I am an engineer by training and trade. In the journey of life, being a mechanical engineer has been a blessing and in some cases a curse. Eileen had gotten me to agree to the impossible. Taking two days off in a row. I like to have a reason for everything that happens. It took me years to resolve how the impossible occurred that third weekend in May of 1993. That day changed my life forever and this is the story about how the impossible occurred.
The Day of the Angels
I am an engineer by training and trade. In the journey of life, being a mechanical engineer has been a blessing and in some cases a curse. I like to have a reason for everything that happens. I am also persistent but often not patient. Eileen had gotten me to agree to take a second day off that third weekend in May of 1993. I was perplexed about the how’s and the why’s of that agreement.
The answer to the why became obvious by the end of that Sunday trip to Yosemite. God wanted me to become more spiritual. God enlisted the help of Eileen, the only person with a possible chance of getting me to say yes. My beloved wife Maxine often reminded me I was working too long and too hard. Her Norwegian stubbornness was only slightly greater than my Danish stubbornness. So, it sometimes took us a long time to come to a consensus. Consensus often meant admitting Maxine was right.
My usual reply to Maxine was that after the current project I would cut back. However, by then another project had arisen and I was off on another workaholic binge. I was in a perpetual workaholic loop. So Eileen getting me to agree to go with her to Yosemite was a first step, and a big step, in getting me to break the constant binge of workaholism. I had an answer for the why of Yosemite. The question of how it happened eluded me. Some questions have no answer and become the curse of an engineer. I kept pondering the question. I was oblivious to the Danish proverb, “Don’t lay in bed asking yourself questions you can’t answer.”
It was obvious to me that God was involved but I had the feeling there was more to it. It would take ten years and the grief and the recovery from the death of my daughter Kim to come to an understanding of that day.
I had experienced many coincidences in my life. Things happened, people appeared in my life, and I had nothing to do with it. I am an organized and detailed person. I plan for things to happen. The coincidences were happening too often. I became a believer that the Holy Spirit was at work in the lives of Maxine and I. I didn’t know why but I knew those coincidences could only come from the Holy Spirit.
It is an understatement to say that in June of 2000 Maxine and I were devastated by the death of our daughter Kim at the hands of a drunk driver. We were both grieving but it was different for each of us. Maxine always internalized her feelings. It was very hard for me to get her to discuss her grief. We were both just plugging along and trying to support each other the best we could.
One night I was watching TV by myself and surfing the channels. I was a constant channel surfer, after all I am a man. I could surf and watch two or three programs in the same hour. The channel surfing frustrated Maxine a great deal. She was always telling me, “Find something and park that remote.” As I was surfing, I came across this program with John Edward, the psychic, on the ScFi channel. I just kept right on going. I was really skeptical of psychics and mediums but something just told me to go back and watch his program. An intuitive moment?
Very shortly after Kim’s death I began listening to my inner self when I got these feelings, this intuition, that I was supposed to do something. In the past I had intuitions and I didn’t pay any attention to them. Hind sight taught me that I should have. When Peg Reinhart, a second mother to Maxine and me, was fighting cancer I had this intuition that we should go see her. I didn’t act on that intuition. I thought that if she was getting worse, someone would call us. Well the call never came and she died two weeks later. I have forgiven myself for not paying attention, but I shall always remember that incident as a turning point in my paying more attention to intuition.
So anyway, I backed up a few channels and started watching John Edward. His program was titled Crossing Over. John was talking to dead people and communicating that discussion to those still living. Wow!!! I watched and was very intrigued. I could tell John was different from my expectation of a medium. His show was on for two hours one night of the week. John talked about love bridging across the boundary of death. Love established on this side carries over to the other side. John talked about love, prayer, and Christianity being involved in our relationship between this life and the next life. People who have passed have a presence around us and are aware of what we are doing. The things he was saying made sense to me based on my life experiences. You will read about some of those experiences in later chapters. From watching a few of his shows my conviction that Kim was in the next life and was ok was reinforced.
With some reluctance I decided I would tell Maxine about the show. I would see if I could get her to watch the show. Our grief was so deep that we were struggling to just talk with each other. I was unsure of how she was really feeling at this time. She agreed to watch the show. We sat there, almost in silence as we watched. She was skeptical and said so but she watch the show. She saw and heard the same things I heard and she became convinced as I had. Kim was in the next life, she was ok, and she was aware of what was going on in our lives. We watched John’s shows all that summer.
