I've been gathering the things we've seen that have shown God's miracles in Mom's and our lives since losing Dad. When I think about these experiences, it helps me separate the grief I feel at not having him here, from the joy I know he is experiencing being in the presence of other heavenly beings. Here are the 4 biggest miracles we've seen in the past 6 months.
The first miracle (in article format, I submitted it to the Ensign) ~ Mom's Anniversary Radio Miracle
Throughout our childhood, my mother would occasionally reference the miraculous story of the “Fresh Crab and French Bread” (Ensign, June 1985) and it’s beautiful lessons of how close our loved ones remain to us once they pass on, the tender mercies God grants to us, and the reality of the plan of salvation. Little did we know how Mom would be blessed by these very same principles later in her time of great need.Mom and Dad were happily enjoying retired life, living near their 5 children and 18 grandchildren, when suddenly and without warning, Dad passed away on May 29, 2017, just a few short weeks before he and Mom would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. No words can describe the terrible shock and pain that Dad’s death caused us all. The kindest, most humble and compassionate of men with a perpetual twinkle in his eye, he devoted his life to his wife and children, never meeting anyone he didn’t like, always setting a quiet example of Christlike love by lifting the burdens of others with his cheery smile and jolly laugh. Day after day, we mourned with loved ones the loss of this great man, and tried to understand why this tragedy had befallen our family. There were times we felt wrapped in the Savior’s arms… we received blessings, felt the faith of countless prayers being uttered on our behalf, and read scriptures… “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). But it seemed as though nothing could truly lessen mom’s broken heart; she missed her best friend and felt, like Elder Wirthlin described, as if “the universe itself seem(ed) shattered and the shards of our world [lay] littered about us in pieces” (Gen Conf, Oct 2006).
The morning of their 50th anniversary, Mom sadly told my sister, “I just wish I could hear Stephen’s voice today, just one more time.” Not one hour later, I received a text from a friend that read: “Melanie – I’m pretty sure I’m listening to your dad’s voice on the radio right now!” We found the online link and sure enough, that very morning, a radio station airing old Car Talk Show episodes, to our amazement, played one that featured our Dad! None of us were aware that he had even called the station over 20 years ago to chat about his car. What was amazing about the car show is that it was a NATIONAL radio show... a friend in Colorado heard it too! Thanks to my friend Dallin, who was listening early that morning as he drove home from cleaning the church building, we were able to hear Dad’s voice that day.
I know there is power on the other side. I testify that the plan of salvation is real. I believe that Dad was allowed to interact with us; what a privilege and blessing to know that God is in the details! It was important to Dad that Mom be taken care of, and I am so grateful that a loving Heavenly Father allowed them to hold hands thru the veil that day, and hopefully will again many more days to come as she continues to attend the temple and feel his presence there. For, as we engage in serving our loved ones who have joined the heavenly throng, miracles will happen. Because of the Savior’s life and eternal sacrifice, we will be reunited with those we cherish. “Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are ‘like a broken vessel,’ as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter.” (Gen Conf, Oct 2013, Holland). I know we will shed tears of unrestrained joy when we embrace our loved ones again, and I look forward to thanking my Heavenly Father for the gift of having my hero Dad in my life, and for this miracle that gave Mom hope to carry on just when she needed it most.
The 2nd miracle is her Birthday Watch.
On her birthday, which was only days after Dad's funeral, Mom's neices that were still in town convinced her to go out shopping to buy something that would have been from Dad. She of course didn't want to go but they finally got her out and they went to the Brighton store in the mall. That's where Mom and Dad would always shop for jewelry together. She needed a watch and they had talked about getting her one before he died. So she walked in and didn't see anything she liked, so the store owner pulled up an online catalog, and thumbed through them all one by one. She stopped at one and said, oh this is a nice one, but it has a random name...I don't know why it's named this. It's called the Culver City watch, I don't even know what that is...? My mom just stood there in awe. Culver City, California is the exact city where my mom and dad met and dated and fell in love. None of us have ever even heard of a watch named after a city; for her to find that watch to be called that very city, on the day she went in to buy one from Dad, and it even had a bit of a manly look to it but it was clearly a woman's watch with hearts on it ~ it was exactly what the two of them would have picked out together. Not at all coincidence, just a complete tender Mercy. What precious moments when Heavenly Father allows us to fully feel Dad's love.
This 3rd miracle is getting her sweet doggie Stieg.
Daron and I had been looking online for dogs, trying to find just the right companion for mom. This whole time, Mom had been telling all of us she did NOT want another dog - Bandit was the last attempt at finding one, and he didn't work out. But we kept searching for a Pekingese, her favorite breed. I found 'Gizmo' on Craigslist, and made an appointment. That morning, I picked mom up, and the first words out of her mouth were "we better not be going to get a dog." I laughed and said, we're just going for a drive. On the way there, I admitted that we found this adorable dog, but whether we chose him or not, it would just be a fun 45 minute drive around Houston... she always likes drives. So as we drove, she asked me all about him. I showed her his picture, we talked about the price (I had brought enough cash in case we loved him), and she slowly started being more interested as we approached. When we parked next to the owner, we saw the beautiful dog. He got him out and put him on a leash, so we got out of the car and immediately started oohing and aahing, and petting him. He was beautiful, and he stood there and DID NOT MAKE A PEEP. Not a bark, not a growl, nothing. Even as I write this I can't stop crying -- he was perfectly still, and let Mom bend over and scoop him up in her arms. He snuggled up next to her and she instantly loved him. None of his behavior seemed odd to us, because we didn't know him yet. We of course bought him & named him Stieg. The miracle part is this: EVERY SINGLE PERSON HE MET AFTER MOM, HE BARKED AT NON-STOP. Not just a growl, but an ANGRY, CRAZY BARK that was apparently his mode of meeting people. We later asked the owner about it, and he said yes he's that his way when he first meets people. Which we didn't know because he didn't make a PEEP when he met Mom. There is no doubt in my mind that Dad was there. He was already loving on and whispering to Stieg that this would be his Mommy, and he should love her. When I rehearse it in my mind, how he jumped in her arms that day, and yet every person he's met since then he barks at incessantly, there is no question that God allowed Dad to be THERE, and in those details. We would NEVER have brought Stieg home that day had he barked at us the way he does to others. And from the start, he has ADORED Mom, won't leave her side, lays on her lap or tummy every moment she's at home, snuggles in her neck and face, and sleeps happily in her room, waiting patiently til Mom gets him up every morning. We couldn't have found her a more perfect companion. And it was definitely with Dad's heavenly help.
The 4th miracle is the Trash Men.
As Mom and I headed to the movies to celebrate Dad's 75th birthday, she told me how that morning, she sat on her rocking chair waiting to give her regular Trash Guys $20 bills for the holidays like Dad would always do. They all 3 hopped out of their truck to thank her, then said, "Now where is your husband? He's such a good man! When we come by we always look for him!" Mom cried and told them what happened, and they all hugged her and said how sorry they were and they just couldn't believe he was gone. And today was their last day because Mom's neighborhood is switching trash companies, so this is one of those miracles, that she was sitting out there waiting for them on the last day and was able to hear their sweet comments about dad, today on his birthday.
Love you Dad, so glad you are nearby. We can't wait to embrace you again!