Continuing Hallows theme of dark and fright, a jolt in my slumber this one heavy night.
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It was in the middle of the night, about 3:00 AM on a Monday. I had been sleeping very well considering the last five days of severe stress from sudden, painful, unexpected family events. It hadn’t taken long for me to fall asleep. I was utterly drained, mentally and emotionally. Suddenly, something woke me, alarmed! I sat up in my bed fully awake and listening acutely for any noise, any motion, as if someone had broken in. I was sure someone, something jolted me up. But I couldn’t be certain, yet. Was I dreaming? Was it so real it forced me out of my sleep sitting straight up, fully conscious waiting for the burglar to make another noise? In those seconds I could have heard even the tiniest critter moving across the floor or in the kitchen or living room my senses were so sharp. Never in my life had I awakened like that in half a second, completely aware of myself and surroundings!
But I have started at the end of my Hallows story, five days later.
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It is Wednesday evening, July 18, 1990. I had returned to my apartment in Jackson, MS from my workday. It wasn’t any extraordinary day. No one at the psych hospital had a Code Red. No emergency admissions by attempted suicide or court-ordered commitment, just a normal day. I was ready to relax, make dinner, and decompress. Then my phone rang.
On the other end (over 400 miles away) was my Mom bawling, upset that she struggled to say hello and begin telling me why she called. This is the first time in my life I have ever heard my Mom so upset she could barely speak and seemed to be near hyper-ventilation. My nerves, heart-rate, and perspiration rise quickly because I am so not prepared to hear what she is about to tell me. “Mom, take a deep breath” I tell her, “slow down, breathe…” however, in my mind I am not so sure I want her to gather herself to explain why she is calling in this manner. A few minutes pass when she calms herself enough to talk.
“I am leaving your Dad. I am moving out.” I lose my breath now. This is a blindsided blow to me. Not once in my childhood, adolescent, or teen years did I ever see or hear things so bad between them that Mom would apparently be forced out or have the need to move out, away from my Dad. Sure they had their differences like all married couples by their 28th year of marriage. Yes, they had their heated arguments, but those were so few and far between, at least as much as my sister and I could perceive. There were a handful of times they’d disappear behind locked door or private moments we had to remain detached from and unaware. But THIS was nothing like any of those.
Mom shared a little more what she felt was appropriate, that she was only moving out for a separation, not divorce. But then she described Dad’s mental and emotional state to me. “I am very worried about your Dad” she said while choking and clearing her throat. I still couldn’t find a response. “He is not doing well. He only eats a small bowl of oatmeal in the morning.” she begins to cry again, “When he gets home from work, only his childhood favorite… peanut butter and butter on a slice of bread.” I know this about Dad because during the Second World War, he, Granny, and Grandpa had to ration what little food was available in a small town outside of Galveston, TX. That was two meals Dad would usually eat for a day. “He has been like this for over 4-weeks, maybe more. Nothing around the house is getting done.” Now I have words. Upset, I firmly ask “WHY hasn’t anyone told me this!?”
Mom answers me, but it is that typical explanation from their generation: It isn’t your problem or baggage. You carry your weight or more. You don’t wear so many heavy emotions on your sleeve for everyone and their uncle to see or hear! You chin-up, get up and carry on.
Right. Meanwhile, I am clueless and handicapped in helping, much less initiating help! This has always infuriated me about my parents and their generation. My Dad, an ex-U.S. Marine (scream Semper Phi!!!), is ten-times worse than Mom! I jump ahead now to return to my All Hallows theme…
It is Friday evening, July 20, 1990. As Mom had requested, I waited a day before calling Dad. In a very somber voice and manner Dad confirms everything Mom has told me. Where he struggles to keep down his intense emotions are when my questions involve Mom and their marriage, their teamwork or their lack of now. “I do not want to speak bad about your mother.” he would pause to compose himself, “I refuse to do that. It’s unfair to you and your sister.” What do you say when your father is right, but contesting him is so horribly inappropriate at the moment?
