Opa Was Watching
Lisa Turay, WA, USA
This story happened about five years ago when my children were two and four years old. They love this story, since they're in it, and they have me tell them again and again. It was their idea that I submit it.
I was recently separated from my former husband, which is a horror story in itself. The kids were small, and were having various difficulties adjusting. So here I am, a single mom, dragging two little kids around to their different therapies. I was a bit frazzled myself. While out and about, my son, Oscar, who was two at the time always held my left hand, while my daughter, Ella who was four would hold my right hand. She was a bit of a runner, so I always had to keep a tight grip on her. Oscar was a velcro baby, and never strayed. Until this day.
We were leaving a large office building after the various therapeutic appointments. The building was about eight stories, with three levels of parking underneath. We had parked on the second level down. As we exited the elevator, I momentarily released Oscar's hand so that I could fish my car keys from my pocket. He impishly turned and ran back into the elevator. I'll never forget the look of horror on his face and his scream fading away as the elevator took him. The doors closed before I could get him. I frantically pounded the button for the elevator to return, but another one came in its stead. There was no floor indicator, so I didn't know which direction his elevator had gone. I returned with Ella to the lobby, and notified security. They instantly got on their two way radios to secure all exits. Meanwhile my daughter kept asking me, "Where's Oscar? Will we see him again?" I was trying not to be short with her, but my throat was choking up and my heart was racing and my palms were soaked. I dragged her all over the lobby each time I heard a child crying. I've never been more frightened in my life.
My charming, benevolent and gracious father-in-law had died a month earlier, eleven days after a visit with us. As I stood there, helpless, security asking me the same questions again and again, I saw him. He wasn't ten yards away. He stood there smiling at me, bent over due to his bad back just as he had done when I last saw him. I said to my daughter, "Do you see who that is?" Without hesitating she said "It's Opa!" He was fresh in the her memory. Just then the elevator doors opened, and a handsome man (hey I was single!) exited holding my son in his arms. I burst into tears, and grabbed Oscar. He had been found wandering around the third level of the parking garage. Being only two years old and small, it's a wonder he hadn't been hit by a car. I turned to Opa, who just five seconds ago was standing there, and he was gone.
I told some people, saying things like "I could have sworn it was Irving!" or "There was an old man who looked just like Irving!" When I finally told my mother-in-law four days later, I described what he was wearing. He had on his grey wool pants, navy blazer, and his black beret. She gasped and said, "I finally gave away all of his clothing last week. Everything except his grey wool pants, navy blazer and his black beret."
Opa was watching.