November 21, 1968 is a day that will forever be engraved on my soul. It’s the day, 55 years ago, that my father passed, suddenly and unexpectedly from a brain haemhorrage. He’d cheated death twice before, once after surgery when I was just three years old and again in 1966 when a routine medical found advanced tuberculosis.
In a cruel twist of fate, less than 24 hours earlier, he’d been given a clean bill of health by his consultant, and told he could return to work, running our fish and chip shop with my Mum. When he woke with a blinding headache soon after 7.00 am that morning, we put it down to the overenthusiastic celebrating he’d indulged in the night before, but before we could bring him aspirin and water, he was dead.
I was just 16 years old at the time, and it was a dreadful shock. My Dad was my champion, defending me to his mother when she called my mini skirt – which to be fair, was more like a wide belt – indecent. He wasn’t that enthusiastic himself, but he told Gran I looked lovely and he was proud of me. He refused to send me to change before I went to the local Wednesday hop with my friends.
The previous Christmas, when Mum had sent me to bring back Dad and his brothers and nephews from the pub for lunch, he’d brought me a Babycham because I was his favourite daughter. Well, his only daughter, but he was under the influence at the time. Otherwise he wouldn’t have been standing on the table singing The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music, complete with impressive yodels. Now that fun and zest for life was snuffed out, at the heartbreakingly early age of 49.
Those who know me will tell you that I inherited that sense of fun and love of life, as did my younger brother and the grandchildren he never met on this side of life, but it wasn’t the only legacy my beloved father left behind. My father was responsible for one of my first spirit contacts, and in the last few years, he has been a consistent support from beyond the grave. He is now my spiritual gatekeeper, and is a source of wisdom and comfort.
Just a few days after his passing, Dad came to me in a dream with two other gentlemen, one of whom I recognised as my maternal grandfather, who had passed five years previously. The other I assumed to be my father’s father, who passed to Spirit before I was born, and Dad confirmed this. He said they had all come to reassure me that although Dad had been on his own when his body gave up on the struggle for life, his father and father in law accompanied him to the other side of life, so he didn’t travel alone. He also said he was now happy and free from pain, and he wanted me to remember him as he was, rather than the trauma of that final morning.
Over the years, I often found myself thinking ‘What would Dad do?’ when I faced difficult choices or navigated challenges, and it seemed as if the answer just came to me, either instantaneously or within a few hours. I believed then, and I know now, that Dad was indeed advising and encouraging me from the other side of life.
Fast forward to 2018, and I was facing a very difficult time as my husband progressed through his final illness, which brought violent mood swings in its wake. By now, I had turned to meditation and spirituality in an effort to achieve peace of mind, and had also completed a psychic development course. This caused me some much-needed hilarity one night when I came home from a session. Tony, my husband didn’t believe in what I was doing, and asked if I’d been ‘Talking to Daddy.’ Quick as a flash, I replied, ‘Yes, and he says he’s looking forward to meeting you next week!’
Tony was having trouble coming to terms with his own mortality, so it was a bit of a low blow on my part. In my defence, though, I am almost certain Dad put that thought in my head. It was the sort of thing he’d have come out with in life! Then again, I am definitely my father’s daughter, so perhaps the put down was mine after all.
When I first started to read oracle and angel cards at development circle, I was very nervous when it came to my turn, but all of a sudden, I smelled tobacco, but not just any old tobacco, it was the distinctive, pungent aroma of Senior Service, the cigarettes he smoked. I thought I was imagining it, as it was a no smoking house, but other members of the circle could also smell it, and that gave me the confidence to go on and read the cards. I’ve never looked back since, and reading cards is a big part of my work today.
Like many people starting on their spiritual path, I tended to wonder if I was really sensing things or if it was wishful thinking, but because others picked up the same aroma, it gave me confidence that I was truly connecting with Spirit, and it wasn’t my imagination. These days, I recognise Dad’s energy as soon as he comes through, but in those early days of my development, he would announce his arrival with the tobacco and a hand on my shoulder, which was a gesture I remembered from childhood.
In 2018, on the 50th anniversary of Dad’s passing, I felt the need to go to the local spiritualist church. Sure enough, Dad came through for the medium, and told me everything was going to be okay, although I had some difficult times to navigate through over the next few months, and I’d have to make some tough choices if I wanted to be happy again. He was right – less than four months later, my dog Paddy was killed in front of me with a knife that was meant for me during one of my husband’s mood swings. For my own safety, I had no choice but to leave my husband, and in April 2020, he passed to Spirit and finally found peace.
Perhaps the most crucial service my Dad performed for me from beyond the grave was bringing Tony’s spirit to me for forgiveness before his passing. My Mum came too, explaining that Tony’s guilt was holding him back, and also they felt I needed closure, so that I could move on and remember the good times I’d shared with Tony over our 30 years together, rather than the last traumatic months.
The detailed account is in my book, The Soul Cave, but essentially, Mum and Dad brought Tony’s spirit to me twice, on the Tuesday afternoon and also on Wednesday, as Tony couldn’t believe I had truly forgiven him. On Thursday, at 3.30 pm, 24 hours after I had assured him for the second time that I forgave him, as his illness was responsible for his actions, he passed to Spirit, and 24 hours after that, Tony came to me and thanked me for the loving obituary I had written for him. Since then I have been able to remember him with love. And as Dad foretold five years ago, I am happy again.
I would dearly have loved to have my Dad sharing my life growing up, but it wasn’t possible. However, I am so grateful to have him mentoring me from beyond the grave. And because he has been, and still is, such a big support with my spiritual work, he’s part of my book in more ways than one. I write as Sandra Francis because that was his Christian name. It’s a fitting reminder that although he isn’t physically with me, he walks beside me in my work and in my life.
It’s been 55 years since I last spoke to you Dad, but I have never stopped loving you and I think of you all the time. Thanks for everything you do, and for still being my Dad from the other side of life. Until we meet again.