Alan had a dream. He often corrected himself, calling it a “visitation,” when he shared it with others.
It wasn’t Alan’s first visitation with the dead. Others had come back to tell him something they thought he needed to hear them. The first came when he was seventeen. A dead aunt visited, warning him that his uncle was preparing to pass. Uncle Paul was his favorite, taking Alan on a fishing vacation every summer in an act of empathy that Alan didn’t appreciate for decades. Uncle Paul was so young, just forty-two, when he died of a heart attack while getting an Iron City beer from the frig. A Steeler game was on television. He wasn’t missed for almost a quarter. It was too late by then, back in that era. A snow storm was bruising the city, and the ambulance couldn’t get through.
There’d been other visitations since, but Granny’s visitation was one of the strongest, perhaps because he’d developed a comfort level with them by then. She’d only been dead for ten years, dying in nineteen ninety-six, a month short of one hundred years, yet, there she was, in one of her voluminous blue and white flowered dresses, in his room, accompanied by the smells from talcum powder and coffee. From Alan’s first memory on, she announced, “Let me make a pot of coffee, and we’ll sit awhile,” whenever his family visited her.
Addressing him in a stern but kind voice, she said. “Let Barbara do what she needs to do.” Not permitting time for a response, she was immediately gone.
On awakening, Alan thanked Granny for the visitation. It took a morning of thought through two large mugs of coffee before he accepted what she was telling him. Though it was probably going to pain him, he’d let Barbara do what she needed to do, whatever the hell that meant. He would just have to trust Barbara.
Really, he was trusting two people, if you think about it, maybe three.