Friday, October 22, 2010


Where do feathers come from?
And tell me this.
How does the feather know
To show up
At just the right time?

I was in Rite Aide,
Shopping for toilet paper,
Not exactly a convenient place
For tears.

But it was one of those moments.
Can’t say sad exactly, but
Definitely emotional.

Missing someone.
Wishing we could be

And the phone rings.
O my God,
It’s you.
Just calling to say
I love you.


As we end our call,
I’m walking out of Rite Aide
Heading for my car.

You probably already figured out
The rest of the story.

There on the asphalt
Is this gorgeous feather.

Where DO feathers come from?
And how does a feather know
This is the moment?

Forgot to mention that the Bank also called today for Roberta!!

Written by Vernon Bradley 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Doris' Rose

These plants and little bunny used to don Doris' air conditioning unit.  After she left for the hospital, my wife continued to care for these little plants.  We watched, shortly after she passed this tiny little rose blossom and bloom into a lovely little flower.  And from where I'm sitting, this little rose makes a nice testament to the concept of life after death.  This might be Doris' sign to us that she's still with us in spirit and will be sending us more little blessings like this...  Time will only tell.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And then there was deal number two...

And then there was deal number two...

Sold a car. Found a feather.

Sold a car. Found a feather.  Amazing how that works.  And amazing how it winds up right in front of the car I'm selling.  Come back from the test drive, hop out of the car and there it is looking up at me.  That's when you know you got a deal here...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Among Angels by Jane Seymour

So, I get a message on Facebook from a school chum.  I went to 8 years of Catholic School with her.  She stumbled, like most do, into this blog and shared some of her own loss and experience with grief and then went on to tell me about this book here.

Among Angels by Jane Seymour is a book about first and formost love.  At least from what I can tell!  I haven't read it yet!  But trust me, I will.  And here's why:

Here's an exerpt from the book which I found at ABC News:

"Mother's Messages: Just after my mother Mieke passed away, my sisters noticed that at their feet--where they always sat and watched her--was a white feather. They looked around the room and found no source of feathers. When they called her close friend to tell her the news, she was in my mother's house, and said she had just discovered a white feather under the portrait of my mother that I had painted.

Since then, Mieke's white feather has appeared in our lives many times in many places. Sometimes it will show up humorously, like at a party we're sure she didn't want to miss. But they most often appear when we are in a moment of indecision, when we don't quite know what to do. James found one in a script he was having trouble working with. I just found one in my girlfriend's car.

My mother lived with an open heart, and we believe she is still very much in our lives. As soon as you see the feather, it instantly puts you into a conversation with her, and you can hear her advice. By constantly reminding us of her presence, she continues to share her wisdom and love with us even though she cannot physically be here."

This to me is just another testment that there's more out there than we sometimes care to believe or feel we're capable of handling.  I look forward to an inspiring read and will share my findings...

Well look at what showed up on the way in to work...

But what to my wondering eyes should appear!  I told myself not to look.  I know if I started "looking" I'd never find a feather today.

Happy Birthday once again ma'.  We'll be having Marie Callender's for dinner.  Let's see if they offer Beef Stroganoff!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Last year, my father wrote a Hub about my mom.  Today, October 8th is her birthday.  This year, she would be 75.  I'm trying to imagine what she would have looked like had she made it to 75.  Which brings me to last night's Facebook exchange.



Marianne Byers I miss Roberta. Noel's godmother.

Jacob Byers I miss her so much too, I love envisioning my kids running up to her to show her stuff, and her being there with her welcoming smile and gentle presence.

Neffertti S. Bradley I like that,a beautiful ageless woman in heaven! I thank you Roberta for David.He is a wonderful human being. He is my angel on this earth...

How lucky we all are to know you Roberta Marie O'Neill Bradley.  Thank you for making your presence known and for watching over me, my family, friends and my wife.  Thank you for showing me love, compassion, and forgiveness.  I miss being able to see you in physical form.  I miss being able to hug you.  But I still "see" you and feel your presence everyday.

Since you left this earth, you've still been teaching me.  I'm learning more about true faith, connecting to infinity and way more open.  Please keep the lessons coming...

