Friday, February 28, 2014

Call Home


I opened my second-story bedroom window and looked across the neighbor's backyard and through the spring trees to the clear blue sky beyond. The morning air was both seasonably cool and humid. It was a beautiful mid-May morning. School was closed for the Feast of the Ascension and I had promised my boss I'd work. I worked after school on weekdays and all day on Saturdays, and that was enough for me. So, I wished I hadn't promised, and the weather was going to be perfect. 

I leaned out the window. Mom backed her car out of the driveway and headed for her receptionist job, two blocks away. It was exactly 7:50. I could, literally, set my watch by Mom. A touch of spring fever came over me as I closed the window. I sure wasn't looking forward to spending the day indoors. 

I slipped on my light jacket and left to go to work. Dad was painting the outside frame of a casement window at basement level on the side of the house. He didn't notice I paused on the sidewalk in front of the house to watch him for a moment. He was on break from work and already busy at that early hour with minor home repairs. 

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming urge to forget about work and spend time with Dad. The urge nailed me to the ground. It felt like a life-or-death situation! That never happened before; not that strong. I didn't know what I should do. But I had made a promise and had to keep my word. So with a heart that tugged at me and begged me not to go, I very reluctantly continued on my way to the bus stop; and while I waited for my ride, I decided, that when I got home from work, I'd ask Dad if he'd like to do something together on Sunday, like go into Manhattan, or visit Grandma in Queens; things we hadn't done in over 5 years. 

On the ride to work, a wave of fatigued came over me from the work and school load. I was looking forward to graduation, five weeks away. I couldn't wait to be done with school.  It didn't help matters that strife had flared up again at home; and in the past couple of months, it became more and more frequent. Mom was unhappy with Dad's behavior, which was the usual cause of the flare ups. There wasn't a second to spare on any distractions from the distraction. I was 'invisible'. Mom was super touchy again, and when it came to Mom, it was all too true that when she was unhappy, no one was happy. And her mood caused plenty of tension and stress for me this time around; I had to avoid her because she lashed out at me, as well.  The bus arrived at my stop, and I cleared my mind as I walked the block to work.

I typed letters all morning. After lunch, while I was standing at my desk separating the letters from their file copies, I heard a voice. It said, calmly, "Call home. Your mother needs you." I automatically looked at the ceiling where the voice came from. There was nothing there. It was a man's voice, and it sounded as if it was coming through a megaphone at a distance. I looked around the open-floor office. Everyone was seated at their desks, focused on their work; so no one else heard the voice. I thought I must have imagined it, and returned to what I was doing.

Within ten seconds, I heard the voice again. It repeated, but emphatically this time: "Call *home*!  Your mother *needs* you!"  Immediately, I was shaking all over. I looked at the ceiling again. Still, nothing was there. I looked around the office again.  My co-workers were still busy at their work. Obviously, no one else heard it that time either; and it was as if they hadn't moved. Actually, they weren't moving at all. As the hair on the back of my neck stood up, I slowly realized that the voice said, "your mother", the way Dad referred to Mom. It was terrifying! 

I crossed my arms to help stop the trembling and looked across the entire ceiling. Nothing was there. Then, I looked at the office wall clock. It was 1:30. It didn't make sense that Mom would need me to call her at home. She had lunch at home between 12:10 and 12:50, returning to work by 1:00; so I knew she wouldn't be home at 1:30. There was no sense calling.

I thought of calling Mom at work, where I knew she would be; but I knew that if Mom needed me, she would call me at my office. So what I heard, or thought I heard, didn't fit; it didn't make sense.
I chalked it up to imagination again and felt that it was a reaction to the stress at home. It took me a few seconds to shake it all off, as I finished sorting the letters.

Then, I felt a strong urge to get away from my desk, and by then, I was listening. I picked up the stack of copies, but when I went to move away from the desk, a powerful magnetic pull came from the phone. It was so strong, it froze me where I stood. I was scared out of my mind!  I felt my life was in danger. So with all my strength, I yanked and twisted, twisted and yanked against it, but couldn't get free. Then I held still for a moment, and twisted and yanked again, and suddenly, I was unceremoniously released, causing me to stumble backward. 

