Patricia R. Antolino
My dad was always my champion ~ the one person in my family I felt safe with. Oh, don’t get me wrong, his bouts of anger and frustration scared the pants off me, but there was a pull between us, a quiet understanding, and many similarities. I believed my dad could do anything. He hung purple and pink striped wallpaper up in my room, made me a desk and shelves, even built a coat closet in the hallway, fixed his own car, could bake a cake between Ponderosa commercials, and made the best Italian meatballs.
With my mom working nights at Howard Johnson’s on Fordham Road in the Bronx as a waitress, I was responsible for cleaning the house on the weekends, which included laundry. It never failed that Dad would come in from the garage where he was fixing or building something when the washing machine spun its final cycle and helped me hang the clothes on an umbrella drying rack he put up in our small backyard. We didn’t use words much … he would just look at me with those baby blue eyes of his and give me a wink, a smile, and a sweet nod of his head.
After Dad’s second heart attack and a myriad of other health challenges, even though he was far from retirement age, his doctors recommended he do just that and move South away from the cold and snow. With my brother living in Tampa after graduating from St. Leo College, Dad and Mom made the move South. Dad was so loved by his friends and family that many also came to Tampa. One of his friends even bought the lot next to Dad’s where he was having a house built. As construction began, arrowheads and shards of pottery were discovered. Since the land was right by a canal, we assumed it was once the home of the Pohoy native tribe or possibly the Seminole tribe. My parents loved their new home and with family and friends in the area, they had many a celebration at the house.
I had been living in a spiritual community in California for a few years when I came back to Tampa to visit. A few days after I arrived, with my mom busy watering her plants on the back porch, Dad got up out of his favorite well-worn brown La-Z-Boy recliner, quietly made the sound ‘pssst’, and nudged his head toward his bedroom. I put my book down, and followed, wondering what he had up his sleeve.
“You know we’re going out of town this weekend, and I was wondering if you would sleep in my bed.”
Well, this was interesting I thought.
“Sure, okay. That’s easy enough to do. Is there a reason why?” Oh, I was super curious. “Well, every night, after I’m sound asleep, I feel the covers being pulled up over my shoulders. It’s not your mother doing it, so I want to see if it happens to you and you can figure out who or what is doing that.”
I wasn’t surprised he asked me to do this … my folks knew of my deep faith in Spirit and that I had studied occult sciences and the paranormal.
“Yeah, no problem.”
“And please don’t tell your mother.”
“There, across the room, stood a luminous golden brown man wearing breechcloth, with his long, dark hair in two braids, watching, as if he was waiting for me to wake up. “
Yes, it’s true, we had many secrets just between us that circled around the paranormal. I was beyond excited. Every time I stayed at their house, it was inevitable I would feel a presence of entities moving about, especially in the long hallway. There was nothing malevolent, just a whoosh of energy going by me. So, needless to say, Friday night couldn’t come fast enough. I did my usual nightly routine and then got into my Dad’s bed and went into a deep sleep. At some point, sure enough, I felt the covers being pulled over my shoulders. My eyes wouldn’t open right way. I began repeating, ‘wake up, wake up, you need to wake up,’ and … finally … I did. I opened my eyes and, because I had been sleeping on my side, pushed myself up with both hands and turned. There, across the room, stood a luminous golden brown man wearing a breechcloth, with his long, dark hair in two braids, watching, as if he were waiting for me to wake up. He looked young, maybe in his late 20s, and, okay, I have to say this … he was built!
We met each other’s eyes and then he said quietly, “There is no need to worry. I am here to protect your father.” The only words I could say at that moment were, “Thank you.” And then he was gone.
Ugh! There were so many things I wanted to ask, to say, to know.
Since there was no getting back to sleep, I walked to the kitchen, made myself some chamomile tea, sat in Dad’s favorite chair, wrote in my journal, and cried. I felt humbled and honored. I couldn’t wait for Dad to get home so I could give him the scoop.
Once upon a time there were two sisters who had each been given a coloring book with Christmas Holiday themes, as well as a new box of crayons. Money was always tight, so mom and dad wanted them to have something special a few weeks in advance of Christmas itself. It was hoped this would put the girls in a good mood and keep them occupied rather than asking a million questions.
After a few days, the sisters agreed to color the last page, depicting a very happy Santa, in each other’s book rather than their own. They retreated to their own little corners to do this without one another seeing the progress and then to present the finished job to each other at once.
The younger sister, Melanie, chose a traditional approach while the other sister, Bobbie, who wasn’t generally an artistic type, was feeling creative. Bobbie thought this Santa looked so much like the one on the Coca-Cola posters that she decided that he needed a different color outfit so that he was special for her sister. Instead of the typical red suit with white trim Bobbie gave him a forest green and white one. Was she ever proud of the outfit she gave him! No other Santa was dressed as interestingly as this!
She'd even written "Merry Christmas Melanie, Love Bobbie XOXO" at the top of the page!
She was crushed when Melanie took one glance at it and began wailing about how her Christmas coloring book was now ruined! Their parents thought something truly terrible had happened; actually, when they saw it, they agreed with Melanie. Bobbie was only too happy to calmly explain her reasoning behind such a special outfit, as well as to point out the careful even strokes and having stayed within the lines. Would she have done that if she wanted to ruin Santa? She’d even written “Merry Christmas Melanie, Love Bobbie XOXO” at the top of the page!
Bobbie was stunned when after all her usual honesty, her parents continued to agree with Melanie and were flabbergasted that she would have done such a terrible thing. After some deliberation, they concluded that the sisters would now own the other’s coloring book. In addition, Bobbie would have to write a sincere apology, as well as read it to the whole family. What she didn’t know was that family would retell this story well many times and well into the girls’ adulthood.
To this day, Melanie thought it was some kind of cruel joke. Bobbie has learned to laugh, sometimes uncontrollably in disbelief that something so well intentioned could have been so misunderstood. She sincerely wanted Melanie’s Santa to look extra special. However, to this day Bobbie blames her family for squelching budding artistic flare at such a young age and she’s rarely taken a creative approach to any type of craft project. Perhaps that’s why she loves going to galleries of all sorts to admire the work of so many others.”
Patricia R. Antolino was born and raised in the Bronx in the 1950s. A self-avowed hippie, she couldn’t have asked for a better time to grow up. The civil rights movement, protests against the Vietnam war, and the women’s movement kept her engaged and solidified her desire to bring peace and remembrance of our connection to each other. After she retired, she moved to Tampa where she considered herself lucky to connect with Marilyn Myerson’s Imaginative Writing Group, and became a member of her “Crew.” Patricia’s lifelong desire is to bring hope, joy, and a smile to those she meets and through the stories she shares.
Roberta (Bobbie) Z. Muir has an extensive background in Career Counseling, Job Search Coaching and Human Resources in the public, private and educational sectors. At USF she developed and implemented the Career Peer Program and designed and managed a student-to-student helping program. She received the Outstanding Staff for Student Success award in recognition of her impact on students’ achievement. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY Buffalo and a master’s in counseling from USF. She volunteered for the Maureen B. Gauzza Library in Hillsborough County including a three-year term as President of the Friends of Library and has been an active OLLI volunteer for over seven years.
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