From John’s shows, we learned that after a person passes away and their spirit moves to the next life, their spirit and their love stay around you. I had felt Kim’s presence near me, and Maxine had also had that experience but except for acknowledging Kim’s presence, we did not discuss any details. We were both at the point that just making it through the day was a big accomplishment. We didn’t desire to get into deep discussions about spiritual things. We continued to watch John Edward’s Crossing Over for the rest of the season. I purchased some of his books and we read them. His book, “One Last Time” was particularly helpful. It talked directly to deaths such as Kim’s that were sudden and unexpected.
So in 2003 with the knowledge I had gained from watching John Edward, I returned to that day in May of 1993 to the question of how Eileen got me to say yes and go with her to Yosemite.
I knew Eileen had lost her mother Anne to cancer. Anne died when Eileen was in college. Eileen had shared that her mother was more ill than she and her sisters had been told. When Eileen got the call that her mother had passed away, it was a big shock to her. A shock not unlike the shock Maxine and I had when Kim was killed. Eileen shared with me that after her mother passed away she felt close to her mother. She “talked” with her mother and called on her to help in times of need. I had done the same with Kim. It all fit with what I was learning from John Edward.
So I came to the conclusion that Eileen had help that day as we sat in the van in the motel parking lot. Her mother was sitting on her shoulder saying, “Don’t give up on this guy, keep at it.” Ok, I had a reason on Eileen’s side of the discussion, where was mine?
I started pondering about who could have been helping me. Both my parents were living and there had been few deaths in my family. Who would be close enough to me to be like the mother-daughter relationship of Anne and Eileen? There could be only one answer, it had to be my grandmother, Grum. Grum had been the spiritual backbone of the Stratton family. I dug into my archives. My grandmother had passed away in 1992. I called my cousin Marilynn to see if Grum had ever been to Yosemite. I was certain I had to find someone close to me that had been to Yosemite. Marilynn did not know so I called my Aunt Jeanne. Jeanne could not remember Grum going to Yosemite. Jeanne and Grum had a very close daughter-mother relationship. If Jeanne couldn’t remember, then it didn’t happen. I was perplexed again. Who did I know that was close, had died, and had been to Yosemite. After more pondering, the light bulb came on, for one of those aah moments. Someone close to me that had visited Yosemite was not the key.
Anne and Grum were like Eileen and me. God, through the Holy Spirit, had made their paths to cross. What a no-brainer. If God can make the paths of people to cross on Earth, God can certainly make it happen in heaven. So in heaven, Anne was connected with Grum. On Earth, Eileen and I were connected in a test project. The Holy Spirit was at work in all four of us. I suspect the heavenly conversation went some thing like this:
Anne, “My daughter is trying to help your grandson but he is stubborn.”
Grum replied, “Let me help, I’ve looked after that kid all his life. I’m more persistent than he is. I can make him listen.”
So my reasoning of the “how” of Yosemite goes like this:
God wanted to guide me to a greater spirituality and get me off the treadmill of being a workaholic. God knew I wasn’t paying attention to what Maxine was telling me. God knew that Eileen was the only person with an chance of making it happen. God also knew about stubborn Danes, like me, so he enlisted the help from his angels Anne and Grum. Anne was with Eileen and whispering in her ear, “Don’t give up on this guy, keep at it until he says yes.” Grum was on my shoulder whispering in my ear, “For once in your life listen to what you are being told, say yes”. So as Eileen and I had our long discussion of “You need to take time and go with me” and “No, I never take off two days in the same week” our angels kept at it until I finally did listen and say yes. Well, that trip to Yosemite changed my life forever and for the better.
So, ever after, when Eileen told me something about taking care of myself, I listened. I also listened to Maxine a lot more and paid attention to what she was telling me about taking better care of myself. I didn’t always act like I was paying attention but I was.
So after years of pondering and wondering, I had developed an explanation of how I came to say yes. That day two angles acted upon the lives of two earthy souls to get the stubborn one to say yes. It had happened to me again, the Holy Spirit was at work in my life on that day in 1993. At the moment Eileen and I were having our “Yes you should” and “No I won’t” conversation I didn’t recognize it was the Holy Spirit. I am thankful the Holy Spirit keeps working in my life, even when I’m oblivious to it