Happy Heavenly Birthday Dad…and Thanks for Your Help

My dad would have been 78 years old today. He left the earthly realm six years ago, after a valiant two year battle with pancreatic cancer. I woke up thinking about him and he’s been in my thoughts all day, as I’ve flipped through memories like the pages of a photo album. 

I looked up my dad’s name. 

Curtis, you are cheerful and friendly, but apt to have an emotional life. You feel best when you have several lines of effort going at once. You are a good communicator and promoter and seldom worry over anything. At times, you can be impatient, and impulsive. You have the ability to bring an idea to completion. You express yourself joyously and constructively. You might be psychic, but unaware of this gift. Emergencies may raise your intuitive abilities in order to better resolve conflicts or situations. You become very creative under pressure, and have very original ideas. 

You desire to inspire and to lead, to control other’s affairs. You are giving, courageous and bold, action oriented, energetic and strong willed. You want to make a difference in the world and cultivate your creative talents.

My dad was a very personable, friendly man. People were drawn to him, and his generous, fun, easy going nature. It’s not uncommon, six years beyond his death, to still encounter people who knew him and loved him and want to talk about him. I hear their stories and save them up, storing their memories with my own. Listening to others speak fondly of my father helps me to see him as a whole person, and not just my parent. 

I inherited some of my intuitive abilities from my father’s side of the family. Although we seldom talked about those unusual gifts, we did have a couple of interesting conversations about our ability to perceive what lies beyond the normal range of the standard five senses. I also inherited from my dad the tendency to hold in emotions. I believe my dad felt great joys and great sorrows. Like me, he preferred to speak from a more positive space, and remain silent when he felt sad or upset. 

Dad always owned a motorcycle or two. Some of my earliest memories of my father are of riding with him on his bike, a tiny girl sheltered within his arms. He loved to ride, and perhaps he found freedom and adventure as he roared down the highway on his Harley. 

Today as I drove around town, I sang Happy Birthday to Dad. I spoke aloud to him, as if he sat next to me in the car. On birthdays, Dad called his children to chat, and we called him on his special day. I couldn’t pick up the phone and hear his voice, much as I wanted to. But I could speak to him nonetheless. I asked him if we could have a “signs and wonders” kind of day. 

Immediately, I spotted a trike motoring toward me. My dad owned such a motorcycle at the end of his life, when riding a standard two wheeler became too challenging. I noticed motorcycles the rest of the day, and smiled as I thought of my dad. 

Then he added a new game. As my niece and sister’s big Halloween party approaches, I’ve been assembling my costume. I still need fingerless lace gloves, easily found at the Halloween shop, and a black lacy blouse to wear beneath a corset. I thought I’d visit every resale shop in town, in hopes of finding what I needed at a great price. I didn’t really have time today to start my search. And yet…all day I felt compelled to go to the Goodwill Store to look. The sense of being drawn there took on urgency, and when I realized my last task for the day placed me near that second hand shop, I gave in and popped in for a quick look. 

I immediately saw that today only, all purchases were 25% off for shoppers age 55 and older. Ah. Thanks Dad. That explained the sense of urgency. Tomorrow the sale would have been over. 

But could I find the right blouse? I knew exactly what I wanted. I searched through the rack of black tops, and found several that, while not exactly right, could work. I turned toward the dressing rooms. Keep looking. I felt those words, rather than heard them. Keep looking. What you are searching for is there. 

I looked at every shirt. The last hanger in the row of black blouses appeared to be empty. On closer inspection I saw that the shirt had slipped off its hanger and was tucked back into the tightly packed space. Pulling the blouse free, my heart skipped a beat. This was the shirt I had envisioned. It was perfect. And I almost missed it. I bought it, for 25% off. 

I miss my dad. I miss talking to him and hearing his stories and telling him mine. I miss calling him on the phone and hearing his voice. However, I have no doubt that he was near today. I have no problem believing he called my attention to all the motorcycles on the road today and that he impressed upon me to visit the Goodwill Store and keep searching when I would have walked away. 

These were simple, ordinary ways that a dad reached out to his child, to interact, to help. That he reached across time and space and energetic boundaries was extraordinary, but so like him. Happy birthday, Dad. I love you!

Which Movie for Movie Night?

I felt drawn all day to settle in and watch a movie tonight, after everything else on my to do list was crossed off. Amazon Prime has an abundance of films to choose from, and I have a selection across the genres, saved in my Watch List. 

The only problem was, which film would I watch? I couldn’t decide. 

Therefore, I took the decision out of my hands, and let the Divine choose for me. For one who used to fear the seemingly randomness of life, I’ve come to appreciate the deeper truths found in allowing life to unfold, as it will. What used to appear as randomness now offers significance and insight and guidance to me. 

On slips of paper, I wrote down six of my saved movie choices, folded them up, and dropped them into a bucket. This was a fun way to choose a movie for movie night. I let the movie pick me. 

Stirring the folded bits of paper, I closed my eyes and drew out tonight’s film:

I Capture the Castle was the first movie I looked at when I opened the Amazon Prime video app on my phone. Apparently, it was the perfect film to view. 

I Capture the Castle stars Romola Garai, Rose Byrne, Bill Nighy, Tara Fitzgerald, Henry Cavill, Henry Thomas, Joe Sowerbutts and Mark  Blucas. This 2003 British film, based on the novel of the same title by Dodie Smith, was directed by Tim Fywell. The movie is rated R, for brief nudity and sexuality, and has a run time of 1 hour and 53 minutes. 

This was indeed the perfect movie for tonight. Quirky and poignant, the story is told from the perspective of the 17 year old protagonist, Cassandra Mortmain (Garai). Her eccentric, and poor, family has lived for years in a picturesque but run down castle in England. Cassie’s reclusive father (Nighy), a writer with one penned novel that did moderately well, has not been able to produce a sequel. Money is scarce, and then nonexistent as writer’s block imprisons him. 

Cassie’s stepmother Topaz (Fitzgerald) inhabits her own artistic world, her younger brother (Sowerbutts) runs wild and her sister Rose (Byrne) feels as imprisoned within the castle as her father does within his writer’s study. Rose desires to escape her life, preferrably by marrying a wealthy man who will take her far away. 

The cast is rounded out by Stephen (Cavill), who having lived with and worked for the family for years, is simply content to be near Cassandra…and Simon (Thomas) and Neil (Blucas), American brothers who have arrived to claim an inheritance from an English uncle. The castle that the Mortmains occupy belongs now to the brothers. 

As the story unfolds, romance blossoms, but in very mismatched ways. And those who feel caged in, whether by their own choices or not, discover the way to freedom, and the costs. 

I very much enjoyed this randomly selected movie. The eccentricities appealed to me, as the family members expressed their creativities in a variety of unique ways. I adore cleverness, and this movie delivered it in abundance. I especially identified with Cassandra and her father, writers both of them. 

The father’s isolation and writer’s block were born from a deep sense of failure…not in his writing, but in his life. He closed his heart against the pain, and in protecting his heart, he closed to the flow of creativity. One of my favorite quotes from the movie is his:

“What good are words on a page? What good is anything if a man can’t open his heart and let himself out?” 

Powerful words, that I have embraced. What good is anything, if can’t open my heart and let myself out? This has been my journey. This is still my journey…keeping my heart open, refusing to close to protect from pain, and letting myself out. 

I Capture the Castle was a great little film. I loved that it ended, not tidily and happily ever after, but in a way that reflects the messiness and unpredictability of life. Isn’t that how life is…beautiful and messy, amazing and challenging…and isn’t that what allows us to grow?