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Sharing blackberry pie and a smile

By Dennis Minich

There are things I believe in and things which I don’t. For example, I don’t believe in astrology. I find it amusing to read horoscopes and some of their “insightful” forecasts, but I once heard it explained, “Why would I believe in the stars when I can believe in the one who created the stars.” I do believe in luck, but in most cases, luck is earned through preparation and opportunity.

There are some things I am not sure about, such as karma. One would hope good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished, but who knows? I don’t believe in mediums who can communicate with the dead, but I am not sure that some kind of communication is totally impossible. I know often what we think are voices from the great beyond are simply our imagination running rampant or wishful thinking manifesting itself. But is that all? I will give an example.

My sister, Carole, died in 1987. She was only 42. I was 30 and it was the first time I had really felt the sting of death to someone so close. For several weeks I was in mourning. I didn’t know what to expect, how to feel, what to do. The loss was magnified in everything I did.

But strangely, after those few weeks I dreamed I met with Carole. She acknowledged she was dead; I knew she was dead. She provided me no great revelations about the great beyond, the future or any of the things you might expect. Instead, I remember we walked and talked and toward the end, she said, “Don’t be sad anymore. I am OK and you will be fine.” When I woke up the next morning I was totally relaxed, all of the sorrow and angst was gone. Was it her? Was it simply a manifestation of my mind? Was it a dream? I don’t know, but while I still miss her and think about her often, the grief was gone.

I have been on vacation the past couple of weeks. When I got home Friday, I met with John Foster who delivered me a much-appreciated gift, a fresh blackberry pie, baked by his wife, Miss Wanda. How we got on the topic of blackberry pies is a whole different story, but let me simply say they found out I like them and they gave me one. It was as good as I hoped.

Saturday night, I had a dream. I was in some kind of gathering, with lots of people around. Who they were and what we were doing I am not sure, but everyone seemed to be happy and there was lots of food. At one point, I told the group, “If you want some dessert, my business partner brought me a fresh blackberry pie.” I heard my oldest brother, Russ, say, “I can take care of that for you.” I turned around and there he was digging into the pie and grinning at me.

Sunday morning, I was awakened by the phone. I didn’t answer it, because I already knew what it was. I waited a little while and the phone rang again. It was Russ’ wife, Pat, calling me to tell me he had passed in the night.

He has been sick for several weeks and we knew his time on earth was short, so it was not a shock. And quite frankly, I didn’t feel the sudden rush of grief, because we had already shared a couple moments of peace. We had some pie together to send him off. I know it likely sounds silly, but the last few times I got to visit him he talked about how hungry he was, but couldn’t eat. I had taken him some cheesy corn, but he couldn’t eat it. I had taken him some chocolate and he managed to let a piece or two dissolve in his mouth. But he could not eat. His ability to eat some blackberry pie and give me a smile gave me tranquility because his struggles were over.

As I wrote about him a few weeks ago, Russ was an outstanding country singer. He hosted the Cass County Opry for several years and I know he had quite the following in Butler for his Saturday night “Classic Country” shows on the radio. It was once pointed out he shared a remarkable resemblance to Burt Reynolds. Russ corrected: “Burt Reynolds looks like me.”

I don’t know if he communicated with me. I don’t know if God placed that dream for me. I don’t know if it was memories jumbling about, but whatever it was, I feel confident Russ is at home and he is getting to eat and enjoy himself. There’s a great new voice in the heavenly choir.

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