My father passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. One of his hobbies was building replicas of cannons out of discarded parts. That’s how he got his nickname, “Cannon Ball Pete.” He also had a coin collection and loved to play pinochle and poker.
So when a psychic told me, “Your father comes to you in cards and coins,” I anxiously waited for a sign.
My father, having lived through the Great Depression, was forever telling us: “Look down, you might find some money.” Finding a few pennies would bring us treats at Tony’s, a candy store near our large house on the West Side of Buffalo.
My parents lived in the upper dwelling and rented the remaining apartments to tenants. By third grade, my family had sold the property and we moved closer to Dad’s factory job at the Ford Stamping Plant, south of the city.
A former high school classmate of mine named Eileen, along with my younger sister Mary Ellen and my brother Peter, were taking art classes together. As fate would have it, Mary Ellen was painting our old house on canvas. She hadn’t been born yet when we had lived there, but she had always appreciated the architectural design and the stories we had told her.
When Eileen walked by and glanced at the painting, she immediately said, “I know that house.”
“You do?” said Mary Ellen.
Eileen replied: “Isn’t that a house on Elmwood Avenue?”
My sister explained that it was the house her siblings had lived in many years ago on Elmwood.
Eileen had recognized the house because friends of hers now owned it. My siblings and I had always dreamed of revisiting our childhood home. When I later found out that the upper apartment was vacant, and currently for rent, I knew this was no coincidence. With Eileen’s help, a walk-through happened one fine February day. Thoughts of my father were strong and I was hoping he would give us a sign that he had arrived on “the other side” and was watching over us.
It wasn’t long before we found some old coins in the far corner of the attic. Could this be the sign? It just didn’t seem proof enough. Remembering the psychic’s words, “Your father comes to you in cards and coins,” I thought: So where are the cards?
Our tour was almost over when Mary Ellen found a plastic bag in front of the house. Two unused Valentine’s Day cards were inside.
“This is definitely a sign from Dad,” I said to her. “Don’t you get it? It’s not playing cards, but cards from Dad.” This discovery was beyond our wildest dreams. We were blessed, not with aces or spades, but Valentine’s Day cards full of hearts and messages of love.
The cover of one of the cards was titled, “Cupid Card Factory.” Inside the card, assembly lines of people were mass producing valentines. This was incredible, since my father had also worked on the assembly line.
The final clincher came when I was driving home, reminiscing about all that had just happened. I blurted out, “OK, Dad, if that was really you, send me another sign.”
I turned on the car radio, and the very first words I heard were, “Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock and roll.”
I was blown away. The message was loud and clear.
“Thanks, Dad – I mean, Cannon Ball Pete. I love you, too.”
Karen Adragna Walsh, an “outside-the-box” thinker who lives in Orchard Park, found a way to reconnect with her father.