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Dandelions Don't Grow in November

   My ninety-year-old father entered the hospital for the last time in November 2006. His frail body was giving out at last.
   As he clung tenaciously to life, my sister and I were called on four occasions, alerting us to come and say our goodbyes. I would make the two-hour trek and arrive to find him very much alive, his mind and eyes alert.
    One Friday, my pager and cell phone buzzed at the same time. I knew this had to be bad news. I left work and raced to the hospital.  Once again, he was sitting up in bed, asking for a coffee.
    As happy as I was to see him still breathing, the false alarms were jangling my nerves.
     “Gee, Dad,” I said, “you’re like the dandelions on my lawn ... we just can’t get rid of you!” We laughed together.
    This time, though, the news truly was grim. There would be no miracles. His time was almost up.
    For the first time since I was a girl, I held onto his hand. I talked to him about death, funeral plans, and Heaven.
    “When life is done, it’s done.” That was his theory. I disagreed.
    “When you go, I’ll look up and wave. You wave back, okay?”
       “I don’t think I’ll be doing any waving. My arms will be a little stiff,” he said with a grin.
     But I prevailed upon him. “Dad, in case you’re wrong, and I’m right, could you send me a sign? No thunderbolts or anything. Just a little sign.”
      He said, with his inimitable humour, if he got there he’d send me a ticket.
       My sister Lorraine quipped, “Could you make it a winning lottery ticket?”
       He passed away during the night.
       I waited for the sign, sure it would come. I checked the moon, the stars, the clouds, the sunset. Nothing.
      By the next afternoon, I was getting anxious. Even a bit annoyed. I had been so sure, and my faith was being challenged. Where was he?
      The night before his funeral, I had an overwhelming urge to go for a walk, like I was being pulled outside. I found myself following my father’s footsteps when he’d visited in the spring, along the winding driveway, across the expanse of lawn, down to the pond. Standing on the dock, I looked up to the clear November sky.
            “You’re up there, aren’t you,” I said. Still nothing.
       I turned to walk away, and there it was. In the frosty grass, amid fallen leaves and dying flowers, one perfect, bright, yellow dandelion.
       My dad is in Heaven, and he sent me a dandelion.
       Lorraine went straight out and bought a lottery ticket.