In 1994, I invited my 80-year-old widowed father to move from PA. to CA. to live with me. The spontaneous invitation came straight from my heart. I had no idea how I’d accomplish this because, at 50 years old, I was feeling worn down by life, on 2 sleeping medications & I was living in a 1 bedroom apartment. But you don’t have to know how something will happen. What’s necessary is to make a commitment and the how will appear.
Shortly after, while enjoying dinner with close friends, I told them about the invitation. They immediately began to question my sanity & I found myself defending my decision. “I want to be there when he dies!” When that statement came out of my mouth, I was as shocked as they were because I had no idea I felt that way. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. But I recognized the shear truth of it as the whole table fell silent.
When Dad got off the plane, he looked like an old man who’d been sitting in front of the TV with his twice-widowed brother for the previous 2-3 years. We bought a 1914 hand-crafted cottage badly in need of renovation. We needed a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home close to town because I needed a private office to see clients and Dad needed his own bath. But all we could afford was a 2 bedroom, 1 bath. I saw the whole remodel in my mind before we put in the offer. There was a small bedroom and old-fashioned kitchen in the back of the home separated by a middle door from a second bedroom, (that would become Dad’s) a large living room & old bath with a clawfoot tub in front. If we moved the kitchen appliances into the front under 2 large windows, I could convert that ideally situated room into my private office. When the middle door was closed, Dad would have his own apartment in front. Later we could build a master bath onto his bedroom.
After working on the home for 6 months, Dad looked and felt 20 years younger. He felt needed and useful again and took 2 walks a day. I was able to get off the old meds & come back to life so I could take care of him. Remodeling that home became a metaphor for the transformation we each went through and our relationship together. I learned that when you give someone what they need most, you get what you need along the way. Because I wanted to give Dad a loving home, I received a beautiful home filled with love.
We also had fun. I took him to afternoon tea dances twice/month because he loved to do a good foxtrot. When he died, he’d been dancing foxtrot for 60 years! I had gotten my love of ballroom from my father who taught me foxtrot in our living room when I was 12.
We spent many hours talking about our lives. I told him things I hadn’t before and asked questions about his life with Mother. I asked what was happening when I was born. He said WWII was still going on. He was drafted into the Navy and sent to VA. His superior liked that he was a good worker & requested Dad to stay in his position handing out GI clothes. Dad was happy because he wouldn’t be sent overseas.
When the war ended, he did war work 7 days/week & he & Mom paid off their first house in 2 years. Now I understood where the pattern of choosing men who left or didn’t have time for me originated. I had a loving, responsible father taking care of duties. But during my first formative years, he was absent; gone to war, to work & then, to care for his aging parents.
Five years later, on his death bed, he was in a light coma, remaining physically responsive to care & touch. Hospice put a hospital bed in our living room so he could die at home. After more than a week, he was skin & bones. I asked what he was learning and the answer came that he was learning to receive all the love he had given to others. He’d taken care of our Mother who was in a wheel chair 3 years after her stroke. I needed to own what I learned about healing over the last 20 years & give that to Dad.
I waited until my three hour shift – when my sister, Carole, was sleeping because she’d get up with him in the middle of the night. It was important for him to die at home so I was able to make my final hours with him a private, uninterrupted, sacred experience.
I began to work with his energy field seeing and moving it with my hands – talking to him the whole time. I focused on his heart because he was dying of heart failure. I told him that the greatest accomplishment of his life was that everyone loved him! “You’re afraid to let your physical body go because you believe that’s all there is,” I said. “You’ve been grounded your whole life (from farmer parents) and focused on the concrete.”
But now his physical eyes were closed. I put my forehead to his forehead, touching. I said, “Look with my vision, now. See what I see.” And I saw a beautiful tunnel of light lined with radiant angels, wings outspread, singing. I told him they were waiting to guide him home. That he was really a Spirit that could never die. All he had to do was drop this old, frail body like a worn out suit of clothes and cross over into the light. I finished healing his energy field and went to bed at 12:30 AM.
When I saw him in the morning, I knew he had departed in the night. They removed the body & hospital bed.
But the most important lesson happened after his death. In meditation, I spontaneously saw him on the other side, radiant, glorious & shinning with 2 other golden beings on either side of him beaming broadly in total joy. Tears streamed down my face and I felt exalted. Joy filled me for two whole weeks with the knowledge that he was resplendent in the light. After that, I began to mourn my loss. My body and personality still needed to feel the pain of separation.
The fact that we are Spirits that never die, taking on bodies that do, is so central to an understanding of who we really are. This is the ultimate gift Dad gave me. A true experience of him as a transcendent light-filled Being after his mortal body died. An experience that Life continues after death. This is who we all are. Eternal Light Beings living in mortal bodies. Open yourself to this understanding and see how it changes your life. Who will you become? What will you do differently?
Look for my new book, The Healing House, The Gift of Dad’s Final Years soon on Amazon.com.
Author: Gwen Sarandrea has authored numerous books including Counseling Case Study & The Healing House, The Gift of Dad’s Final Years. She is also a portrait montage artist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gwen has a love of helping people cope with the aging and death of parents and other loved ones. Visit Amazon.com to pick up your copies of Gwen’s books.