The Alchemy of Death
“Cindy! The phone’s for you,” my friends called. This was unusual. I was in college and had just turned nineteen. I did not often get calls up there, in New Liskeard, 160 km north of North Bay. On the other end an unrecognized voice said words I will never forget: “Hello, this is your long lost Father.”
In some kind of limbo, I thought of my Dad and, partly stunned, I said, “My Father’s not lost.” Reaching around in my memory, thinking about my Dad at home who raised me and how this was not his voice, I remembered what was not high in my consciousness; that I had another “Dad”. My blood father.
It was quite something to be (re-)introduced to him, and my other half-siblings, already also quite grown, and to learn we had all grown-up in the same city, perhaps even played in the same parks! At first it was odd… getting to know them, and then it just became sweet. Life was so rich, and I was very grateful for my whole, very large family.
On May 28th, my phone rang. The display showed my natural Father’s home number. How surprising, and for a moment, exciting. Due to a family situation, plus the fact a family member was healing cancer (and as the primary care-giver he became very busy), I had heard and seen very little from him the past couple of years even though we live in the same city.
However when we did get together it was like no time had passed and there was only love and affection for and with the man who separated from my Mom when I was one-year-old. We bonded closely, taking walks, and talking, sharing meals, laughter and love. He was a communicator and an avid amateur radio operator. An interest in the science and hobby was sparked within me, and I took the course and also became a license radio operator. We shared many hours communicating across the city through the airwaves.
About six years ago Dad had a heart attack and then triple bypass surgery, a very serious and potentially risky operation. Another heart patient he grew to know in the hospital had the surgery before him, and passed-away afterward. This news was sad to Dad, but it never phased him regarding his own surgery and expectation of survival and recovery. Indeed, his recovery was amazing, and his health was strong and vibrant for many years, which enabled him to give selfless, loving care to his ill wife.
His positive outlook was a trademark for how he lived his life. It was such a part of him for so very long that even as a young man he wrote a poem called “Don’t Quit” which became very famously distributed world-wide, but as “author unknown”.
His education about the publishing business came through the school of hard knocks with this. He had sent his poetry to a publisher and never heard back. Then one day, the poem began to appear everywhere, on posters and bookmarks, etc. Feeling this was larger than him, with no way to reclaim his work, yet feeling good knowing it was doing good, he let it go.
He taught me to mail my work to myself, and keep it sealed with the postal mark and date in case it was ever needed to prove authorship. Somewhere there lies just such an envelop with his work.
Expecting to hear and welcome his long-lost voice, I picked-up the phone–and it was my brother. Why was he calling me from Dad’s? In a flash it registered as something was wrong. I expected to hear he’d had another heart attack and was in the hospital. But just moments before, Dad had transitioned and passed on. There was a blank moment. And then a sort of searching for him…was it true? Where was he? The instant I went looking, he was there, finally free now to visit. A deep peace settled in, and I knew he was ok.
That morning had already been odd, from the moment I got-up. There seemed no “reason” to do anything. I toyed with a few things and then had given-up on the day just before my brother called.
My attention turned back to my brother, who was telling me he had been present during the paramedics’ attempts to revive Dad, and being highly present myself I knew what was needed in the moment. And I knew why there was nothing of the to-do list to do that day. On one hand, nothing had changed, and on another, every thing was going to change. This experience of the apparent death was unlike any I have experienced before. There has primarily been peace, and even some joy.
Perhaps this is because I am personally at peace with the idea of bodily “death”, or perhaps because I know I am not the vulnerable, time-bound being who I used to think I was, and that neither is anyone else. I know that death is an idea.
People in our current society hold many ideas, most of which they are not aware of, which cause existential suffering. And so my response was “strange” (although welcomed) to most people around me. I look forward to sharing the insights the effects “alchemy” has had on my perception and experience of Dad’s transition with you in future articles.
One final time, through this apparent body, instead of Ring..Ring :
VE3WEH, VE3EQU (Me calling Dad.)…
73 (Best regards)
88 (Hugs and kisses)