In this after-death communication, devoted husband, Carl, visits his beloved wife, Mary Ann, through shoulder taps, hugs, his reoccurring initials, “CH” and a hill-side smiling house.
Mary Ann met Carl when she was fifteen-years old. Leaving the church bazaar one night with their mutual friend, Debbie, there he was, standing outside the subway station in Chinatown. It was dark and difficult to see, but Carl still managed to get Mary Ann’s telephone number.
When he called her, she asked, “It was so dark that night, what made you think you would like the way I looked?” Jokingly, sixteen-year old Carl teased, “I thought I’d take my chances!”
They clicked immediately. The phone calls between them lasted hours at a time. And, at some point early on, Carl found himself deeply in love with Mary Ann and pressed her for her love in return. Mary Ann queried, “I’m fifteen, what would I know of love?” Carl was her first steady boyfriend. It was only after a 2-3 week break-up of missing Carl in her life that Mary Ann realized just what love is… and it was the way she felt for Carl! After getting back together again, their love blossomed. And from that time on, they were solid and inseparable!
Sharing their love for dancing, they began taking dance lessons together. These lessons metaphorically would become an important part of the foundation which would allow for them to move freely with an enjoyable ease throughout their lives together.
That was sixty-two years ago when their stars aligned.
Throughout their long fifty-seven years of blissful marriage, Carl did everything for Mary Ann, as this was how he loved and adored her. Mary Ann smiles when she tells me Carl wanted to make it hard for anyone to take his place. And of course, no one could.
Reflecting back with fondness, Mary Ann recalls how Carl had this special love for her. “Unconditional” was the word she used. Lovingly, she shared stories of Carl waiting patiently in the car while she shopped. Finally, only after surfacing once again to appear at the car with bags in hand, would she be greeted by Carl’s warm smile; he was always so happy to see her. Just to demonstrate Carl’s patience, at one after-Christmas sale, Carl waited four hours on a Mall bench while Mary Ann shopped the sales! Now, that’s devotion!
Truly his Queen, Carl would open Mary Ann’s creamer and sugar packet for her morning coffee. And, one of her fondest memories was of Carl’s tender treatment of her. While at the department store, as if to read the price, Carl pulled Mary Ann’s hand over the price checker and said, “Priceless” as Mary Ann blushed with elation. “He was an extremely affectionate fellow”, Mary Ann adds, “When we were in the car, he would pull my hand over to touch him. He said he was like a dog who needed to be always touched or patted.” Mary Ann was the end-all and be-all to Carl.
Carl was a good man. Although small in stature, he towered in greatness, as he was determined, smart, funny, loving and compassionate. Naturally, it was a delight to be around a man of this caliber. But for Mary Ann, this man was not only honorable and kind, this man was the love of her life. And… her King, too. Together, they had three sons, one daughter, and two beautiful grandchildren.
Just over a month before Carl’s passing, the happy couple took a 30-day Mediterranean cruise. Since they LOVED to dance together, they set a goal to dance every single night. Watching them was inspiring! People were impressed and complimented them on how well they moved together and how cute they were as a couple. And, of course, that one dance… ALWAYS turned into many more! The video below is their last dance together on Earth. It was within days of his passing. After the dance, Carl’s kiss on Mary Ann’s face is precious.
One morning, five days after returning home from their trip, Mary Ann noticed that Carl was trying to get out of a chair. “I can’t get up!”, he said, and kept trying. But neither one thought much about it at the time. Perhaps Carl was still tired from the trip, or maybe it was just an impact of living a long life. Mary Ann reached out and hugged him before leaving for her hair appointment.
After her hair was done, Mary Ann went to the market. She called Carl, but there was no answer, so she left the message, “Are you okay?” but didn’t know why at the time. Then, she bought the Hawaiian sweet rolls that Carl loved so much before returning home.
Walking through the front door, she heard the shower running. “I’m home!” she hollered. After changing her clothes, she opened the bathroom door only to find Carl slumped over in the tub. Having no success in rousing him, she called 911. When the EMT arrived on the scene, he sadly inform Mary Ann that her husband had passed away. “Are you sure?” she pleaded. “Can I see him?”
During those last precious moments between them, Mary Ann kissed Carl tenderly. Carl looked so peaceful. Mary Ann was grateful to be able to say her sweet goodbyes, for now. But only for now.
And, although she had always been the light of his life, her light was now dimmed by his absence. Her heart broken in two.
One week after Carl’s passing, Mary Ann was lying on her side when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Except, when she turned, no one was there!
Four months later, while attending a dance club, she met some women who invited her to sit at their table. Bored out of her mind, one of the ladies planned to be leaving soon. While wondering when she should leave, Mary Ann felt a tapping on her left shoulder. Thinking it was someone asking her to dance, she turned around to find no one was there! So Mary Ann left the dance, too.
While telling some friends about it, she revealed that she and Carl had a signal of 3 taps or squeezes of the hand. This meant, “I love you.” Thinking back, Mary Ann wondered out loud, “Now, was that two or three taps at the dance?” Suddenly a friend bursts out, “It was 3 taps! He was saying “Atta Girl!” Then, another friend said, “Get with the times! He said, You Go Girl!”