I stood aghast, starring at the phone. I thought, "What was *that!*  Is the phone also 'telling' me to call home? This is crazy!" I looked around the office again. No one saw what just happened. No one saw the wild contortions I had just gone though, and my desk and I were in clear, open view of four of my co-workers; practically within arms reach. Everyone was in the same positions they were in the first time I looked. No one had moved. It was as if everything in creation was standing still. I couldn't fathom what was happening or, actually, what was not happening. I looked at the clock again; it was still 1:30. At least a minute had gone by since I first looked at the clock, and although the second hand was moving, as it had been all through this experience, the minute hand hadn't moved. 

I flew into the filing room with the letter copies in my hand, all the while thinking I must be losing my mind!  The stress at home must be causing it. I filed the copies and felt a little more calm, but just a little. I walked real slowly back to my desk, watching to the left and right as I moved toward the other room. I took a quick peek before entering. Everyone was moving. Everything was back to normal.

I was on edge for the rest of the workday, but nothing else happened. I was so glad, and I was so drained. I left work at 5, caught the usual bus, and got off at the regular stop, a few blocks from home. On the last leg of the walk, a neighbor boy, playing in the street with another boy, told me, "Your dad was taken away in an ambulance." I stopped dead in my tracks, stunned; but given what happened at 1:30, I asked if he remembered what time the ambulance came, as I started to break into a run towards home. He said he didn't know exactly when, but it was not too long after he had his lunch. 

I ran at top speed the rest of the way, up the front walkway, and through the front door, the closed-in porch, and the living room, and to the dining room archway. I was completely out of breath, and I was stopped short because, seated at the dining room table with Mom was the next-door neighbor, who had never stepped foot in the house before. We were on 'greeting-only' terms. 

I looked from Mom to the neighbor, back to Mom, then, to the neighbor. Their eyes and faces made me know that whatever happened was bad. I cupped my face with my hands, and in breathless gasps I looked at Mom and cried out, "What happened to Dad?!"  She looked at me, puzzled, and asked, "How did *you* know?" That perplexed me; and after a few seconds, I told her the neighbor boy told me that Dad was taken away in an ambulance. She didn't reply. I asked her again, "What happened?". She stood up slowly and said, "He's dead."  SNAP!!  Just like that!

The blow caused me to loose my footing, and I fell against the archway jamb, screaming, "No! No! No!", again and again. It was the worst moment of my life. As soon as the shock allowed me, I asked Mom how it happened, hoping I could contain myself enough to even hear her. She said she came home and found Dad unresponsive. She called for an ambulance. Later, when the hospital called her, they said he was dead-on-arrival.

I steadied myself against the jamb with an arm, thinking about the voice I heard at 1:30, and hoping Mom had returned home for lunch at her earlier *set* time. I choked out, "Did you find him when you came home for lunch?"  She said, "Well, yeah. But my lunch time was delayed an hour or so." Trembling from head to toe, and using my jacket sleeves to wipe the river of tears from my face, I drew a deep breath and cried out, "Was that at 1:30?" Her jaw dropped and she said, "How could *you* know *that*?" 

I crash into the living room arm chair directly behind me, screaming, "I should have called! I should have called!", then covered my face with my hands, uncontrollably crying and saying, "Why didn't I listen!? Why didn't I *just* listen?!  I should have called, I should have called", over and over. The neighbor stood up. The movement caught my eye, and snapped me back to the scene. I looked up. The neighbor said she felt she should go. Mom saw her out. 

As soon as the front door closed, Mom came back, and standing over me, she asked, "What do *you* mean you *should* have called?"  We locked eyes. I had one question. I stood up, and face-to-face, I asked: "Why didn't you call *me*?!'  As she stammered to come up with an answer, I already knew the answer. I was 'invisible' to her, meaning I wasn't necessary to her. And that had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her. And since the only one in *my* control was me, I decided not to allow myself to be 'invisible', ever again.

