by Tony Harrington
It was the early part of 1984 around one O’clock in the morning. I was eight years old and he came into my room and sat on the edge of my bed.
He always called me Nino, explaining that it was the Italian name for Tony. It was a kindred spirit thing as I was named after him. He explained the nickname every time he said it and I would nod and smile as though it was my first time hearing it.
That night, as he came into my room and sat at the foot of my bed, was no different. He just looked at me and said, “Nino, it’s time for me to go. You know why I call you Nino, Right?” I didn’t answer, I couldn’t. Something was different about him. Granted he felt familiar and his presence filled the room as it always had, but there was a profound sadness this time. It was as though he was saying goodbye for the last time.
After he explained what I already knew about the origin of my nickname he said, “I am going down the hall to say goodbye to your mother.” And then he was gone.
A few hours later my mother came into the room that I shared with my twin brother. She leaned in and told us to get up and get dressed, that we had to get to the hospital as my Grandfather was fading fast. He had been hospitalized for the last few weeks in the final stages of lung cancer, a disease he acquired from years of smoking unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes.
Due to the horrible physical condition that my Grandfather was in, my twin brother and I were not permitted to see him, we were too young and my parents thought the image would have been devastating. I remember sitting in the waiting room as my older sister was escorted to the hospital room to say her goodbye. She emerged broken, trembling and crying, no words were of comfort to her. I knew it was bad.
The morning stretched on as family filed in and out of the hospital room as my brother and I sat in the waiting room. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, my mother emerged from the room and said the two words that broke me that day. “It’s over.”
After the heartbreak passed I remembered his visit early in the morning and his words to me. “It is time for me to go.” I knew, I just knew, that he had said goodbye in his own way, knowing that he would not get to say goodbye to me properly.
It wasn’t until a few years later when my mother told me of an experience she had the night before his passing. She recounted an experience where she dreamed her father came to her room, sat on the edge of the bed and told her that he had to be going. “You know me,” he said matter of fact. “I am not one to stick around a place for too long.”
She awoke from that dream and woke my father and told him to get ready, that the phone was about to ring. Seconds later it did, it was the hospital letting my mother know that her father was about to pass.
Neither my brother nor my sister ever mentioned a visit from our Grandfather the night before the morning of his passing, so I am not sure if they discounted it as a dream or did not receive the farewell visit.
The phenomenon is what is known as the “Farewell” apparition, and it is experienced more than any other type of paranormal activity.
The realism of the visit is what sticks with most people. It is described as having a dream-like quality, but the visitation is so real, the dialogue and the image of the visitor so lifelike, that afterward it is confounding for the person having experienced it. Most people do not share their experience openly because they either feel that it was simply a dream, their imagination, or they don’t want to face possible ridicule. Some people don’t share it because it is a deeply personal experience and it could raise issues with other family members who did not get a farewell visit.
I am sure it is the latter reason that it took my mother years to talk about her experience, at the time I was too young to understand what it was that I experienced. I never told my mother about my experience until I was well into my adulthood.
What exactly is it that happens during one of these visits? Is it truly paranormal, are we actually seeing the spirit of a departing or departed loved one coming to say goodbye one last time? For the millions of people a year that experience the phenomenon it is real and it offers a glimpse of hope that we truly go on after we shuffle off our mortal coil. It provides closure and healing and a message that love is eternal and transcends the earthly confines of this plane of existence.
Scientists believe that what is actually transpiring is simply a coping mechanism, that our subconscious concocts the visit to help transition us through the stages of grief as a way to lessen the blow caused by the loss of a loved one. We inject our memories of the loved one into the visit, their voice and mannerisms defined by what we remember. It is why the visits often reflect the individual how we remember them, not in the sickly state they are in at the moment of their passing.
These types of visits though are not reserved just for those left behind. It would seem that the ones who are crossing over from this world to the next get their own visits as well. In a related type of apparition called a “Deathbed Apparition”, at the hour of death, the dying sees familiar faces of those who passed on before them.
My family recounted stories of how my Grandfather saw his brother, and several friends and family who had passed standing in his room. He interacted with them as if they were there and conversing with him. Perhaps it was those friends and family who showed him how to transcend his dying frame and say his final goodbye to those who were open to receiving it.
I had a friend who worked as a hospice nurse and she recounted many instances of patients having received visitations from those who have preceded them in death. She reported that they seemed aware of their current surroundings as well as being able to see what she could not; the presence of others in the room. These visitations often brought a sense of peace and more times than not the patient seemed to be relieved of their suffering and pain until their death took them from the world.
Who is to say what is actually happening during these visits? It could very well be our minds providing solace and comfort in the face of a tragic loss, or it could be something more. It could be that our loved ones truly find a way to get their message to us, or, at the end of our lives, find a way to see us once more to carry us home.
What has been your experience with farewell apparitions and the deathbed phenomenon? Have you experienced a visit from a dying or recently deceased loved one or have you witnessed a dying loved one talk of others in the room, people who had gone before them?
Share your experiences with us in the comments section so that others who are new to the experience know that they are not alone.