by Karen Lee Sigler
I was half my dad’s age when he began talking to me about life. I, in my late 30s, and he, 60-something and newly retired. With time on his hands, picking me up in the afternoon from my teaching job became a welcome part of his day. He lived 2 blocks from my school, although “convenience” never seemed to be the real reason he initiated our mid-day routine.
During these drives back to my apartment, our adult relationship emerged. We spoke of many things. Out of the blue one day, he asked me "How will I know mommy (my mother) or my brother or mother in heaven? Will they be old and sick like they were when they died?' He asked me these questions as if I knew the answer. I was stunned uncomfortable with this line of questioning. But he was serious and I needed to provide him with an answer.
I said only happy images would appear since we no longer had bodies. Our loved ones were in the shape and time of how we wished to remember them. They will look the way they were when at their happiest. For instance, grandma’s heaven was apple-picking time, for she told me that was her happiest place. I also told him I thought that I would recognize him by the way he smelled after a day at work (Mounted Police always smelled like horses). We laughed!!
He liked my response and was very relieved. It was a good conversation, a happy conversation. Since then, every time I hear Clapton’s no Tears in Heaven on the radio, I tip my hat and smile. For the lyrics offer me enormous comfort in his absence.
I hope everyone takes the time to have a conversation just like I did with people who matter most in life. Don’t wait. It’s healing and wholesome and worth a moment of discomfort.