I moved on to other problems there: tasks, chores, cleaning, all rooms inside, work outside in the yard. “Mom and Carolyn (sister) tell me that lots of things are not getting done there.” I prepared myself for some sort of backlash or angered reply, perhaps something completely unexpected. Silence. “I am going to come home tomorrow for the weekend and help around the house” I told him. “At least I can do that.” He said no. He explained that I had no need to miss work because your mother and I cannot workout our problems. He said convincingly that traveling that far was ridiculous and risky for my job-future. “We will try to work this out. Stay there.” he sounded more upbeat, genuine, “Do not come home, not yet.” Reluctantly I agreed, but we planned I’d come home the following weekend to help him around the house. Then he said some things he had never said to me before that I could not easily recollect…
“I realize I have rarely said ‘I love you’ most of your life.” My heart-rate and nerves are returning, “I should’ve said it much more, but…” he paused again. “I do love you. I just share it in other ways. I hope you knew that.” I acknowledged his unique habits and stoic tough military personality and said I understood. I returned the uncommon sentiments with sincere empathy and love.
It is now Monday early, early morning about 3:00 AM, July 23, 1990. As I started in this story I was jolted awake, convinced someone had broken in the apartment. I had seconds to do something. I was remarkably sharp and aware of everything. I sat there upright in bed listening for any noise, any motion to confirm or deny my first thoughts, first fears. I was convinced someone was in my bedroom! For some 30-45 seconds I did not hear anything. I did not see anything, in the dark, but I kept silent and upright. Not long after a minute or two of complete silence and motionless in bed, I felt this air of reassuring calm and peace come over me and into me. It was such a peculiar sensation given the moment. And as fast as I had been awakened I laid back down and immediately fell back into my prior deep sleep.
That morning I remembered how very strange the night had been and asked my roommate if he had come in, then went back out, or some other logical simple reason it happened. He told me no, he wasn’t even there. He was staying overnight at his girlfriend’s place. I dropped it, not intending to think anymore about it other than weird. Simply weird and way out of the ordinary for me.
It is Tuesday morning, July 24, 1990. My phone rings. It is my brother-in-law and I immediately sense something is wrong. He doesn’t call me on his own, or from his phone. It’s always with my sister. And in a shaky voice, pleading, he tells me “Dwain, you have to come home now, as soon as possible.” Jeff tries to gather himself, “Your Dad killed himself. I found him down in the garage inside the car because he wasn’t answering the phone for three days straight.” His breathing gets heavier, faster. “Your Mom is in a complete meltdown.” he sounds increasingly desperate, “I’m handling your sister as best I can, but you have to get home fast.”
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Weeks later, maybe a month or so, I can’t remember exactly, the coroner and detective on the case tell us that Dad’s time of death was either late Saturday night, July 21 or sometime July 22, 1990. He said it was likely Sunday, July 22nd. It wasn’t until my life and my family’s lives returned to a degree of normalcy that I connected the dots. Or rather the bizarre coincidence of my unusual late night disturbance (of some kind) July 22-23 that jolted me awake and what the coroner and detective determined for Dad’s time of death.
I didn’t know it then that July night/morning it would be the last time I spoke to my father and those would be our last words together. What is fact is that I am certain of everything I’ve written here and I am 100% certain that whatever it was that jolted me out of my deep sleep to instant, acute awareness feeling someone was in my bedroom, was Sunday/Monday, July 22 or 23, 1990. What made it more bizarre was how soon after that weird sensation of going back into a calm and profound sleep so easily.
What is it that goes on, operates within the aether, moves in the atomic, subatomic, and Quantum range or wavelengths? Why is the infamous witching hour traditionally around 3:00 AM? Einstein agonizingly called it “spooky action at a distance.” What can be said and surmised about the thermodynamic law, in those unseen atomic/quantum levels known as Conservation of Mass/Energy? What I can share about it on a personal basis and incident is weird, bizarre, though I cannot prove it to anyone. But as I am writing this right now, on my honor it was quite real. That’s what I know. It’s all I can say, granted, during what was an extremely traumatic time in my life. It is my one and only Hallows true-story for the season.
Feel free to share your own favorites of fall and the season’s Hallows? Share your most spooky weird stories, special beloved celebrations, how you and/or your family decorate your home—pics will be required! What about meals or snacks prepared and enjoyed, or better still what astonishing events of paranormal activity have you experienced personally or heard from a close, good (dignified) friend! You have until November 1st to remember them and comment throughout this Hallows theme.
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