The Comeback

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During the senior year in College my father Charles Sauer died on his way home from his midnight-to-eight job. His  fatal heart attack in December 1971 did not  really surprise  my mother Elizabeth and me.

Dad had  refused  to see any  doctor after our family physician had  warned him five years earlier that his  days were numbered if he  persisted in  chain-smoking  and drinking  his daily quart or two of beer.

Once the first frenzied days of bereavement had passed ,  my mother returned  to work  and I to  school.  We grappled with feelings of grief and loss but we did not cling  to this  tragedy; we went on with our lives.

Then, in March 1972, I awakened a few  hours before  dawn in terror, shivering uncontrollably,  my heart pounding, Although I was in  the dark I knew  that  someone was  standing near my  bed. I could  feel a presence. Just as  suddenly as I realized a man was in the  room,  I knew it  was my  father.

I chided myself.  absurd, I though, the dead make house  calls only in  Halloween stories.  With all  the courage I could  summon,  I peeked  from under  my down  comforter and  switched on the night-light.

No one was in the  room. I dismissed the incident as a subconscious rebellion against the  stoicism with which I had  accepted  my father’s  death. The experience proved I was  human after all.  As I dressed the next morning, I resolved  not to say anything to my mother.

Even if I related  the incident  in a joking manner, I feared it would  upset her.  yet it had been so  vivid that I had to struggle to resist blurting out the  tale at breakfast. I need not have concerned myself.

“Don’t laugh,” Mother said, “but the strangest thing  happened to me last  night,  I woke up about 3:00 A.M. and  could have sworn your father was standing beside my bed.

When I finally found the courage to turn on the light, he  wasn’t there.” As if trying to convince herself, she continued, “Of course he wasn’t. How silly to let my nerves shake me up so!” I believe my father did visit us both that night. He had  not had  an opportunity to say farewell. I think he came back to  do just that.

Eileen Sauer

Richmond Hill, New York

October 1984

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