Do You Have Your Father’s Will?

A while back I wrote about my father’s passing in 2007  in a story titled, “Now You Know” and promised in Paul Harvey fashion to tell readers, “The rest of the story.”

My father was respected and was the clear leader of our family, the “Godfather” if you will.  Whenever crisis struck,  he  was  the voice of reason and solution–if not absolution.   This story, however, concerns my father’s Last Will and Testament, an item he and Mother mailed to me over fourteen years ago for safe keeping. It is an item I literally kept in my floor safe, unopened.   I couldn’t stomach opening it, reading it, or even handling the envelope.  I don’t care who gets what.  What I want is my parents forever.   The Will sat there for years among insurance policies, birth and stock certificates, and bars of gold.   Okay, one gold coin.

From the day the document arrived in my mailbox until the day my father died, I let it sit there safe in the safe, year after year, in denial that I would ever have to open it.    On March 20, 2007 in the last hour of the winter season, not willing to fight through spring and all the new-life bullshit associated with spring, my dad took the last breath of a full and complete life.

A few days later, my mother called asking me for my copy of “the will”  because she couldn’t find hers. 

The dial on the safe clicked left, three times around, and then right, two times around, and left again, one time around, until landing on the final number.  With a click, the heavy door handle released and I pulled the lead five foot high and eight inch thick door open.  Knowing right where the will was kept, I reached in; my cell phone was wedged between my shoulder and ear, telling Mother to hold on, “I got this.”  Surprisingly, I couldn’t find it.  I would have to snearch around some more and call her back, telling her not to worry and assuring her that I know I have it.

After an eternity, I started pulling out every document, one at a time–along with all the ammo, guns, gold, okay one gold coin, old tax returns, insurance policies, and junk, becoming desperate as the clock ticked.  I know I have never touched or moved it.  In the end, it simply wasn’t there and, inexplicably lost.   I had to call Mother back and tell her this without any sensible explanation.  In the meantime, she told me that she had located her copy.  Disaster avoided, and, just as well with me, because I never ever wanted to open that envelope anyway.

Jump from March to August that year.  I was early.  Mother was due up north in a few hours so I thought I would kill some time by doing paperwork.  We were meeting in Crystal Falls, Michigan, a place so dear to our hearts–having spent every summer of our lives there fishing on the Michigamme Reservoir.  Mother, barely 17 years my senior, and I did a lot of growing up there.   This was the place, these were the waters, where we were spreading his ashes.

Father taught me to tie a hook, clean a fish, and start an outboard motor here.  He taught me to poop in the woods when I was three years old, run a chainsaw when I was twelve years old, and net a fish as soon as I was trustworthy.  Way Dam Resort is hallowed ground for generations of Ashbauchers.  My grandfather discovered the spot in the 1940′s and took his son, who in turn, took his family including his only daughter–me–and his son, Woody.  Our children and their children swim in the orange, upper peninsula iron stained waters, catch crawdads at night using a flashlight, and bait hooks–five generations.

That year, waiting, I dumped my everyday briefcase on the bed in our cabin and expected to see business bills, statements, and lists.  Then it happened.  My father’s will dropped out, face up on top of the pile; a white envelope with the word “WILL” on the front of it in his unique southpaw handwriting.   I broke down.

There are some things in this world that can not be explained.  This is one of them.  This is a true and exact description of events.   That year “up north” I did not tell Mother what happened because it was too raw, too unreal, and unreconciled in my mind.  I didn’t want to upset her or accept the fact that I was just wishful or certifiably crazy.

To this day I have not opened that envelope and it is back in my safe where it belongs.  

When supernatural things like this happen to ordinary people–people who are not expecting anything extraordinary, they (me) have to believe it in spite of the impossibility.

Three more things happened of this magnitude that I am saving for another day.  But I will tell you, friend, that once all doubt left my mind–once pure acceptance was in my heart– the incidences stopped.




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