I saw. 
Your smile so broad and bright as you stride along the sidewalk toward me … to take me home. 
I am ready to Love … now that you have come back to me.

Since July, I’ve been feeling uncertain of this poem. Did it really have any meaning. I felt it, but was uncertain — is it all just a story I made up?

Today, I feel more certainty. This is because this past Wednesday morning I woke up before dawn. I laid in bed saying my prayers and being in meditation.

A face appeared before me. It was a younger man who was definitely Irish. He turned to look at me, eye to eye, and stayed before me long enough for me to say, “Hello. Do I know you?” He just looked at me and then left.

Later that morning, after Mom had passed, I was with [my sister]. She mentioned dreams that she was having and the memory of his appearance came to me. I felt tingles. I told her I had a visitation before dawn and she said, “Willie” before I could tell her. My tears fell as truth flowed through my body.

It was Willie. He came for Mom and she went. I am going to say something now that I have never said before … Granddad Willie, welcome.

I feel very blessed, and grateful for the healing in our family.

When I finished the room was quiet. I received hugs from my husband and kids. A few minutes passed and I tried to busy myself looking at photos to settle the shaking feeling inside. My nephew and his wife came over to me. She told me that at the moment I said that ‘Willie came and Mom left’, sunshine filled the large room. For me, it’s another sign of love and support.

Now I feel respect for the man who I never knew and only heard negative things about. Therefore, I choose to show respect by saying Granddad Willie going forward. I too will see his face once again.

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