A Quilt of Love For The Journey Home
I have used my God-given gifts as a medium for over 10 years to help people connect with their loved ones in spirit and to help people overcome their fears as they are approaching the doorway home. This gift truly is a blessing for everyone as I’ve found it brings healing to those on both sides. My gift also gives me tremendous joy as I am allowed to fulfill my spiritual purpose. I seldom have the opportunity to use this gift for my own life and my family.
Although I will occasionally have a deceased grandparent or my mother-in-law pop in to say hello and acknowledge what I am doing with my life, the need to have long conversations just hasn’t been there until this year. At this point in my life I find my gift of mediumship to be the greatest blessing I could have. As many of you will eventually experience, my family now faces the imminent death of my father. The time has come for us to experience the emotional roller coaster of grief that I so often write about and assist others with. Most of us understand that the pain and sense of loss is an inevitable part of grief yet my ability to communicate with my father’s spirit has provided my family with an amazing sense of comfort during this hard time. My God-given gifts are a bit difficult to fully understand and accept even for my family and this is understandable as I too have a problem with them at times.
My father began having strokes about 10 months ago that have since lead up to his journey’s end for this lifetime. With each stroke he became further distanced from us and the initial grief of losing him began. The strokes took both the use of his body and his mind, leaving us with someone that we barely knew yet clung to because of our fear of losing him altogether. This was not the man of great physical strength and determination to successfully overcome every challenge he had ever encountered that we knew and remembered.
As his family, we had grown to depend on this man of unfailing strength in our lives. Although his body became frail we regularly came to the nursing home, eagerly looking for some sign that he was still in that body. He seldom showed any recognition of his family but he seemed happy and that was important to us. While he was still able to speak he would tell everyone that he had bought the place he was living in and bragged that he was going to marry one of the pretty young nurses. We all laughed because that was definitely my father’s charm coming through. Eventually my mother explained to him that they had been married for 55 years and she wasn’t going to give up her spot now. He said he hated to break the nurse’s heart but resolved that he had better tell her that he was already spoken for. Even in his state of confusion his personality came through as he always enjoyed entertaining everyone. His state of awareness seemed to come and go and although I understood, others in my family did not.
Part of my gift includes being able to see the spirit of the body so during my visits I was able to tell whether his spirit was with his physical body or out visiting the other side as the spirit often does in a situation such as this. When he was in the body it was always interesting to listen to him talk about his visits from his deceased brother, parents and grandparents who had crossed over many years ago. Because he was such an active man prior to the strokes it was actually a comforting thought to know that he was not trapped in the physical struggle that his body was going through. It was sad when his speech became more difficult as it felt like we had lost another part of him.
It was at this time when he began reaching out to me but in a very unusual way or at least it might seem unusual to others. When I would get quiet in meditation and prayer his spirit would show up and begin talking to me. I was so excited as it was great to have him back. At first he admitted that he had always had his doubts about the kind of work that I do but was enjoying talking to me now. He had always been a very vocal person and not having a voice to express his wants and needs was really bothering him. He said his mother, my grandmother, had shown him how to find his way to me as she had been coming to me for many years. I thanked her very much for what my father and I both perceived as a blessing.
I will explain how this communication works. Just as I am able to communicate with spirits that have crossed over, I can communicate with the spirit of a living body. When I refer to communicating, the spirit may give me thoughts using pictures, words, emotions or I may hear the actual message that they are giving me. God has taught me how to interpret these messages using me as the messenger. The spirit has a consciousness and the physical body has a consciousness and they work together for the existence of the human body experience. I have spoken many times with the spirit of those still in physical body when working with others but I had not thought to try to contact the spirit of my own father. I think this situation may be similar to the cobbler’s children going shoeless. I was so caught up in my own grief that I had just forgotten about the possibility of speaking with him in another way. Through the experience of communicating with my father he confirmed for me how the spirit consciousness is able to function separately from the physical body.
Even though I continued to grieve the loss of my physical relationship with my father, our communication has helped me work through the grieving process with less sadness and more hope. I’ve spoken often with my father’s spirit about the life he experienced, our relationship and his wishes for the future. He tells me what it looks like on the other side and his journey back and forth as his spirit is still learning to function separate from the physical body.
My father’s most recent stroke has taken its toll on his physical body and it is now going through the dying process. His spirit knows and acknowledges to us that it is his time to leave yet he must patiently await the dying process of the physical body. My father has always had a control issue and even up to the end of this life experience his spirit has been experiencing lessons with control. His spirit is eager for the final transition and the family acknowledges that it is time for him to cross yet we feel guilty for even thinking about letting him go. It is difficult observing him in this state, knowing how much he would hate it yet we selfishly want him to stay with us.
