Philadelphia

A STORY THAT’S NO BLARNEY FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Our family is of Irish descent, my dad was about as Irish as they come and every year as we were growing up he would throw a big party on St. Patrick’s Day. So when he died one of his requests was that we spread his ashes in the Atlantic Ocean off of the island he lived on for half the year in Florida (he followed the fish each season) on St. Patrick’s Day and have an Irish Wake. Every year on the anniversary I retell this story, it’s a story of hope, and it really happened to us and I want to share it with you…Today marks the 4 year anniversary since we spread my dad’s ashes in the Florida Keys as per his wishes. My father died suddenly at their house in Florida May 3, 2004. I like to mark this anniversary with this story each year: (Originally written March 23, 2005)

Last Thursday, on St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrated my father’s life by spreading his ashes about 2 miles off the Florida Keys (he had died unexpectedly the year before in an accident at this house). It was a beautiful ceremony. We had a St. Patrick’s Day memorial party in the afternoon at the house as dad had requested.
In the evening (about 9PM) the family (including the under 15 set who were not at the house during the day) gathered on the patio to enjoy mom’s key lime pie and other desserts by CANDLELIGHT. My nephew Kevin was the only youngin’ to join us on the patio as the other kids ate inside watching TV. Kevin is a little over 2.5 years old (he had only met my dad about a handful of times as his family lived in another state) He doesn’t really talk yet, as they say he is a slow learner and at the time we thought he was autistic, but he can usually put a word or two together once in a blue moon, and knows sign language for the important words like Eat, Food and Drink. Otherwise he talks gibberish as his speech teacher has told my sister. (This was one of the last pictures I took of dad at their house in NJ with mom and Kevin (Mom’s Italian)He had never been to my parents house in Florida, and he was never in the backyard before this night (we all rented houses on a different parts of the island and had dinner at one another’s house the previous nights, [he never saw my dad on a boat, we only have one photo of Kevin and my dad together, he had only met him a handful of times as my sister lived out of state.] As we sat around the table on the patio, and after about 20 minutes of eating and chatting KEVIN stands up and points into the darkness towards the water where my dad’s boat use to be docked (as it was sold after dad died) and states “POP-POP, boat.” He says this a few times. He goes on to say Pop-pop, minnow. “Pop-pop, home” “Pop-pop hello.” “No bait to fish”A very emotional Mom then asked me to go get a photo of dad and give it to Kevin’s dad. His dad, Frank pointed to the photo and says to Kevin, “Who is this? Kevin said Pop-pop.” Kevin where is pop-pop? And then Kevin pointed towards where the stern (back) of the boat would be, and where my dad spent many hours tinkering (the boat was 26 feet long and has a definite stern, middle and bow section). (house and boat that I took on the day dad died when I flew to the Keys to see dad in the hospital before he passed. We were all sitting to the left, at the far right in the darkened part of the patio is a hammock that dad spent lots of hours on reading and snoozing)

As time went on, things got quiet and Kevin went back to gibberish, my sister Tracy said to me that it was like the movie the Sixth-Sense, I leaned over to her and said “Can Kevin see dead people?”. (I don’t think Kevin heard me, but his mother came over and tapped me on the head and looked at me with a disapproving look.)

THEN Kevin jumps up and happily states, as he was raising his arms in the air like he was going to do a cheer, “NO ONE is DEAD,” “NO ONE is DEAD,” “No Sad, No one Dead,” Don’t be scared, No one dead.” After about a minute or two he stopped and began playing patty cake with Pop-pop? Then he played hide and go seek, even stating BOO a few times. Then he walked to the far (and less lit) side of the patio, about 25 feet from where we were all sitting, to where the empty hammock was. He then started pushing the hammock with TWO HANDS gleefully squealing “WHEEEEEE WHEEEEE ISNT THIS FUN….” Finally running back to where we were sitting stunned, Kevin stated one last time “NO ONE DEAD, DON’T BE SAD” “Pop-pop HOME”
At this point Kevin went on to play a game of stepping on someones toes, and then someone trying to step on his toes. This was a sight to see as he was clearly communicating and playing with someone (Pop-Pop?) as he was squealing in laughter and looking up. After a bit, as we were all sniffling and in a bit of shock, Kevin’s frazzled dad Frank said it was late, and time to go, at that point the usually mild manner boy just burst out crying and actually threw himself on the ground backwards (not violently though). As his dad picked him up, Kevin turned 180 degrees towards the water, where the stern of the boat would have been, where my dad spent so many hours, and said bye pop-pop, bye as he blew Pop-pop a kiss good-bye

We all know how blessed we are to have had this amazing experience. And for months following this incident, Kevin would occasionally see Pop-pop and announce it to his mom and once had his mom call Nana to tell her, but sightings haven’t occurred in about 2 years, and once in awhile when I see Kevin I ask him if he has seen Pop-pop, nowadays he has no idea what I am talking about, and that is just fine with his mother, as she doesn’t want Kevin remembering seeing Pop-pop after he had died, so please don’t tell him!

My Mike wasn’t on this trip with me, and being Jewish/Agnostic he was skeptical of my story, until he asked each my sisters separately and the stories jelled. He’s still Jewish/Agnostic, but knows that we saw Kevin chat with dad that day.