Leonard and Son Jeff
as related by Rev. Don

Leonard was a wealthy retired construction baron and a member of the United Methodist church I pastored near Bloomfield, NY.   In the summer of 1998 I decided Leonard needed a pastoral visit.  He was distraught at his cousin's decision to face his last days alone as cancer ravaged his body.  I wanted to console Leonard and offer his cousin support.  But I thought there was a more urgent reason to console Leonard.  A few years earlier, his son Jeff was flying a small plane, when engine failure claimed the lives of Jeff, his wife Karen, and their two children.  A policeman interrupted Leonard's dinner and made no effort to spare him the ghastly details. 

When I showed up unannounced at his country home, Leonard wasn't there, but his wife, Helen warmly greeted me.  I commented on how hard it must be to adjust to  the tragic death of her son and his family.  She smiled cryptically and assured me that it was not much of a problem at all.  Jeff had contacted Leonard in a reassuring visit from beyond the grave.  She warned me that Leonard was very reluctant to talk about this experience.

Curiosity overwhelmed me.  The next time I saw Leonard I gently broached the subject.  A frightened expression crept over his face.  He was worried about what I might think of his credibility.  This upset me because Leonard and I had a great relationship of trust.  But I sensed that he had a most unique story to tell and could not resist prodding him to share his story.  Finally, he consented.

The day after Jeff died, a grief-stricken Leonard took a ride in his son's truck.  As he pulled out of his driveway, he noticed a man coming up from the ditch by the highway.  It was Jeff!  Jeff asked his Dad if he could drive "for old time's sake."    Absolutely stunned, Leonard moved over.  Jeff assured him that Karen and the children were in a much better place and were adjusting marvelously to their heavenly home.  He also offered a full description of his financial affairs and investments to help his Dad tie up loose ends.  After about two miles,  Jeff pulled the truck over and wistfully said, "I'm not permitted to drive any further.  Good-bye, Dad.  Don't worry.  We're all just fine."  With that he wandered towards the wooded area beside the highway and simply vanished.  Leonard was in shock.  Had this really happened?

The next day, Leonard went for a long walk in the woods behind his house.  Suddenly, he was overwhelmed by sadness and sat down on a log to weep.  Moments later, he heard someone coming.  It was Karen, Jeff's deceased wife.  She looked at him sternly and asked, "What are you doing here?  Didn't Jeff tell you that we're all fine?  You get back in the house and comfort Mom!"  Shocked out of his weeping, Leonard just floated back home.  These two incidents greatly diminished his grief. 

But now Leonard gazed at me apprehensively, fearing my skepticism.  Perhaps, my face betrayed skeptical dismay.  I had known many widows and widowers who had been contacted in amazing ways by deceased spouses.  But a deceased son who drove his old truck?  This was hard for me to process--a postmortem encounter that rivals Christ's resurrection in its physicality.    I quickly thanked Leonard for the incredible gift he bestowed on me by sharing these experiences.   Leonard had told no one of these visitations.  But clearly they were the most treasured experiences of his life.  He was a man of integrity and had no reason to lie to me.  It still sends shivers down my spine when I think of the profound effect this miracle had on Leonard. 

 

 

 

Music: Forever and a Day
2002 by Bruce DeBoer