Tales of the Unexplained, Part 4

In the spring following my dad’s death (Spring 1984), I had a very strange and moving conversation with my mother, who began by nervously telling me she had decided to let the funeral parlor that had cremated my father’s body dispose of his ashes. She was, she said, very worried that this was somehow improper for her to have done. But then she continued, “I was in the bedroom the other day, very upset and wondering if I’d done the right thing in letting the funeral home take care of your father’s ashes. So I finally said aloud, ‘I hope you don’t mind what I’ve done, Pat. I just didn’t know what else to do.’ ”

“Just then, Mark, the music box your father gave me started playing!” I looked at her in surprise. That music box was an intricate, complicated little gizmo. You have to open doors and push little buttons in it to make it go.

I asked my mom, “Did you bump the table it was sitting on somehow or move it in some way?”

“No,” she said. “You know and I know you have to open that music box for it to play, but it just sat there—closed—and playing the theme from ‘Dr. Zhivago.’ (It had been “their song”.) I tell you, it made the hair stand up on my neck, but it also made me feel so peaceful.”

This incident happened while I was still Evangelical and had grave reservations about things like “communion with the dead” (which was indistinguishable from “seance” as far as I could tell). I’ve since changed my views. But that’s another story.