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A Father's Message

BY GRACE K.

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I have a friend named Jeff who had been my friend since grade school. Fast-forward, we are now in our early 20s. Jeff and his wife were over on a Friday evening and they were grilling out with my husband, kids, and me.

We received a frantic call from Jeff's sister looking for him. I handed the phone to Jeff and his face just went white. His sister told him that their parents were both killed in a car accident.

About a year after his parents' deaths, Jeff and his wife took some inheritance money and bought an old Amish farm. The house required major renovations to bring it up to "English" living standards. The second week after the farm purchase, my husband and I traveled up to the farm to see their new home and to help out with all the work needed to be done.

The first day there, we worked around the clock. That night after dinner we all sat around the fireplace and talked. About 10 p.m. we all decided to go to bed. The house had no electricity, running water, or bathroom indoors yet. My husband and I took the bedroom at the end of the hall.

We fell asleep the minute our heads hit the pillows. But the minute I fell asleep, I saw Jeff's dad sitting at a poker table with cards in hands. He was laughing and then he stopped. He looked me in the eyes and said, "Go tell Jeff it's going to be okay."

I woke right up. The house was black and dead silent. The thought of getting up and stumbling through a black, cold, silent house to go wake up Jeff and his wife to tell them I had a dream didn't seem reasonable. I started to doze off again when Jeff's dad was back at the table. This time he looked at me very seriously and said, "Go tell Jeff it's okay. Now!"

My eyes instantly popped open. I sat up, my husband was sound asleep. The house was perfectly still. I nudged my husband and he mumbled, "Leave me alone." I decided to try to go back to sleep.

I fell asleep and there was Jeff's dad again. This time his eyes were watered up and he said, "Please, go now and tell Jeff everything is going to be just fine!"

I woke again and sat up. I shook my husband until he woke up. I whispered, "Where is Jeff?" Then "Where is a flashlight?"

My husband whispered, "Go to sleep and knock it off." I sat awake for about a half hour and fell asleep until morning.

When I went downstairs in the morning, Jeff's wife was up and yawning. She quietly said to me, "After we all went to bed last night, Jeff sat on the couch and finally broke down over his parents' deaths." She went on to tell me that Jeff had never cried or talked about his feelings toward his parents' deaths until last night. She said she tried to comfort him, but he asked me to just go to bed and leave him alone to think.

I asked, "Did Jeff's dad play poker a lot?"

She smiled and said, "Yes, he was obsessed with it and played every weekend with his buddies for years."

Later that afternoon, when Jeff and I were alone in the barn working, I told him this story. He stared at me intently while I spoke. I saw his eyes light up and I knew: I finally got his dad's message to him.

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