Happy Birthday once again! 

It's 7:45 am.  Today is Doris' Funeral.  Ironic?  Let's see what the day holds...  Eyes and ears open everyone!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fair Winds, Doris. May the wind always be on your back.

"Fair winds" is a nautical term.  It is one of the ways sailors say goodbye.  I like the implication though because  it isn't a permanent farewell.  "Fair winds" says you're going on a journey.  "May the wind always be on your back" is wishing the sailor an easy voyage.  And looking at it from the point of view of those of us staying in port; here we are, sending off someone we've grown to know and even love, wishing them a safe journey and praying for their safety.  All the while with a subtle knowledge that we will see them again.

Doris was our neighbor.  She was in her 80's.  She was from Texas and even though she had lived here in Los Angeles for many, many years she still had a little drawl on her.  In the mornings she would get up before the rest of the building and patrol the property.  Making sure all was safe and secure.  Every cat in the building would be at the door or window to greet her as she made her laps around the first and second floors.  She knew the mailman's schedule better the the mailman.  If you left town for a few days, you could guarantee yourself a full report of the goings on in the building upon your return.

Doris had  seen the Great Depression as a child, experienced the Second World War from the home front, was around to watch Elvis on Ed Sullivan, then the Beatles, Vietnam, Watergate...  Doris was a witness to history.  Her life experience came from a different point of view.  She saw a side of this country that younger people hopefully will never have to.  Especially when you listen to and learn from Doris.

Doris knew everyone in the building.  Some more than others, but never the less, she knew everyone and everyone knew her.  Most of us had a little Doris Job to work on.  Apt 18 would take out her trash every morning, Apt. 15 would help with bills, Apt. 20 dialed the phone.  Apt. 12 would take her for a burger.  Everyone had a little job.  And it was OK.  Doris was like our resident Grandma.

She lived alone in her little time capsule called Apartment 19.  Not a whole lot had changed in there since the 60's.  Pictures of loved ones long gone and loved ones still here were strewn about the apartment.  Her life as we knew it here in the building was simple and quiet.

She had moments though where, as her eyesight began to fail her, she would need help dialing the phone, reading a letter, a phone number, confirming a time or appointment.  Many times we thought her request for help was also spawned by her need to just talk to someone or have someone around.  We could all tell she was lonely.  It is hard to see someone struggle with loneliness.  You do the best you can to spend time with her, grant her attention when she needs it and comfort her when she has that look...

Doris used to have a look that I know and understand.  It was a look of fear.  Anxiety.  Doris was suffering in Apartment 19.  She never lost her whit though.  She always kept good humor, even when you could tell she was depressed.  She would make little hints as to why the depression and anxiety plagued her and she would talk often about keeping God close to her.  She recited The Serenity Prayer often. I think we all did our best to comfort her and tried to help keep her spirits up.

As she got closer to her time, she spoke of dying a little more frequently and talked about being in heaven with God.  I don't think she wished for death but I do think that as her body began to give out and she saw her time on this planet coming to a close that she was ready to some extent and more than anything just wanting to get it over with.  This is one of the symptoms of anxiety.  I understood this part of Doris and felt entirely helpless to do anything about it.

Last Thanksgiving when I realized she would be alone and not with her family, I called Jerry's Deli and had a turkey dinner delivered to her.  Thinking if she knew who it was from she may be too proud to accept it, I had the driver tell her it was from Santa Claus.  Well that backfired!  She, not knowing who it was from refused to eat it for fear someone might be trying to poison her.  A fine case of "it's the thought that counts."  I never admitted to being Santa Claus.

While we were on vacation recently, Doris fell and hurt her back.   The doctors said she was OK and sent her home.  She however continued to be in pain...

One early morning there was commotion outside.  It had been a few weeks since the fall, she was still hurting and the pain was just too much.  Outside was an ambulance, her daughter and son-in-law.  Doris was on the gurney and heading down the stairs with that look I know so well.  I wondered if this was the beginning of the end for Doris.

The building went on yellow alert.  Keeping in contact with her family and passing updates to one another.

