Blue Marble: Saying Goodbye To My Father
One day, during the last week of July, I visited my Dad for the last time. I didn’t know it would be the last time – but I hoped that it might.
Even after he’d lost the ability to walk, even after he’d been paralyzed on one side, even when he could no longer feed himself, my father had looked forward to what the day would bring. He enjoyed watching old movies and sports on TV.
He motored around the nursing home, operating his power wheelchair with his good hand. But a few months ago, they took his power chair away – and a week after that, Dad lost the use of his good hand. Now, completely paralyzed from the neck down, Dad was in despair.
I’d never seen him struggle this way – and it broke my heart. So that night, on the way home, I began to pray: Please take him. Please end this suffering.
A few days later, I got into the car to visit him – and, while turning my car onto the road… how do I explain this?… something stopped me.
I felt pressure in my chest, as if an invisible hand were holding me back while, whispering: Not today.
The guidance was so clear that I answered it out loud, saying,”Okay,” as I turned the car around.
I’d go tomorrow.
But I didn’t go. Not that day, nor the next, nor the whole next week.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to visit – I couldn’t visit.
One day it was traffic, the next day an urgent phone call from the office. Things kept coming up – with my kids, my mom. Once, I even had a flat tire.
I REALLY couldn’t visit.
Strangely, as this was going on, I began to find an
So many that I was drawn outside more often – curious to see what I’d find. I started sharing my astonishing feather collection with friends on Instagram and Facebook, labeling them with the hashtag, #Featherwalk.
I felt strongly guided during each walk – as if led by an invisible thread right to the location where another bright blue or yellow feather lay waiting, right to the field where a clutch of wild turkeys had passed through, dropping their striped tail feathers.
And it wasn’t just feathers – I began to realize: Every day, five wild turkeys crossed my path. Whether I was walking or driving – in different neighborhoods. One day, five turkeys suddenly appeared at the side of the Palisades Parkway. No matter what time of day I went out, I encountered those turkeys.
There were also two deer. And open gates and the black butterfly, which flew into my face the day before he died.
And then, the nursing home called:
Dad’s breathing was labored, they said. I should come right in. I wanted to bring something with me – something that connected him to… something. To love, to his life – something that would tell him, I love you.
I don’t know what made me think of blue marbles. Maybe it was that Dad had loved marbles as a kid and somewhere in the house, I had his old collection. As we raced from the house, I grabbed two blue marbles and put one in each pocket of my sweater.
That evening, Dad was blessedly asleep, his breathing lightly labored. The doctor asked me if I wanted them to administer antibiotics. I declined. I signed the papers.
“I’ll be back in the morning, Dad,” I promised, kissing him on the forehead.
When I got home, I realized that I still had the blue marbles in my pockets. I placed them in my purse. I’d give them to him tomorrow.
The next evening, on August 7th, the night before my birthday, I posted to Facebook from my father’s room: Please join me in a quiet prayer for my father, Raymond Ozarow. Angels gather Close and Ease him on his way.
A few minutes later, as my community of students and friends and family were posting comments and praying – Dad’s breathing eased. He opened his eyes and he smiled.
That night, I found the blue marbles in my purse. I never did show them to Dad.
At midnight, I woke from a sound sleep, gasping: Dad!
When I called the nursing home, they told me he’d died. I hung up the phone, my heart soaring with joy. My father was free.
For the next few days, my sisters and I were caught in making arrangements – fielding phone calls and emails from the many friends and family members who reached out, offering love and support. Thank you for that. Your messages were so meaningful to us.
During that time, many things happened that let us know Dad had indeed discovered that there was a next step, a place from where he could transmit the sign that he’d promised to send.
For example, on August 9th, when I picked up my sister, Beth, at the airport, she mentioned that her phone had been ringing for the past couple of days – the caller ID showing only a string of zeroes. When she picked up, no one was there.
“That’s Dad!” I said, sharing other stories I’d read about angels using our communications technology – cell phones, computers, text messages, emails – to deliver their messages of light.
“Wow!” my sister said.
A few minutes later, her cell phone rang. It was Jenny, our other sister and Beth picked up. But Jenny told us that Beth had called her. Both of their phones had started ringing at the same moment – connecting them, and me. Three sisters. All together in one conversation.
“Dad!” Beth said, laughing as we clued Jenny in. Though Jenny wasn’t as convinced as we were, she was intrigued.
And that evening, when Beth told my husband about the crazy phone calls, he said, “That’s funny, we’ve been getting them, too.” He hadn’t told me because, well, my father had died and he didn’t want to bother me with things like annoyance calls.
Fascinated, we clustered around the phone to check the caller ID and discovered that, every few hours since the time of Dad’s death, we’d received a call from an “Unknown Caller”.
When we called back, it was not a working number.
These calls continued to come for the week that my sister stayed with us. Several times, when we were talking about Dad, both of our cell phones would beep as if we were getting a text. But of course, when we checked, there were no texts. It was just Dad, chiming in.
Then, on August 13th, “Dad” called at 6:15 am. When I picked up the phone, no one was there. Hello? I asked. Nothing but static. Hello? again, static. Dad? I asked and the static suddenly grew very loud.
Like each of us, my father was born with challenges and gifts. He had the heart and soul of an athlete – he loved everything about sports, especially baseball.
The challenge: he was born in a body with cerebral palsy.
This morning, my beautiful Aunt Elaine called to express her condolences. “I loved your father very much,” she told me. “He was a good man who helped many people. And I’m sorry for your loss but now he’s free – now he can play ball with the other kids.”
She told me how his big brothers always included him. I loved that… so so much.
Her story reminded me of a conversation Dad and I had a few weeks ago.
We were sitting outside, enjoying a beautiful summer day when I reminded Dad of our ‘afterlife bet.’
Dad loved a good wager almost as much as a good joke – and here was …. like, the supreme gamble. Dad was betting there wasn’t an afterlife. I was betting, all-chips-in, that there was.
“Remember Dad,” I said. “When you die and you discover there IS an afterlife, I win!”
“What do you get when you win?” he asked.
“You have to send me a sign.”
“What sign do you want?”
“You’ll figure that out.”
“Okay,” he agreed. “But what if there ISN’T an afterlife “
“Then, you win, ” I said.
“And what do I win?” he asked. “You have to have stakes.”
“Well, If there’s no afterlife, there won’t really BE anything to get, will there?”
He laughed, conceding, “That’s true.”Then we sat for a while, watching the white puffy clouds float over the river.
Then, “I’ve been thinking,” Dad said. “How do I know I’m not already dead? I mean, what if this is heaven right here?”
“Well, test it,” I suggested. “Can you run? Can you fly? Can you play baseball?”
“Let me check,” Dad said. Then, “Nope, not in heaven yet.”
And so, I end this with an invocation: Godspeed, Raymond Ozarow! Play Ball!