My logical-self jumped in to gear in an effort to protect me through distractions. I have taken care of everything supposedly so that my mother could spend more time with my father. Hospice has been called, the funeral arrangements have been made, the suit has been chosen and cleaned, the obituary has been written, I frantically look around for what I can do next. Even the writing of this article is a distraction yet I justify it by thinking others need to understand this process as so many will be forced to experience this and they need to be prepared, but how do you really prepare for something so hard.
I then admit to myself that I have allowed my control issues to run wild, trying to hold off my emotions of grief. I discovered that this is what it is like to grieve in a logical way. I have written about logical grieving but not really experienced as I had just observed it in others. Although my emotional-self knows that I must eventually sit with my pain, my fear of drowning in the uncontrollable waves of my emotion is too much for me to bear at this time. I keep thinking, “can’t I just hold this part of the experience off a little longer, isn’t there something else for me to take care of?” As my father’s journey progresses it is now unavoidable, I can no longer control the emotions that I had been trying to hold in check. Emotional grief is “all about self”. I admit it. I hear my inner-child screaming “what about me?!”… I am loosing my daddy, sit down and cry with me. It is at those times we fall apart together. How many times have I told others to let the tears flow as that is healing for our souls but now I know what people mean when they say they fear that once the tears start they will never stop. I hope my tears of love for my father will never dry up but I trust that eventually I will go on with my life without a tear stained face.
Even though I am very familiar with the stages of grief, experiencing them is so hard. One day there is anger at having to lose him and the next day there is fear of how we will go on without him. Over the last ten months my family has adjusted to the absence of who he was in our physical lives but that acceptance does not make us miss him any less. I even sat down to re-read my own book on working through loss and grief to remind myself of how to go through this. My family has been experiencing what I call pre-grief. It starts when the personality that you knew is no longer in that body and you learn to love the person that they have become. The pain of losing that part of him was still there and now his physical body is leaving us. That only intensifies all of the stages of grief that we have been feeling this past year. You can understand why sitting and talking with his spirit brings me so much comfort. I am even able to tease him about his impatience and his lack of control over the situation.
We seldom think about how powerful prayer is. Many of us only pray to God during our times of fear. Thankfully God and I have a close relationship, as I am bending his ear often whether for myself or for others, we talk daily so he was not surprised to hear from me at this time. My trust that God was hearing my prayers for strength carried me through and reassured me that I was not alone in the support of my father’s journey and my family’s journey. Knowing that there were many family and friends that were talking to God for us was a true gift of love. It is a time like this when our faith and the love of family and friends mean so much.
Hospice is now working with us to make his end of life journey more comfortable for his physical body and to give the family support and strength. What a blessing they are. His physical body lies peacefully with arms curled tightly at his chest, sleeping or staring blankly into space with no sign of consciousness.
During the last week I’ve spent hour after hour sitting by my father’s side. Each member of the family has had their time to say goodbye and express their love. What a great gift of time we have been given and sadly one that many families do not get the opportunity to experience if their loved one passes unexpectedly. I feel that being at my father’s side during this part of his journey home has been such an honor. I won’t say it’s easy because it is both physically and emotionally exhausting. Each family member grieves in a different way as we all had different relationships with him. My parents were married for 55 years so my mother’s relationship with my father varied greatly from the relationships that my two brothers and I had with him. Even our relationships were varied because of the experiences we shared and because we are all such very different people.
In the past, I have sat with many families as they supported their dying loved ones and I thought I understood the drain it takes on the family. I now see that I only understood a portion of their experience. I am always honored to embrace the part of my job that involves helping someone experience the beautiful journey of going home to God as they cross into the light, while at the same time I assist the family during the grieving process. However, when it is your family the intensity of emotion seems to never end. Even though I have full awareness of the soul’s journey and understand it’s amazing beauty, that knowledge does not diminish the pain of the loss of my father and my relationship with him.
Many child-parent relationships hold painful memories and disappointments and my relationship with my father is no exception. Through my work with Spirit I was taught that it is through our relationships that we experience our life purpose and we are then given the opportunity to grow and overcome our challenges. My relationship with my father definitely molded me into who I am today and I have learned to take responsibility for what I create in my life. Through the work that I’ve been taught by Spirit, I was able to use my challenging relationship with my father to advance on my soul’s journey. I found gratitude for our experience together. I was able to gain a better understanding of forgiveness and unconditional love as I learned to express this to him and to myself. *Note that most of that work was done on a spiritual level, allowing me to change the relationship that I have with my father from my end so that I could project that into our physical relationship. This enables me to love him unconditionally and to release him into the light, knowing that our spirits have completed our work together. Without that anger there is no stopping my tears of love for my father yet they are mixed with tears of joy, pain and sadness. I have always found my emotions to be overwhelming at times and confusing to others but that is my authentic self so I can not deny it.
