The story that I am about to tell is one that both inspired me, and frightened me, but in the end, made me stronger, and gave me a new sense of purpose. To this day, I know God was with me in this amazing way, and I know that I will never be the same again.
I was suffering from depression since my parent's deaths. I had much bitterness inside me. It all changed when I met a man named Ray L. nearly 7 years after my dad's death.
We were an airline family, dad said the day we picked out mom's burial plot. An appropriate spot, we all agreed, with planes flying by overhead. After all, dad had 29 years in the industry!
Mom died from breast cancer in 1988, she was diagnosed in 1984. It had been just 2 years earlier when dad's job with the airlines was eliminated. It was the beginning of the end for me, or as I called it, "the demise of my family." The loss of dad's job caused such stress that he had a heart attack later that year. Although he survived the heart attack and tried desperately to get his life back on track, mom's illness took a toll on all of us, especially dad. All I know is dad gave up too. He joined mom only 20 months after her death when he suffered from a massive stroke.
Having worked for a major airline myself for many years, I returned briefly in 1996 to a small start-up airline. The ticket counter where I worked sat directly across from the ticket counter of the airline where dad had worked.
I had only one dream of dad since his death. He was in a building with a lot of people hustling and bustling around. He was sitting on a rounded bench. The one thing I remember more than anything else about that dream was the smile on his face. He smiled like I never saw him smile in his life. He was indeed happy. The other thing I clearly remembered from that dream was the rounded bench. I can still see the bench and the smile on his face vividly and clearly, as if I had only dreamt it yesterday.
I didn't realize it during my interview with Ray L., but I'm sure the similarities were always there. His looks became so familiar it was ironic how much they reminded me of dad. Ray L. had also previously worked for an airline for many years. He even shared the same first name as my dad. I sensed an immediate natural and pleasant relationship existed between us early on. It was almost as if I had known him all of my life.
I continued to notice many similarities between my dad and Ray. The shape of his ears and nose were so much like dads. He even had the same color of beautiful blue eyes that dad had. Then he put on his glasses. They were identical to the pair dad always wore. Outside one day, I saw him smoking the same brand of cigarettes as dad. The wind was blowing and it made his bangs fall down on his forehead the same way they fell on dad. He stood there wearing those glasses, smoking that cigarette with his bangs hanging down, and the sight almost took my breath away. I just kept trying to convince myself that these were all just strange coincidences. One night, I watched him walk away after the workday was over. Ray was also about the same height and build as dad. I saw him walk slowly past the ticket counter of the airline my dad had worked for. Too strange, I thought, too strange!
The next several days were filled with many more gifts from God. I asked Ray what nationality he was. He told me that he was full-blooded German. Naturally, I thought, dad was German. One thing dad always asked me was what was on my mind. One day, Ray turned his head back and he looked up at me with those glasses and bangs hanging down, and he said "what's on your mind?" I can't even remember how I answered him. I hadn't heard that since dad had said it.
My dad had 5 girls and he gave each of us a nickname. Dad always called me "Bee." A co-worker started asking Ray some questions about his security codes. Ray told her he'd tell her the first letter of his code, but nothing else. Ray said, "It's B," and he continued saying it, "B, B, B and B."
The next morning I went into work at 6:30 a.m. Ray came in and I said, "Good morning, Ray, how are you?" He replied, "Oh, I'm here." Not even realizing what I had said I told him, "Yea, you are here in body, not mind." He said to me, "No, I'm here in mind not body." He was telling me, he was confirming to me what I had begun to believe. My dad's spirit was coming through Ray L. This rush came over my body and it went from my head to my feet. Our mind is our spirit and it was my dad's spirit, but it was not his body.
