Over the weekend, my Mom’s father-in-law passed away after a blessedly brief bout with Cancer. He was a kind man, and I’ll always remember his smile.
Yesterday was the viewing day at the funeral home, and seeing as our go-to babysitter was one of the prime mourners of the day, I had to bring the girls along.
As we got ready to go, I told them that we were going to Target, to the phone store, and then to see Grandma at a special place and that I’d explain it later. I didn’t know exactly what to say, but on the drive to Target, they asked where we were going to see Grandma, and I decided to just tell them the truth.
They know about their Pop-pop Doug (my Dad) and their Grandma June and Pop-pop John (my in-laws). They know they live in Heaven and that they are our special angels. So, I started by explaining that Pop-pop Jim’s daddy passed away and now he’s living with the Angels too.
“Are we going to see Angels?” Loopsy asked.
“No, baby. We don’t really see Angels, but we can feel them all the time.”
“I saw Angels, Mommy. On your ‘puter… They were made of stone.” Lala pointed out. Guess she was talking about the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who. Funny. I had no clue that she even noticed.
“Those are just statues. Not real. Not real Angels at all.”
“Where we going then?” Lala wondered.
“Well, when people pass away, their spirit goes to Heaven, but their bodies stay here on Earth. We are going to say goodbye to Pop-pop’s daddy’s body.”
At this point, I started to choke up.
“Um… why does it sound like you’re crying, Mommy?” Lala said.
“Well, I’m thinking of other people I love who I can’t see anymore. People I miss.”
“Like who, Mommy?” Loopsy asked.
“Like my Daddy and my Grandma.”
“I’m lucky, Mommy.” Lala pronounced.
“Why’s that, babe?”
“Because I don’t miss anybody.”
“Then you are lucky, sweetheart.”
This made me smile. Things are just so simple when you’re 4 and a half.
“But I know that my Daddy’s spirit and my Grandma’s spirit are with me all the time, so I’m lucky too.” I continue.
“What is a spirit?” Loopsy asked.
“Uh… Well…” Deep, right, Peeps? Man… “A spirit is the part of us inside. The part that feels and thinks and laughs and cries and moves our body to do things.”
“I think this is crazy.” Lala giggles.
“What’s crazy, baby?”
“That our spirit can leave our body.”
“Well, that is crazy. It’s hard to understand. Sometimes a body stops working right and the spirit has to leave.”
“It’s crazy.” Lala repeats.
“Is it sad?” Loopsy ponders.
“Yes, well, it is sad for the people who are still alive. They are sad that they won’t see the people they love again. But the spirits that go to Heaven still visit us and see us and help us.”
“Oh.” Kids just seem more accepting of these things. It’s lovely.
At this point, we pull into the Target parking lot and I decide to tell them about how my Angels helped me.
“Remember how I lost my phone at Target?”
“Yeah, Mommy. What did you do with it?” Loopsy prodded.
“Mommy where did you put it?” Lala pressed.
I sighed. Their Daddy kept asking me those same questions all day Sunday. Meh.
I helped them out of their car seats and we made our way to the store.
“I still have no idea what happened to it. But that day I asked my Angels to help me find it, and guess what? It was found! Isn’t that cool?”
“Can we climb on the big red balls?” Loopsy ran ahead.
“Just for a second…” I shook my head. Priorities, right? Why ARE those big red balls outside of Target anyway? Mysterious.
After I got the phone and we were back in the car, I told them to help me say thank you to my Angels. I said, “Say Thank You Angels!”
They repeated after me and then started hooting like owls.
I laughed, and then realized something…
“Why are you girls hooting?”
“I don’t know.” Loopsy laughed and then continued hooting.
“Maybe we’re Baby Owls.” Lala laughed and hooted too.
I got chills, Peeps.
My Mom-mom loved owls. She collected knick knacks, lamps, light switch plates, tee-shirts, costume jewelry… The girls have never met her. She passed just before I got married.
Guess I know which Angel found my phone, huh?
RIP Robert Engelbach, our newest Angel.