I was shopping in a Christian store when I came across the Candy Maker’s Witness bracelet. I’ve seen the candy cane witness ornaments, but, never the bracelet. The colors defined: white of Jesus’ purity and the red of Jesus’ suffering. It was not this witness that prompted me to buy the bracelet — it was my Papa — my grandfather. A bracelet with little glass peppermints.
A vivid memory of my childhood is the bag of Brach’s Star Brite peppermints that my Papa kept in a Kleenex box in the front seat of his Ford Falcon 1970 1/2 paint wagon. Papa was a professional commercial and residential painter by trade. I never knew Papa as a smoker but the peppermints were a result of his quiting the habit. I remember being small enough to have to stand on tip toes to see if the peppermints were in the wagon — yes, but it was locked. I’d then find Papa sitting out on the front lawn and tug on his sleeve. “Papa, can I have a peppermint, please?” He would give me the keys to unlock the wagon — or come himself. Papa also gave me my first Bible on December 25, 1973. I asked for a white leather Bible that “zipped up” around the sides with my name on it. That is exactly what I got.
The Summer of 1998, when I began Inquiry into the Catholic Church, my mother gave me a few items that were his. I have a small crucifix — the sort that appears to have come from the end of a rosary — perhaps the size of rosary worn on a habit. I have a small Our Lady of Perpetual Help medal that I wear daily. I have a small pamphlet titled “A Daily Visit to The Blessed Sacrament” with the Imprimatur, William Turner, Bishop of Buffalo. I have a small prayer card “A Remembrance of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.” My grandfather journaled and wrote songs and poetry. In his journal, he’s written “In Memory of All Saints Day, 1929” and another titled “Christmas Duty” imploring “Pray for us blessed Virgin Mother.” I was stunned. There will be a separate article written on my discoveries so I move along.
In the Summer of 1998, I had a dream one night. I dreamed that I was sitting on a pew in the front of a church — the images flashed between the sanctuary of my Baptist Church and that of St. Philip Benizi. I was sitting next to an uncle who had passed away a few years before — my mom’s oldest brother — my Papa’s oldest son. I was looking at the floor and I was aware of my spiritual struggles. While looking at the floor, I saw that I was looking at feet standing in front of me. As I raised my head up and looked, It was my Papa — happy, smiling, twinkling eyes, almost a joyful laughter — I knew he was pleased with where I was going spiritually. He didn’t say a word but he was happy — I felt approval and I remembered the dream. I felt affirmed in continuing my Inquiry — important because the Rite of Acceptance into the Catachumenate was drawing near.
A couple months ago, I was praying Evening Prayer from my Liturgy of the Hours. I pray aloud. After the intercessions, I offer my own intentions before praying the Our Father. I offered up prayers for my family — more recently I’ve asked my Papa to comfort them in some way. I don’t make a habit of praying for signs but of praying that I can hear God speak to me. I am half-way through my prayers when a humming noise starts. I thought the ceiling fan in my sun room might be the cause. I continued to pray and the noise continued. I refused to figure out what it was until I had completed the last of my prayer time. Finally, I got up and walked to the door of my sun room and it was not the fan — the noise was now to my right ear. I looked at the TV and cable box — they were off. I looked down at my lead crystal candy jar full of Star Brite peppermints — it is the jar. It is coming from the jar. My jar of peppermint candies is making a high pitched humming noise. I smiled and said out loud, “It’s Papa — Hello, are you here? Papa?” I listened and smiled for a bit. Finally, I took my hands and placed them around the jar in a hug — the noise ceased. I opened the jar and unwrapped a peppermint — “thanks, I love you Papa.”