Then the doorbell rang. Alexa grabbed her robe and went to see who could be visiting so early in the morning. Her day had already started badly and she was annoyed. The last thing she wanted were visitors on the only day she had off this month.
She swung the door open forcefully, ready for a fight. She found her father standing there, hat in hand. A big grin immediately covered Alexa's startled face. She reached up and hugged him for what seemed an eternity. It had been awhile since she’d last seen him. She stood back to take it all in, the tall man with the loving smile. She reached for his hands and lovingly looked at them; it was always the second thing she did after looking at his face. She loved his hands and missed them just as much as the man himself. Those were the hands that had always comforted her in life: how they held her safely on his lap when she was a tot; how they protected her from harm and offered her strength throughout life; how they comforted her in times of sadness. His hands had always had a language of their own and spoke of so many things: life, love, hardship, strength, sunshine, and comfort. They were big and stalwart just like the man himself, who towered easily over most. And they were comfortably weatherworn like an old pair of gloves that you just couldn't part with.
"Well, you just gonna stand there all morning looking dumbstruck and stupefied or are you gonna let us in?”
"Oh, she’s been wanting to come visit you for quite some time now Alexa and I just couldn’t hold her off anymore." He appeared jovially annoyed. "She knows very well how I enjoy these visits alone with you. She could've well come and visit you some other time on her own."
"Oh, you hush! Now move out of the way and let me hug my baby!"
Aunt Isadora pushed her father aside and as she did Alexa saw Uncle Henry and Uncle Charlie behind her. They smiled at her with that same grin that Alexa shared with them.
"Well, you know very well she can’t travel unless she brings the whole world with her.”
It had been decades since she had last seen her father and his siblings all together in one place. Crazy Aunt Isadora was the aunt she shared a kindred spirit with. The summer she turned 16 had been the best summer of her life because of her. She had begged her parents to let her spend the summer in the islands with Aunt Isadora. After many intense and heated discussions and a list of promises that she had to make before she was allowed to go, finally her parents with much trepidation gave in. She and Aunt Isadora spent their days at the beach sunning themselves to a shade not seen by man and dancing and listening to calypso music at night. And, seeing her today, she was still vibrant and wild.
She invited them in and offered them seats then ran to the kitchen to put a plate of whatever breakfast food she had available. She offered everyone coffee and tea but, of course, Aunt Isadora being Aunt Isadora asked whether she had anything of the more spirited variety. She sat and spoke with her father for some time listening to his stories of faraway places and people he had seen. She found her uncles to be as lively and funny as she remembered them. She was so happy Aunt Isadora had insisted to tag along and bring her posse with her. It had been too long and this had to be the very best present she had had in a very long time.
She then noticed something she had not noticed before. There was another person that had accompanied them all. How did she miss her?
"Oh, my goodness how rude of me!"
Aunt Isadora was speaking to the young woman by the fireplace. The young woman appeared extremely shy and politely listened to Aunt Isadora; one could feel the anxiety emanating from her. She must have been no more than twenty two. She held a baby in her arms and a toddler was holding onto her dress, standing behind his mother seeming shy or afraid, Alexa couldn't tell. They were all dressed a little different than the rest, hinting of a bit of olden times, the young woman's dress reminding her a bit of a 1920s low waistline frock.
She approached the young woman, introduced herself and asked her name.
"Felicia," she responded. Alexa asked if she could hold the baby but she could see she became anxious by the request, yet agreed out of courtesy to the host. She handed the baby to Alexa. Alexa noting the mounting distress in her face, quickly gave the baby back. She thought her a lovely, young girl but visibly quite troubled. She left the girl with Aunt Isadora, whom she seemed to be comfortable with, and moved on to speak with her two uncles.
The following day Alexa went to visit her sister to inform her of their father’s unexpected visit.
"He seems to be traveling with a crowd now.”
She told her sister of the family members their father had brought with him this time around told her about the young girl. She explained how distraught the young girl looked and how she was holding onto her children so tightly.
“Did she have long, red hair?"
"Yes! How did you know? She had long, thick, flaming red hair. Against that fair skin she was quite stunning actually.”
"You know who she is, right?”
"She’s Daddy’s youngest sister, Felicia.”
“Yes! She said her name was Felicia!" Alexa absorbed that for awhile, neither sister saying anything.
Finally, "I've never seen her in pictures, never even knew what she looked like. How did she die?"
"In a boat accident back in the early 1920's. She drowned at sea with her two sons."
Alexa's arm hairs stood on end. She was trying hard to digest this new bit of information. They sat in silence for a long time. Finally her sister spoke, "I know you fear your dreams, but you have a gift Alexa. I think it's wonderful that they come visit and sit and speak with you, that you're able to connect with them even after they're gone. I wish I had the ability. You carry a gift. Embrace it, don't fear it."
"Easy for you to say. The thing is some dreams are quite welcoming, others not. But, I agree, last night's dream was special, magical in fact, magical indeed."
Note: This fictional story is semi-autobiographical. Years ago I had a dream that my father, who had long passed away, had visited me with his siblings, my aunt and two uncles. The personalities of Aunt Isadora, Uncle Charlie and Uncle Henry are fictionalized but to Felicia I stayed true. She indeed materialized all of a sudden as the story suggests and she did indeed have with her her two children. She had red flaming hair and was attired in a dress that resembled the 1920s as the story suggests because that's when she passed away. I've always been blessed or plagued with dreams; depends how you view it. And this dream was indeed special because it was filled with much love and once again granted me the opportunity to see and visit with my father. And to him, I also stayed true. He was a huge man with huge hands and a huge heart. He was indeed, to me, bigger than life.
Written August 25, 2010