Meanwhile, feathers began to accumulate on her screen door.  This to me said the journey for Doris is about to change.  This is the beginning of the end.  Doris was getting ready to change course in a big way.

If you're reading this for the first time and wonder what the deal with feathers is, just know that for me (and a few others), a feather can be a que from those that have gone before us.  In this case, my mother.  When times are hard, when I am in need of reassurance or validation a feather tends to pop up in places too specific to just be "coincidence."  If you'd like to read more about that, take a look at an article I wrote called "Trains, Feathers and Butterflies"

Soon we found out Doris had a small fracture on her back and that they were going operate.  She also had a broken foot.  She had her surgery and was scheduled to go to rehab for a while and then there was talk of maybe coming back, maybe going to live with her family, maybe an assisted living center.  Clearly, Doris had other plans.

From rehab, Doris wasn't eating and didn't seem all that interested in getting back on her feet. She was confused and tired.  Eventually, she had to go back to the hospital.  That's when a few more feathers showed up on her door.  Time to pay Doris a visit.

My wife and I headed down to the hospital on a Tuesday night.  Her family was there.  She was visiting with her daughter, son-in-law, and grand-daughter.  Doris seemed peaceful, confused, happy, impatient, witty, and scared all at the same time.  She told us about who in the building has been by and about the handsome boy back at the rehab clinic.  After her family had gone home Doris made a comment about being in heaven by Thanksgiving.  I told her not to worry about when she winds up in heaven and to assume that if she's still here that God's got a few more things for her to do before he's going to call her home.  I also told her that while she's here she's got an obligation to get better.  It was my two cents.  Once again, clearly, Doris and God had it all worked out and perhaps I should have just kept my big trap shut.  We humans are interesting in our attempts to control things we don't yet fully understand...

The last week of September.  Monday the 27th was a dry Las Vegas style heat that set records in Los Angeles but by Tuesday the clouds had rolled in and the weather turned tropical and humid.  Still hot though but not as bad due to the scattered showers, moist air and occasional spark of lightening.  Wednesday was a beautiful day and an even more beautiful evening.  As we drove to my in-laws for dinner we saw a beautiful rainbow.  It was 6:20 in the evening.  I took a few pictures with my cell phone.  The need to capture this was incredible.  The sunset that night was simply breathtaking.  It was one of those sunsets where you wonder if you look close enough maybe you can catch a quick glimpse of the gates of heaven.  

My in-laws have a missionary in training staying with them.  After dinner this man and I spoke about God, God's love, and God's relationship with us humans.  We talked about what it means to be "Christian."

The next morning, our neighbor from across the hall came by to tell us that Doris had passed away early Wednesday evening.  Sometime after the rainbow but before the sunset.  Looks like Doris got her wish.  Thanksgiving with Jesus! 

Then this shows up on Doris' screen door!  Where in the Sam-hell did this come from?  It wasn't there on Wednesday?!?!  My logical brain told me that yes, even though something subtly miraculous is happening on this screen door right now these are still mostly small feathers that could have been blown here by the wind.  Never mind the fact that they're ONLY on Doris' door.  This is a big feather that looks almost placed.  It was also the day I found all those feathers in the pool.  I wrote a blog on that and the lessons we can learn from Feathers in the Pool.  But now as I write this, I can't help but wonder if there was an additional message going on.  

I will let you, the reader, make your own interpretation.  But for me, this was Mom's way of letting me know Doris is with her, that she was there to help Doris' set sail on her new journey and that once again, I need to enjoy the mystery and give myself permission to not try so hard to figure it out.

Was there anything else I learned from Doris?  Yes, but that may be for another blog.  At this moment, I would like to send Doris off with an Irish blessing.  Now, as I said in the beginning, this is not goodbye.  I fully expect to have a few more encounters with Doris.  I'm not sure how, but I am confident that she will watch over us and give blessings to this building.  She may also haunt and terrorize the Manager a bit, but only out of love.  

Thank you Doris for being our neighbor.  Thank you for the laughs, the wisdom, the updates.  Thank you for watching over us and thank you for being you...

"May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand."