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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.
Richmond Hill, New York