I walked into her hospital room on a Monday and knew she didn't have much time left. A familiar aroma filled the room. I'd smelled it twice before. Once, visiting my grandfather the other visiting my father just days before they died.
The smell wasn't particularly strong. It wasn't sweet, or savory, or anything really. The only way I can describe it is persistent.
I watched my mother take her last breath the night before Thanksgiving 2000 at about ten o'clock.
Over the course of the next months, I wrapped up her business and sold it, barely making enough to keep the IRS away. I couldn't really talk to anyone about it, because no one wanted to. My sister had her own illness to be concerned. My brother was too concerned about the money he thought our mother owed him. My friends were wonderful, but they could only do so much.
A few minutes here. An hour there. Dinner.
I found the name of a psychic/astrologer. I called, wanting a reading. Desperate to hear anything that could help me set a path away from the shattered road behind me. Christine, took my information over the phone and invited me over a few days later for the reading.
In the beginning, she told me nothing more than other astrologers had said. "You were born, not on the cusp of Virgo/Libra," she said, "you were born at the exact change."
I smiled. An astrologer told my mother the same thing in 1968. More on him under Z.
Now, we're getting somewhere. "I'm listening."
"It's going to be a long time before you can trust again," she said, "and it's going to be the fun-loving Libra, rather than the fussy Virgo, that does it. I urge you to avoid the Virginal. F--k around a little."
She was good. Not earth shattering, but good. I expressed my fears, and received good guidance, not all of it I could follow, because the Virgo was too strong. I couldn't just "f--k around."
Our time was up.
She had a large bay window behind the couch with the drapes pulled back showing the front yard. I had parked my little compact pickup along the curb.
Perched on the hood was a white dove.
Christine noticed. "Does it mean anything to you?"
On the wings of a snow-white dove
He sends His pure sweet love
A sign from above (sign from above)
On the wings of a dove (wings of a dove)
"It was a song my mother used to sing to me," I said, then sang the whole thing to her without a pause, and without having sung it since my sister was born. Her birth brought on a new beginning and new songs, you see. And that was a good thing.
I cried for the first time since my mom's funeral.
Christine and I walked outside, and I believed the sound of the opening door would drive the bird away. It didn't. Instead, it hopped off the hood onto the ground and circled my truck a couple of times before stopping and facing us.
I walked toward it. The bird held it's ground. Christine walked up to me and put her arms around me.
"Rocky, I've never seen anything like this before," she said, "but that's your sign. That's what you came here for. Everything's going to be all right."
I gave her a big hug back, and walked to my truck. The bird stayed where it was. Even as I drove off, the dove flew around the truck until the end of the block then left.
Christine was right. I tried to call her a year or so later to tell her, but her number had been disconnected, and try as I would through the internet, I couldn't find her.
I have seen white doves again. Several times, in fact, usually when I'm at a particularly low point.
I saw one the other day, flying with a mate, and smiled.