Sunday, November 17, 2013
My father was the kind of person people naturally flocked to. A high school teacher and proud Marine, Dad was a natural entertainer who loved telling stories and making music.
Dad played a dozen brass instruments, from the trumpet to the flugelhorn. But that wasn’t the only kind of music Dad could make. He loved birds and could reproduce many birdsongs so authentically, he’d often call birds to him!
Sometimes, after Dad passed away, I’d hear a trill of birdsong and, my heart aching, I’d half kiddingly, half seriously tell my kids, “There’s your grandpa, visiting us from Heaven!”
Then, last year, when my husband and I were visiting Topsail Island, North Carolina, I was delighted to discover that we were only 30 miles from Camp LeJeune, where Dad had served in the 1950s.
We decided to visit, and arriving on the base, my heart gave a tug. It was exactly as Dad had described it to my sister and me years ago! He’d told us about being on patrol, setting the scene so vividly I could almost hear the birds singing in the tall pine trees.
Dad’s stories had instilled such a sense of patriotism and gratitude in me that today, whenever I see a Marine, I just want to hug him. Of course, I also want to hug Marines because they remind me of Dad.
So as we drove onto the base, I was deeply moved by the Marines in uniform and the dozens of hand-lettered signs posted on the fence from the main gate to the visitor center. Welcome home, Lance Corporal Stevens! I read. Welcome home, Daddy, so many others said. We missed you.
Oh Dad, I signed. How I miss you.
But in the very next moment, a bird began to sing—and sing and sing! In fact, that bird wouldn’t stop singing.
“My dad is here!” I told my husband, tears shimmering in my eyes.
When we walked inside, two Marines greeted us, and my husband started chatting with one of them. Shyly, I explained, “My father was stationed here over 50 years ago. I’ve always wanted to visit.”
Then, more boldly, I asked “Can I take a photo with you?”
“Sure!” the handsome young Marine smiled. So my husband took out his camera and snapped a photo. Then he asked, “What’s your name, soldier?”
The young man replied, “Nelson.”
“Really?” I gasped, hardly able to believe it. “That was my father’s name!” And suddenly, I
knew without a shadow of a doubt: Dad was touring Camp LeJeune with me that day, and he’d sent all kinds of signs to let me know, including a visit with—and hug from—a proud and handsome Marine who shared his name!
my story was featured in Woman’s World - Nov 4, 2013 ISSUE
in the My Guardian Angel section on p. 38