Walking Dad to the Doorway

Donald Graham Memorial_Scan Apr 14, 2014, 10.25 PM 12As I ease into this day, with its gentle breezes whispering secrets in the rustling leaves of bright green trees, my heart harmonizes with my mind and I realize it’s time. It is time to write about my father, the man who gave me life. As a Snake Priestess, I have been guided by the Serpent to understand and surrender to all the stages of life: birth and rebirth and the transmutation that occurs between them! Yet what a shock it was for me to arrive at my father’s bedside when he was taking his final breaths.

These words were written 49 days after his transition. This is the period of time that takes the soul to journey through the bardo. I never imagined that I would be the one escorting him to the gate at the end of his life. For some reason I believed it would be easier, that I would just show up at his funeral, get in, get out and be done! Yet that’s not how it happened. The ancestral bonds of DNA are strong, stronger than our minds could ever comprehend. Moreover, the love for one’s kin is stronger than death! Even in its most bent and fractured form, love is still able to transcend death! I know I am truly blessed with a great family. Without my brother, sister and mother, my husband and my son, I could not have done this.

In the weeks leading up to my father’s final days, I was beset with strange somatic symptoms. These dark and dismal moods swings, from anger to elation, kept me occupied and at a loss with life’s daily rites. I thought I was dying! My home was an absolute mess and the only thing that brought me comfort was my daily dance practice and collaging. I dove deep into the artistic process, using all the angst for some creative unconscious art. The natural world also brought me great comfort, as I escaped routinely to the woods for silent contemplation.

Dad had been brought home and was under the care of hospice and the constant attention of my family. I was waiting, perched and ready to fly from my northern California paradise to the desert West Texas town of El Paso. Daily calls to check in with my family kept me in a continuous process of soul inquiry. Slowly I realized I needed to decide when I would go back to my birthplace and say farewell. All the while, I still believed I would only go for a funeral. And then I could be done with it. Yet Spirit had something else in store for me. I knew I had to complete something with my dad but what it was, I knew not…

scan0001He was a man who was functionally different from me in every way; our world views and ways of expressing ourselves were poles apart. I am an artist, visionary, sacred dancer and priestess. He was a mechanic, a gun-toting Texan, a real man’s man.

I never felt understood or seen or even loved by my dad. So often he made fun of my holistic lifestyle and my spiritual pursuits. He was not affectionate as I was growing up, and I don’t ever remember being told that I was pretty. In fact, he had been downright abusive in every way. Hence, I had a lot of issues with anger and forgiveness. The last thing I wanted to do was be a caregiver to him on his deathbed. Still, as a priestess, my heart couldn’t bear the agony, neither his nor my own.

One afternoon, as I walked out to our beautiful bird sanctuary, a light misty rain was falling, and in the pond two swans floated peacefully. Above me in the sky, in a stroke of sunlight, a sudden double rainbow appeared! I understood, the almighty power of the universe was providing me with this beautiful scene as an illustration of absolute grace. I knew that I needed to go home and book my flight right then!

I told my husband that I needed him and my son to come with me, he agreed, and we made the reservations that evening for the following week. At this point, no one knew when my dad would pass, but something in my being told me that I needed to get on a plane as soon as possible.

My family informed me that dad’s condition was going up and down, better one moment, and on the brink the next. It still seemed like his soul was waiting for a resolution of some kind. Troubles like old family curses often do prevent the soul from moving on, and this was the case. My mother had refused to let my dad’s only brother see him, and even threatened to not invite him to the funeral.

We wrangled with this roadblock until my sister took the liberty of calling my uncle herself. That very day he came and sat with his brother for one last time. My dad had practically raised him because their father had left the family when they were just young boys. This was during the depression and they were very poor. My father would hunt food for the family. My uncle’s own survival largely owed to my father’s bravery.

Since my initiation as a priestess, I have studied the sacred masculine, the gods and the green man. Now I have a fuller understanding of man as a hunter, provider and protector. How long I had misunderstood this important part of the masculine psyche until this very moment!

Dad seemed to be more at ease now that he had seen his brother and I was about to arrive. My sweet brother and sister kept his energy up, sponge soaked in watermelon juice. They spoke to him gently, telling him that I was coming to see him soon so he needed to let the hospice care provider give him a bath.


My family and I got on the plane hoping we would get there in time to say goodbye. During a brief layover as we boarded our connecting flight the ticket attendant said to me “You are the most beautiful woman and you have such a bright and free spirit.!!!” My son exclaimed, “That’s my mom!!!!” I was completely stunned – my goodness did this woman even know that I was boarding the plane to give my last respects to my dying father??? Was she an angel sent by my father’s spirit???


As the plane landed the cloud formations were all shapes like angels and the brightest light appeared from out of the clouds! We checked into our hotel and had dinner and then immediately went over to my family home late that night. I anointed everyone and myself with sacred essential oils before going into dad’s room. My brother and sister spoke to him telling him that I had arrived, briefly his eyes opened in recognition of me and he said “thank you, good night”. We spoke prayers to him and said our farewell and left around two in the morning. We came back the next day and watched and waited and waited and watched as he began going deeper into his departure.

When I was alone with him, I anointed him from head to toe with the oil of frankincense, which he really seemed to love. I noticed that he looked like an Egyptian mummy, and that there was a presence about him as though we had lived this together before in another lifetime. I saw his pure Starseed soul essence was most evident and I was in utter amazement! Here was this man that I had only known as a redneck Texan appearing to me as sacred soul kindred from eons ago.

I told him that he could drop this bag of flesh and bones and go home to his divine essence. His breathing and his heartbeat were so strong! He became nothing but breath and heart beat. We left again at 2 AM while my brother sister and mother set themselves up in the room for an all-night vigil.

I told daddy that he could sleep with the Angels and as an aside, if he wanted he could play some tricks on us with his spirit body. He was always quite a trickster.

And he did just that the next morning, when we found our hotel room door which had been dead bolted standing wide open.

We received the call that he had gone. It was Palm Sunday, April 13th. I noted that this was the exact date of my mentor’s birthday, born in the Chinese year of the snake 96 years to the day before this occasion. My dad was also born in a snake year, 12 years later.

We hurried over to the house and spent the whole day with him, toasting him, sharing his favorite foods, telling fun stories and remembering all the good times that we had with him.

His heart stayed warm for the next 10 hours and a gentle smile played across his face. We knew that he was at peace at last.