I’m not a person that believes in ghosts or spirits. Nor can I claim to be religious. I do believe that our awareness does persist after death in some fashion. However, I also have a deep respect for science and the laws of chance. A few things have happened to me during my life that any mathematician would agree were way outside the possibility of chance. Like the time I was in downtown Los Angeles thirty years ago.
The drive shaft of my one-ton Dodge van fell out and rolled into the gutter. I lived in Lake County, and no one I knew lived anywhere near where I was. Being pretty much alone and without a driveshaft, I was up the creek. To my amazement and great surprise, who among the million residents of Los Angeles should walk up to my window at that same instant as I sat trying to decide what to do next, but my son, Gene.
After our surprised and happy hello’s, Gene said, “Hi Dad,” he said. “I didn’t know you were in town. Is anything wrong?”
I told him my sad story, still wondering how he happened to be at that particular place at the particular time. He lived twenty miles away in Mission Hills. The long and the short of it was he took me to a wrecking yard, we picked up a drive shaft that fit my Van, and he helped me put it in while we were parked.
Now I come to the even stranger story that prompted this tale.
I live in the house that my wife, Jeannette and I built forty years ago when we came to Witter Springs. Yesterday, after watering my eight fruit trees, I was walking up the steps from my garage (which is twenty feet below my house) to my front porch. I stopped on the landing that divides the eighteen steps going up. The hillside at the edge of the steps is a pretty place. I had weed-whacked the grass neatly the week before and the entire hillside, from the house to the eight-tree orchard below, and from the steps to all the way around to the back of the house, was dry as hay and cut short to the ground. Nothing was left to grow until the next rain.
That hillside and the spot on the hill next to the landing is special. I plan to live in that house until I die. When Jeannette, my dear wife of fifty years, died, my family and I had a goodbye ceremony. I spread her ashes in that place on the hill next to the landing. Ever after, since her passing, whenever I go up or down those steps, I always stop a moment on the landing to reflect or speak with her.
I am generally a happy person, but I miss her. On that afternoon, I was especially thinking about her. As I stopped on the landing to say hello and speak to her, I saw something that made me think. Growing in the dry wasteland of the cut grass hillside, and in the very same spot where I spread her ashes, a single flower the size of a quarter had miraculously sprouted out of the ground.
Jeannette’s favorite color and many of her dresses and other clothing she liked to wear were purple. She loved the color purple and said so often. That lone flower, growing a dozen feet from where I stood, was purple. I think this time Jeannette answered me.
Epilogue: I went out the next day to check my well in the field. Coming back, as I climbed the steps from the garage to my front porch, I stopped again to see the purple flower. It was still there, but there was another one twenty feet farther down the hill. I supposed it had all been chance after all. None of that mattered. I know she hears me.
Second Epilogue: I had an occasion a day later to walk up those same stairs. This time, despite there is no more grass on the hill, hundreds of tiny snow-white flowers had popped up on the hill. It is a pretty hill.
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