As Mom was still rummaging around for an answer, I asked her again, "Why? Why didn't you?"; and she said, "I thought, since there was nothing that could be done about it, there was no point in disturbing you at work." I was stunned to the bone. I slowly realized that what I heard, "your mother needs you" was the truth, and I realized that I needed to know that truth, because with it, I knew I didn't have the ability to fill, or even be able to help with that 'need', in any way. Mom was insular, and calling home couldn't have changed that. Telling her what happened couldn't have changed that. But there'll never be anyway to know, by just being there with her, although 'invisibly', what good could have come about from it. It's one of the unknowns.   

As soon as Mom finished her last words to me, about not wanting to disturb me at work, I nodded and said, "You can depend on the same *consideration* from me", and I flew up the stairs to my room, slammed the door, and crashed, face-down on the bed.  My head swirled. I was numb. I had gotten my hopes up that Dad and I would spend Sunday together, and I was crushed because that would never be.

I cried for a long time, all the while wanting to deny Dad died, but I couldn't, because he did. When I decided to take a break from going around and around about it, it was dark outside. There had been no need to turned on the bedroom light when I entered the room earlier; so in the darkness I went over what happened, to analyze it as best as I could at that moment, and it all boil down to: I understood that it was God's will. Much as I didn't like that at all, it was *all* God's will. So no matter what might have been different, given God's will for Dad, nothing would have change the inevitable outcome. Any such difference would have made *no* difference to the inevitable outcome. 

Just the same, the experience taught me to stick, 100%, with strong and undeniable urges, even for no known reason. When I felt nailed to the ground in front of the house, I was 'told' to go back in, call work, and spend the day with Dad, no matter the reason or lack of one (and in retrospect, no matter inevitable outcome). Paying attention to this individually-tailored "communication"--the super strong, undeniable urge--is the top priority. 

Because this was the first time I heard the 'voice', I didn't have the experience to be able to handle it...any of it...with enough wisdom (balance). In fact, I should have drawn upon *all* seven of the baptismal Gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially fear of/respect for the Lord, because I was told "your mother needs you", and that was unconditional. It needed no justification, and this type of command would not come from 'off' spirits, because they don't care about human well-being.  And not using the Gifts was the result of not being in the automatic habit of using them, which is supposed to be done, all the time, so that when a situation goes as fast, or faster than this one, discernment can be made in a heartbeat.

A very important step wasn't taken here:  Although the experiences in the office felt life-threatening, there was time to think. That time came about when I noticed everything had stopped, or appeared to have stopped, including the clock. There was time "to test the spirits", including those manifesting in and from me; and the power, the intelligently-coordinated power alone made me realize that little old me was nothing compared to it; and so, humility reigned supreme. That smallest of Gifted Fruit/virtues, humility, was key in helping me completely understand what went on, and why it was necessary, for my spiritual growth, to go through it. Testing other spirits would have required only a split second question: Would calling home have harmed anyone? It wouldn't have. But, although this is one of the unknowns, nevertheless, I should have called home.

In the main, no matter how much conflict is flying around; no matter how much stress is being handed out, and for free; no matter how nonsensical what is heard sounds; no matter how deep, how wide, how high and how thick the dysfunction, I am to be one with baptismal gifts, pay attention to all 'communication', and take time to discern the spirit; and if an experience meets these minimal 'qualifications', I am to follow directions when I hear that voice. For me, it comes from God.

Tina Irene Williams
From ©WilliamsScript, the author's private collection of writings
Copyright © Tina Irene Williams 2000 All Rights Reserved.
No part of this document may be reproduced without Tina Irene Williams' written consent.

___________________________

From BAM,
Tina, my heart breaks for you to have experienced the death of your father this way. And I am inspired by the way you intelligently analyzed your experience to come to the conclusion that God was guiding you and comforting you. He gave you the answers in your analytical process.
I am inspired by your faith and I am grateful for the gift of your writing talent/expression.