Alexa groggily reached over to her bedside table and turned off the radio alarm. A little fuzzy, a little disoriented, she had some difficulty comprehending what day it was...did I hear Saturday? She turned on the TV. Saturday morning cartoons. Good, she could stay in bed. She'd been so tired last night that, out of habit, she set the alarm. She turned over, fluffed her pillows, and went back to sleep, not particularly caring how beautiful the weatherman said it was.
She woke several hours later feeling refreshed. Alexa put a pot to brew and went to the curb to retrieve the day’s paper. Oh, what a beautiful day indeed. A perfect day to take her coffee and paper outdoors and bask in the comfortable rays of the sun. No sooner had she placed the paper on her kitchen table than the doorbell rang. She debated on whether or not to answer and hoped it was someone she could dismiss quickly. The only plans she had today included a good book and couple of good DVDs.
She opened the door and found her father standing there, hat in hand. A big grin immediately took hold of her at this unexpected, but most welcome visit. She reached up and hugged him for what seemed an eternity. It had been awhile since she’d last seen him and she quickly wiped away the contented tears from her eyes that always came to greet him as well. Mr. Wandersoul, as she affectionally called him, was prone to disappearing for months on end. She stood back to take in this huge, loving man who stood there with a huge, loving smile on his face. She reached for his hands and held them between her own and lovingly looked at them; it was always the second thing she did after looking at his face. She loved her father's hands and missed them just as much as the man himself: 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 a language of their own as they 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," my father said. He seemed 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 took site of Uncle Henry and Uncle Charlie who waved to her and smiled with that same grin Alexa shared with them.
"I'm sorry Alexa, but you know very well she can’t travel unless she brings the whole world with her,” her father added.
It had been decades since she had last seen them all together in one place. Crazy Aunt Isadora was the aunt whom she loved the most and shared a kindred spirit with. She remembered how the summer she turned 16 had been the best summer of her life. She had begged her parents to let her go and spend the summer in the islands with Aunt Isadora. After many intense discussions and a list of promises that she had to make before embarking, finally, her parents, with much trepidation, let her go. 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 tall and still wild.
She invited them all in and offered them seats then ran to the kitchen to put a plate of whatever breakfast type of 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 all the while listening to his stories of places faraway 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! She saw Aunt Isadora speaking to this young woman by the fireplace. The young woman appeared extremely shy. She politely listened to Aunt Isadora as Aunt Isadora was speaking but one could feel the anxiety emanating from her. She must have been no more than 22. She held a baby in her arms and a young boy was holding onto her, afraid to let go. They were 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 on 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! 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." Then, "how did she die?"
"In a boat accident back in the early 20'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 Dad, who had long passed, had visited me with his siblings, my aunt and two uncles. The characters 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 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 learned of her through a subsequent conversation about the dream with my sister who then informed me of who she was and how she died. I had no idea until then. It sent chills up my spine. But I've always been blessed or plagued with dreams; depends how you view it. And this tale/dream was indeed magical because it was filled with much love and once again granted me the opportunity to see and visit with my father. And to him, yes, I also stayed true. He was a huge man with huge hands and a huge heart. He was indeed, to me, bigger than life.