One day in a meeting Ray told us he would be away for awhile. He told us to keep his backyard clean while he was gone. He told us several times how damn proud he was of all of us and how we were all hard workers. Dad was always telling us eight kids how proud he was of each of us. The strange part about Ray L. saying it was that he normally did not say these types of things. Several co-workers told me they noticed changes in Ray when my group was hired. They told me Ray was usually more grumpy than happy. Ray rarely smiled and never dished out any compliments. Another co-worker told me she was in the office with Ray a few weeks before I was hired. Ray was sitting at the desk and all of the sudden he looked up and said, "Who called me, who is calling my name?" My co-worker said, "Ray, nobody is calling you in here." Ray insisted, "There was a woman calling my name, she was saying, Ray, Ray." Donna again told Ray that no one had called him. Ray replied, "Oh well, it must have been my Angel."
Ray had returned from being away and was standing at the end of the ticket counter. I turned to look at him and saw that he was smiling at me. It was a smile I had seen before. Perhaps this was the most amazing thing of all that happened. I did recall that smile. I know now that I saw the face of God and my dad in that smile that day. Something just clicked when I saw him smile. Then I started to look at those big letters spelling out the name of the airline dad had worked for. I was thinking of that smile and I was remembering something else. I thought about the dream I had of dad. Then suddenly I turned and looked, about 20 yards away from where Ray stood and smiled at me, and there it was. The same exact rounded bench that dad was sitting on in my dream! Dad had come to me in a dream and now he had come to me in my life.
Dad wanted to get many messages to me and he did just that. He wanted me to stop being bitter, and to let go of all the pain and the hurt I had buried deep down inside of me. He wanted me to stop telling the story I had told so many times since their deaths. The story went like this:
My dad had this good job with an airline and he gave them 29 years of his life. Many times I recall as a child the moving van coming and eight kids with mom and dad moving again for the job the airline just had to have Dad for. But then, many years later, they eliminated his job and he had a heart attack. He survived the heart attack and started to turn his life around, but then mom got sick with cancer, and she died. The next think I knew, dad gave up too, and he died only 20 months later.
Dad wanted me to replace that story with the one I am sharing with you today. He wanted me to know that he was indeed happy.
Mom was very much a part of my story too. At the ticket counter one morning, a middle-aged woman with blonde hair came up to the counter. It wasn't that she shared any similarities to my mom, but what she said that I wouldn't forget. She told me to check her bag to Newark, and the other bag was her husband's and he was going to Orlando. Her husband had already gone to the gate. I asked her for her name. "Anders is the name, I'm Rita, and he's Ray." I couldn't believe it! Ray and Rita were my mom and dad's names. When I told her that she smiled and went about her way.
Could I confront Ray with all that was happening to me? I really wasn't sure if I wanted to. After all, he was the key player in everything, but one day it happened. Ray and I were standing outside and I proceeded to tell him about the signs I was getting. He seemed open, receptive, maybe even relieved that I was sharing these things with him. I cried as I told him how many signs I had gotten and how much he reminded me of my dad. He put his arm around me and he said, "Do I really remind you that much of your father?" I told him that yes, he very much did. Ray then went on to share something significant with me, and at that moment, I again realized what I had already come to believe. There was something of a very higher spiritual level occurring here and he was confirming it. Ray asked me when I began noticing these things in him. I told him pretty much right from the start. He then gave me something to complete my story. Ray told me that during the months I had worked for him there was a woman's voice that kept calling his name. He heard it so many times that his wife and others began to wonder about this voice that only he would hear. People kept telling him that no one was calling his name, but Ray knew that someone was. I asked him what he thought it was. Ray told me he just figured it was an Angel, or somebody was trying to get something to somebody trough him. I told Ray that he was the messenger. I told him that my dad had many messages to get through to me and I got all of them through him. I also told Ray that I had every reason to believe that the voice he was hearing was my mom's. Ray was open and receptive to all of it and I felt comfortable in telling him about it. His wife even told me later when we met that Ray couldn't believe he was chosen for such a mission!
Although this small airline went out of business, and I lost all contact with the man named Ray, I will never forget my experiences here and how meeting him changed my life forever. Recently, I came across the uniform that I would wear to work while at the airport. I guess it wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone to know that the label inside of the uniform read "Career fashions and coordinates by Angelica."