Sunday, October 9, 2011

Perception

I never knew my grandparents on my mother's side. When my mother was eleven years old, her father moved her and her mother to Detroit to start a new job. Her older brothers were both off fighting in World War 2.

As most people were in 1945, they were poor and looking for work anywhere they could. Her mother had found employment driving military trucks from Detroit, where they were made, to destinations all over the country. Her father found work in a small Detroit factory.

This world was evolving a little too fast for this man from Northern Michigan. Just the thought of the new trains traveling at " a mile-a-minute " scared him enough to leave his job with the railroad and make the move to Detroit.

He was Native American and believed this world was in trouble the way things were going. He was also very superstitious. There were just some things he would not do because of his combination of beliefs. One of his biggest fears was the day, Friday the thirteenth. He did not like to even set foot out the door on that day. He said, "No good could come from it"

It was August 1945 and the thirteenth was approaching. He told his new employer that he would not be able to work that day being that it was also a Friday. His boss replied by telling him that if he didn't show up, then he could forget about his job all together.

The night of the twelfth, he dreamed of white horses trampling over him. He awoke many times in the night sweating and catching his breath from "running from the horses". The morning of the thirteenth finally came. He sat at the table drinking his coffee and explaining to my grandmother that he had seen his own death. She comforted him and made him some oatmeal. He refused to eat it, saying his stomach was too upset.

As he walked out the door, his wife called to him saying that he'd forgotten his lunch pail. He responded telling her that he "would be going home before lunch".

At 9:45am on Friday, August 13, 1945 there was a freak explosion involving chemicals and a heat source that instantly leveled the front of the factory and set the remainder ablaze. After the fire department extinguished the flames, my grandfather could not be located. It was hours later when a newspaper delivery boy came up to a fireman and told him there was a black man sitting against the back door of the small factory. Upon investigation, they found it was in fact a Native American, not a "black man". He'd squatted down to smoke his pipe on his first break of the day when a burst of flames engulfed him from inside the factory. My grandfather never saw it coming except for the white horses the night before.

This ability to "see" things has been handed down in our family. My mother claims that when her brother had an accident in California, she was awakened by her mother, that had died many years prior, and told of it. Only to have the phone ring a couple hours later with the official news. And when my cousin was killed in an auto accident, there were several of us that knew before we were told. I have one sister that seems to be very connected to "the other side". She's learned to deal with it the best she can.

Then there is me...
From an early age, I have seen people that no one else seems to see. They always seem lost or surprised that I was looking at them. I've never been afraid of any of them. There has always been a peacefulness about the whole experience. None have ever startled me, until one evening a few years ago.

Seventeen years ago, I had my house built. There was never a house here before. Only a farm field. The nearest cemetery is over a mile away. There has never been a death in my house other than a cat, rabbit and the occasional house plant. I have never experienced anything at any of the funeral homes that I work at and never had my work "follow me home".

So there I was at the kitchen sink. My dog Pugsley was laying by the front door. You can see the door from the kitchen so we could keep an eye on each other. Suddenly he started growling. It was a warning type growl. I asked him what was the matter and as I turned too see him, there between us stood a familiar young man with a long face. He seemed very sad. I couldn't quite place where I knew him from. Startled, I tried to refocus, thinking that I was seeing things. That's when he disappeared. Pugsley came running to me very scared and was uneasy the rest of the night.

It was about a week later when the young man returned. This time, I was alone in my home office. I was working on the computer and could sense someone standing behind me. When I turned, I knew exactly who it was.

Years earlier, I lost a good friend to suicide. He'd called me at work wanting to talk. When I told him I couldn't talk and that I'd come over after work, I had no idea it was the last time, I'd hear his voice. I blamed myself for not being able to be there for him. I carried that blame around for more than twenty years. That night, through my brief encounter with him on that second evening, alone in my office, I was able to put that guilt to rest. His problems were his own. There was nothing that I could have done. As hard as we perceived it to be to handle his death, it's what needed to happen for everything to be just the way it is today. He was able to release me from my guilt and I was able to forgive him. I'm very fortunate to have had that experience and I'm happy that I am better experienced to help when someone else is going through the pain of suicide.

I believe that we each create our own world. That we let people instill fear in us. We almost welcome it. My grandfather created a life of fear for himself. While he had nothing to do with the explosion that took his life, he created the world around him that took him out the back door to smoke his pipe, instead of joining the other workers down the street for coffee. He lived in fear of the Great War and died two days before it ended.

My friend let others in his life lead him to believe that he was no good. He called me that night before his death because I was good to him. He needed some love. But sometimes people don't reach out. Sometimes, they just want to disappear. So we all need to show our love to our friends and family the best way we can. We don't all get that second chance to say what we need to say. So we better get it right the first time, or keep trying.

Finally, I was reminded today of an analogy. It says that most people think that perception is like a flashlight in the dark, illuminating whatever it is aimed at. The truth, however, is that instead of revealing what is there, it creates it.
Your perception of the world, creates your world.
If that's true, then why not perceive something nice. And then share with others, your amazing world.

5 comments:

Jim said...

That last paragraph says it all, Stew. Great post man!
I agree that some people do have that 'sense' to perceive things before it happens.
Case in point....the night my brother died in another city, a phone call came to my parent's house. It was the police. She told everyone there NOT to answer the phone. She knew what it was. Of course it was answered and her fears were realized.
Don't know how this happens and why only certain people have this ability.
In the case of your grandfather,maybe he had acquired a greater sense of spirituality from his ancestors.....and this has been passed on to you and your sister.

MorningAJ said...

Interesting. I come from a long line of what's called 'wise women' in certain circles. Sometimes I know things and can't tell you how. I understand this post.

snafu said...

Hi Stew, I have just wandered across to your post, having often seen your comments in another blog we both follow. You have an interesting perspective on life and you create interesting posts.
I am not sure seeing things is confined to any particular peoples, it happens all over. It may be that the culture you have inherited allows you to be more aware of these things and less likely to dismiss them. I have heard of many stories of people seeing, or talking to the dead and I have personally experienced what felt like visits from people I knew well, as far as I could ascertain, at the exact time of their death, long before I was informed they had died. However, I do not believe in the supernatural. As far as I am concerned, if something happens then it is natural. The only difference between super natural and natural is that we do not yet understand how it happens.
Changing the subject, reading some of your comments, I guess you are not too familiar with our very crowded country. I have recently been touring around the US and can see why you find it so different. I found your country very welcoming - and very big. We were able to drive in a single day further than you can go back here, without running off the edge and falling into the sea.

John Gray said...

nicely written and personal

a little more of a glimpse into your world

Stew said...

Thanks for all of your comments. This was a very personal post.

Some may say that our connection to the other side is a perceived one. Perhaps that is true. No, it's not unique to any one kind of people, unless you consider people that are connected to the earth and the spiritual world to be a "kind of people" no matter what breed. I say breed, because we are all of the same race. We are all brothers and sisters and need to treat each other accordingly.