So there I lay under the FULLISH MOON
and I lay there and I lay there thinking about a lot of silly things, like what green vegetable I could serve Sunday with the spaghetti and meatballs, when we celebrated our ancestors on Día De Los Muertos.
"Aha," I said. "Escarole!" Steamed greens, with lots of garlic and olive oil just like Mom and Grandma Mish used to make it.
So I texted my sister Holly and she responded:
"You're dreaming of escarole at midnight? Why you up so late?"
"Can't get to sleep. But I took a long bath and shower so now I am bathed clean."
"You should see what I've been up to," Holly said. "I took all the letters that Dad and Grandma exchanged during World War II and put them in sheet protectors and organized them in a binder."
"Sweet," I replied. "I bet there's a lot of love in those letters."
"Yes!" she said. "Imagine poor Grandma Albina, having two sons in Europe during the war!"
"Well, so, bring them to the ancestors' party on Sunday!"
There was a pause in the texting and then I wrote:
"Right now I am staring at the full moon outside the window and it was exactly this way the night you called me when Dad passed about 1:30 or two in the morning. You said you felt a lot of presences in that room guiding him to the beyond."
"I did feel them. And now I have Dad's and Grandma's voices in my head from reading the letters all day."
"How cool," I said. Pause. Yawning, I wrote. "I'm getting sleepy watching the moon and thinking about Dad."
She sent three emoji PINK SPARKLING HEARTS.
I texted: "Dad is a powerful presence in my mind and heart."
"Yes," Holly said, "I feel like Dad is very much around."
I told Holly that my daughter Lindsay (on the left) texted me after reading a chapter and said that her astrologer had just said "the full moon is making a very powerful time for ancestors to come forward."
"OH GOOD," Holly cried.
And then out of the blue, because I was feeling bad that I still didn't have any photos of Grandpa ANGELo's family for my book, I wrote: "Do you have any pictures of Grandpa ANGELo's mother and father?
But what came out instead was this:
"Do you have any pictures of Grandpa ANGELo's mother and father father?"
FATHER FATHER. TWO FATHERS!
"HEY HAW SOMETHING WEIRD JUST HAPPENED WHEN I WROTE THAT LAST TEXT."
"Yes, what happened?
I wrote the word "father," once, BUT WHAT CAME OUT WAS
"Oh Caw," she wrote, "maybe Siri is drunk!"
and I said
"THAT COULD BE DAD HAW!"
(Here is Holly with Dad with baby Lindsay)
"Maybe it is Dad Caw."
I wrote: "Now I'm wide awake and I will never get to sleep Haw!"
"That's OK," I said, "I can sleep tomorrow."
"I really want to have an out of body experience," Holly said.
"OH THAT WOULD BE COOL."
"I think dying is like waking up from a dream..."
I offered this: "Mary says there is no death." I yawned again. Finally I was really tired. But for some reason I was scrolling through my vast collection of photos on my iPhone just looking for what I wasn't sure.
I came to a series of photos of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., photos I took years ago.
One photo took my breath away:
"OMG HAW THIS GUY IN THE PHOTO LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE DAD IS STANDING THERE EVEN THE JACKET IS DAD'S JACKET!"
"OMG It really does. How I wanted to bring Dad to see that memorial before he died! But at least now he can go wherever he wants to go."
At that point my husband, another Richard, who was lying next to me trying to sleep woke up. Between the clattering of the virtual keyboard and the swishing back and forth of the texts in the quiet of the night I was making way too much noise. I texted:
"YES YES Dad is free to go anywhere. Look Richard is getting really mad at me so I have to go. Good night, sweet dreams. I love you and we'll talk tomorrow, bye bye Haw, have a good night!"
"I love you Caw!!! Good night Richard!"
And there I lay still awake. I lay that way for another 20 minutes when my phone beeped again.
Trying not to wake my husband, I rolled over and picked up the phone and this is what I saw:
Holly -- who has a slew of family photos in several huge piles in her basement -- was writing in all caps:
"I SWEAR CAW A FEW MINUTES AGO I ASKED DAD FOR HELP IN FINDING THE PICTURE OF GRANDPA ANGELO'S FAMILY AND SUDDENLY I WAS GUIDED TO IT!
I gasped. I looked at the moon. I felt Dad in my heart, just like Mary said I would.
"DAD DID IT HAW, YES, HE FOUND THE PHOTO FOR YOU!"
And that photo was exactly what I had been looking for to put into the LEAH HEAL HEAL LEAH book.
Holly paused. "And then I said thank you very much Dad. And then I got a wonderful chill all over my body. Like he was there with me!"
"YES," I texted, my heart pounding. "I FEEL HIM HERE AND BEING THERE WITH YOU TOO!"
And then I added, "That's how Mary said the ancestors would come, their presence would hit you right
And then I inserted a heart emoji.
By then it was after two am, and the FULLISH MOON was still staring at me from the window, and I thought of Dad's passing, and his coming back
And then I recalled something else.
Dad spent hundreds and hundreds of hours compiling his grandfather, Pasquale Orzo's family tree years back. That was his mother's side of the family.
And here, now, by producing the Ricci family photo, with Grandpa Angelo sitting on the floor farthest to the left, Dad was helping to
family story too.