Then there was the time when Mary Ann was backing out of her usual parking place. She was backing instead of driving forward because someone had parked in front of her, and this was very unusual. As she was carefully maneuvered her car from the curb, the license plate in front of her jumped out to get her attention. “Atta Girl!” it encouraged.
Since that time, Mary Ann has seen Carl’s initials in a lot of places. Recently, when looking for a new car, she came out of the dealership and there was a truck with the letters CH on the license plates. Mary Ann has taken this as a sign that it would be okay to buy from this dealership if she chose to.
Mary Ann has an old voice message from Carl, that she discovered on her phone after his passing. Carl affectionately reminds Mary Ann, “Hello, in case you don’t see this on your e-mail, you can hear this message. This is a message for my Honey bunch (our pet name for each other). I love you my dear, with all my heart. And I will love you for all my life. Bye, dear.”
Mary Ann plays this recording nearly every night before lying down. She remembers Carl through his voice, messages of love and Carl’s picture that sits by her bedside. In the daytime, Carl’s picture sits on her counter where she can see and talk to him. It’s these rituals of sentiment that help to ease the pain, while reminding her of Carl’s ever-present love for her.
Commentary- When I ended up on a European river cruise this summer, I had no idea what I would experience or who I would meet. As it turned out, the first person I met was Mary Ann. As soon as she opened her mouth to tell me about her grief over losing her beloved husband just eight months earlier, and wondering why the heck, having still been so raw, she was on that trip in the first place, I knew this trip was Divinely guided for the both of us. We bonded instantly. She was so familiar to me. It was just as though she was a member of a family I knew and loved so long ago.
Then it was my turn. I told her of the work I did for the living… AND the dead. (Although our dear deceased loved ones are probably even more alive right now than we are!)
I told her of my loss, too. We took turns sharing back and forth with tears in our eyes. She told me of her after-death communications with Carl.
And then, there were the others who I met through Mary Ann and on my own, who incidentally, also had after-death communications to share. Cute Mary Ann would be out on the boat rounding them up for me. And as I found out toward the end of the cruise, this was mostly a senior citizen cruise; the average age being, 78, although Mary Ann didn’t look a day over forty!
I smiled to think that if we could just gracefully trust the process of life without getting ourselves caught up in the way, we would be led effortlessly to our intended destinations.
So, as we sat on the sun deck, Mary Ann told me of the beautiful story of her and Carl. Just as I was finishing taking down her final words, she said, “Oh look! That house up on that hill looks like Carl’s face, smiling!” Smiling myself, and thinking it was probably wishful thinking – I mean, how can a house look like someone’s face? But, I snapped the picture anyway, to blow up and take a look at later.
I walked Mary Ann to her room, where, for some unknown reason, I gave her this hug that I never give anyone. Like… EVER! As I hugged her, I rocked her side to side. “Well, that’s funny!” Mary Ann was a little surprised, “Carl used to hug that same way with his two nieces!” (These hugs are now fondly known as “Atta girl” hugs)
Because of his adoring love for her, Carl had always done everything for Mary Ann. He was truly devoted to her. So without him, all of the sudden she was left in the seemingly impossible situation of figuring out the finances, investments, insurance and all house and car maintenance. And, in the face of all her sorrow, this wasn’t an easy task. But there are those times things happen which cause us to grow and evolve. In this case, Mary Ann has had to, whether this was her lot to do so or not. And in having to fend for herself, Mary Ann has developed a greater appreciation, not only for Carl, but for herself as well. Although she would rather have Carl in her physical life, for she misses him terribly, she is left with the reality of her situation, which is… you can’t argue with the process of life and expect to win. It goes how it goes. It is for us to adapt, pursue our path to healing and make the best of what life’s process has handed us – knowing that in the end, we will somehow make it through.
Mary Ann listens to the message Carl left on her voice mail from so long ago. But, is this a message from the past or is it a message for the present too? I am convinced that our loved ones leave behind a way for us to make it through the pain of losing them. We have only to look, listen and feel, to know what this is and trust that their love for us will see us through to our eventual healing.
So, from the taps on the shoulder, to Carl’s “Atta Girl” encouragement for Mary Ann to carry on without him, and from the way Carl hugged Mary Ann through me (Atta girl hug), to the house with Carl’s face smiling down the hill on us, we know that Carl is guiding Mary Ann from beyond. Goodness, we know how devoted Carl was. Do you actually think Carl would let something as little as death stop him?
Although Carl physically left this world a year ago today, November 13, 2014, the gentleman Carl will spiritually escort Mary Ann throughout the rest of her life until one day, she passes through those glorious doors, too. And there… feeling the tap she knows so well, she will turn to find her beloved Carl standing there with his warm and patient smile, asking, “May I have this dance?
Oh, and by the way… later, when looking at that house on the hill, it really did look like Carl’s face smiling! It’s true. After that many years of being together, Mary Ann would surely know Carl’s face when she saw it!