Now as I sit by my father’s side, I have been given the tremendous gift of joyfully reminiscing about our lives together. The childhood memories may always be a part of me but the negative emotions are no longer a part of those memories, I am now able to focus on the positive memories and thankfully I am set free from the pain to express only love for my father.
I have a large family, that has pulled together to help my mother and each other accept our grief and eminent loss. Logically we all know that eventually we will lose our parents to death, unfortunately that is just part of the cycle of life. Emotionally, the loss of a parent is devastating because we must face our grief.
As parents we pray that our children do not die before us and as children we pray that our parents do not leave us. None of us want to lose someone so important to our lives, as these relationships represent the foundation of who we are and how we love.
Just days prior to my father’s crossing, I was sitting in prayer early one morning when my grandmother’s spirit came to me and asked me to take her treasured quilt to the hospital to cover my father with. When I had been gifted my grandmother’s quilt at the time of her death, I had carefully packed it away to protect it and all of the memories it held. While I was obediently going to the closet to retrieve her quilt I questioned my grandmother about her unusual request. She said that she wanted her son wrapped in her love for the journey home. It was then that I understood that my grandmother had arrived from the other side to help with my father’s crossing.
This quilt was special because it was made by my grandmother’s loving hands and created by treasured scraps of material that she had collected over her lifetime. Being a child of the depression she never threw anything away that might possibly have a future use. Buttons, zippers, pieces of material were all carefully packed away in hopes of being able to use them in the future. She was a gifted seamstress that lovingly made all of my beautiful dresses right up until the time that I got married. She also made shirts and boxer shorts for her four sons as they were growing up. During the time that my father was growing up on the farm there was very little money for clothing or material to make clothes from, so the patterns on flour sacks and feed bags were specifically designed so that they could later be sewn into clothing. When I was a child, my grandmother told me often of going to the store to pick out flour sacks and feed bags printed in masculine patterns as she had four boys and a husband to sew for at the time.
I retrieved the quilt, as my grandmother had asked, to lovingly place over my father at the hospital. When my family gathered to visit we had a great time talking and laughing at the memories the quilt created for us. My mother was able to recognize the different patterns of material that had been scraps from boxer shorts that my grandmother had made for my father. She remembered my father telling about wearing them when he went into the Marines and the ribbing he took for wearing such fancy boxers. She laughingly told us that any time he could get away with it he would proudly revert back to wearing them because his mama had made them and they fit better than any others. Even after my parents were married, every Christmas my dad’s mother continued to send the beloved boxers made from feed sacks.
It became like a treasure hunt, as the family excitedly spread out the quilt looking for more memories. We were able to pick out patches of material that we remembered from grandma’s kitchen curtains as well as the handmade slipcover of my grandmother’s couch. I am sure when given the opportunity all of my uncles will be able to pick out leftover scraps of material from shirts and boxers that my grandmother had made for them.
When it was my turn, I tearfully caressed the quilt, picking out patches of leftover material from many of the dresses my grandmother had lovingly sewn for me. I was the only granddaughter of ten grandchildren, so I was always treated special or at least I thought so. So many years have passed since my childhood that I had forgotten how special it felt to be dressed so beautifully by the loving hands of my grandmother. In her patience she had taught me how to cook and to sew as I spent hours being spoiled by her. Unfolding the quilt, I joyfully touched material that I remembered to be from my grandmother’s dresses and meticulously sewn suits. The emotions flowed as the memories of my grandparents came flooding through for all of us as we laughed, cried and shared favorite stories.
What a beautiful way to record the journey of your life. We couldn’t have felt closer to my grandparents at that time. We knew that they were with us for such a wonderful gathering of the family and celebration of my father’s life. With everything we touch in our lives we leave behind the energy of spiritual fingerprints. The energy of my grandmother’s quilt was truly a reflection of the love for her family and her life as each piece represented a part of her journey.
That generation truly learned to recycle as they stored their most sacred memories of their lives in something that can bring their love and joy to generations to come. Although her quilt is worn and tattered I hold it precious to my heart, as it truly represents the love of our family like nothing else could. It is only fitting that my father be wrapped in its love to carry him home to God and his family that are awaiting his arrival.
When I sit alone with my father I share the quilt with him, wrapping the corner of it around me and again feeling my grandmother’s loving arms. I know my father will be leaving us soon as he tells me that his purpose is almost completed here and we must all go on living. He will remain an important part of who we are and his love will always be with us but his physical absence will definitely leave a big hole in our lives. I am sure he will burst into heaven looking for something to repair with his magical duct tape, caulk and bailing wire that he traditionally fixes everything with.
When I entered his room this morning I was greeted by a room full of love. I knew his angels and his loving family in spirit had come to take him home and this would be his last day with us in physical body. They were all excited about his journey home as was his spirit. I truly tried to rejoice with them… but self-ishly… my pain of losing him prevented me from sharing their joy. I guess I am just human after all