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Mysterious Ways: Last Conversation

There was so much I had wanted to ask Dad. I never even got to say goodbye.

By Linda Kipley, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

“These are ruined,” I sighed, tossing a pile of water-damaged cassette tapes in the trash. I’d found them in a box of Dad’s stuff that I’d brought home after he died. I hated to throw them away, but a flood had waterlogged all of the flimsy cardboard boxes in my storage room.

Most of the items inside had been wrecked, and I worried about mold getting to whatever was left. What else could I do?

It had been almost 13 years since I’d lost Dad. He had passed so suddenly that I never got to say goodbye. I hadn’t found the courage to sort through his things... until now. Thank God for the flood, I thought, a little sarcastically.

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I thought about the last time we spoke. Dad had struggled with his faith in the last five years of his life, after Mom had passed away. So I was happy to hear him in good spirits when he called.

“You’ll never believe what happened to me last night,” he’d said. “I had the most incredible dream. It put my heart at ease. There’s more, but long story short, I’m going to get baptized this “That’s amazing!” I said. “I’m so happy, Dad. What was the dream about? You’ve got to tell me all the details.”

“It’s too much for over the phone,” he said. “I’ll tell you all about it when I see you in a couple of months.” But he never got the chance. Just before he planned to visit, he died of a heart attack.

A few of the tapes left in the box looked salvageable, so I tested one in my cassette player. Van Morrison’s voice floated from the speaker, “Have I told you lately that I love you?” Nice message, but not who I needed to hear it from.

I dumped the remaining tapes in the garbage and began to tie up the bag. Then I felt a nudge. Listen to one more. I plucked out a tape, loaded it in, and pressed play. The speakers boomed with my father’s voice. “I had the most incredible dream...”

His dream was a conversation with God. When Dad awoke, he was ready to commit himself to faith. “Just as I was about to leave for church, the preacher showed up on my doorstep,” Dad said. “He’d had a dream that night too! It compelled him to come and ask if I would be baptized.”

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It felt as though Dad was sitting across from me in the room, delivering the last words I’d wanted so badly to hear.

This time I prayed wholeheartedly. Thank God for the flood.