Paranormal funeral activity.

Years ago, during my grandmother’s wake service, one of the floor lamps in the room mysteriously shut itself off. Towards the end of the service, the same lamp turned itself back on. Almost simultaneously my family concluded that my grandmother’s spirit was indeed in the room. Since that day I’ve learned to be more alert to these spiritual presences at each funeral I’ve attended since.

A few months ago I attended a memorial service for my father that definitely had a strong spiritual presence to it. He had been cremated and his ashes stored in an urn on the table with lovely flower arrangements gracing the two ends of the table. When I first saw the urn, I could feel an empowering presence in front of the table, almost spherical in form, no doubt my father himself in spirit standing in front of the urn. Never before had I felt such a powerful presence.

Later, during that same service, as I was watching the pastor speak, my eyes began playing tricks on me. In the corner of my eye the urn appeared to take the form of my father’s head, and the red cloth that draped the stand on which the urn rested became his favorite red shirt, almost making it seem my father was standing right there and hearing every word.

The following morning, just before I woke up, I heard in my head the words, “The service is over. Relax clearly, my friends.” If that’s not a message from beyond I don’t know what is.

Laugh at me if you want but I take little signs like these that there does tend to be a spiritual presence during a funeral and when you open your mind to it, it can become quite soothing.

A bone to pick with Palm Tran.

The one thing that really bothers me most about my sister-in-law’s recent passing is that her death was easily preventable and should never have happened had someone been doing their job a little more thoroughly.

I speak of whoever was driving the Palm Tran bus to take my sister-in-law to her mother’s house. She was going backwards down the steps of the bus trying to carry her bags when she lost her balance and fell off the steps, critically injuring her head and eventually succumbing to her injuries about a week later. I didn’t witness the accident but from what I hear the driver may not have done enough to prevent the accident from happening. An investigation is ongoing and I really don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but I sense Palm Tran itself may most likely be liable.

I don’t know how this aftermath is going to play out or whether a lawsuit will be involved during the resolution of this crisis. It would most likely result in some sort of financial compensation to cover our losses, which would be needless, for human life cannot be measured in dollars and cents. No amount can ever bring our beloved sister-in-law back.

If nothing else, the driver should have attended the funeral and view the body of the very passenger whose life could have been saved and remember that unhappy face in the coffin. Then he or she would hear the tearful eulogies of a life cut tragically short. Above all, the driver should witness the burial accompanied by the sound of sobbing from the passenger’s mother now faced with the unbearable task of burying her daughter. Then the driver would think twice during the next life-threatening emergency, provided he or she is still employed, if he or she isn’t already shaken to the very fiber of their being. Come to think of it, perhaps some of Palm Tran’s administration should join the driver in witnessing the funeral. Then some serious changes would be set into motion to prevent another tragic accident.

As I said earlier, I don’t know how this aftermath is going to play out. It’s hard to see this as being beneficial to Palm Tran nor a good source of publicity. I think they need to seriously evaluate the drivers’ roles during the transport of the passengers, including pickup and dropoff. Most of Palm Tran’s passengers need mobility assistance, and although my sister-in-law didn’t require such assistance, she definitely could have used some help with the bags and perhaps a word of caution about going down the steps of the bus backwards. Had such assistance were provided, a tragic accident would have been prevented and my sister-in-law would still be with us. Instead, she was taken from us too soon and leaves my family to grieve an easy preventable death.

A Eulogy for Carolyn.

Dear Carolyn,

We’re writing to let you know that without you it’s not the same. You will always be the older sister even though you aren’t here. You are the best big sister we know! We will always remember your smiling face and you will be in our hearts forever. You were always there for us and we want you to know that you always brought joy wherever you went. You are the brightest star looking down on us forever. We will do our best to keep up with you. You are loved and missed by all. We love you. The room would light up every time you walked in it. We will always remember all the fun songs you sang when we went to karaoke together. Whenever anyone was having a bad day you had a way of turning it around with your bubbly personality and smiles. There was never a sad face whenever you were around. You were always the first person to help whenever it was needed.

You taught us that we didn’t need all the money in the world or have everything there was to have just to be happy. Here we are in a society that requires us to take ourselves so seriously that it would seem foolish to show our show our carefree and childlike side. But you Carolyn weren’t afraid to show your childlike side and that would be why you had such a talent for making everyone around you so happy. And of course, thank you for showing us that there’s nothing wrong about being a cat lady. You had such a love for animals that it was difficult imagining you without a cat nearby. Or maybe two.

And I will never forget the first time you and I met. I was picking you up at your house and after you got in my car, you told me you noticed how much happier your sister Renee was since she started dating me, the sister who would one day become my wife. And that’s when I knew I would become a welcome addition to the family.

When the three of us were in Orlando and spent time in Downtown Disney, it was the most fun day we had with you. The bowling pin mugs we got from Splitsville were amazing. We got some great pictures from that day. Everyone at Walmart loved you and will miss you. It’s good to know that Heidi, Sylvia and Brandon were there throughout everything that was going on. All the prayers that you sent for me all came back for you and they kept on coming for you. Now you are at peace. Daddy is waiting for you and so are Stubby and Shadow, your beloved cats.

We all love you.

Rest in peace.

Love,

Renee and Michael

In loving memory of my big sister Carolyn (1967 – 2021)

Thoughts of my second bereavement.

For the second time in two months there has been another death in my family. This comes at a time when I’ve barely begun recovering from my father’s passing two months ago, and now I have to start my grieving process all over again.

This time I grieve for my sister-in-law, who was more of a big sister to me. She succumbed to her injuries following a fall, so her passing was sudden and unexpected. Just last month she attended my father’s funeral, and now she’s gone herself.

Twice I prayed for miracles for my father and my big sister during their time of need and twice I was denied my wishes to keep them both in my life a little longer. My father, I can understand, his health had steadily declined over the years and his body could no longer fight the illnesses that plagued him throughout his final years. But my big sister? She was healthy and her demise unexpected. Now that hurts.

I was browsing online for prayers of healing and found one that sounded assuring, although it mentions that not everyone gets healed through these prayers. It does ask for no hard feelings towards the Lord in case the healing doesn’t take place. No hard feelings, that’s a bit hard for me to do right now, considering I have lost two beloved family members who meant so much to me.

Every now and then I am reminded that God has a plan for everyone, even if it’s not in perfect alignment with our best wishes. He decided it was time to call my father home, which I’m beginning to understand. But I have yet to understand why He summoned my big sister so soon. It wasn’t her time yet. She was only in her 50’s, which is still fairly young. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, but I’m looking forward to having this explained. Maybe then my feelings won’t be so hard.

The hardest goodbye of all.

For the second time in two months there will be another death in my family. No amount of preparation can truly render me ready for when that time comes, but it is coming. It is never a pleasant time.

Last month my sister-in-law suffered a severe head injury after a fall and despite the best efforts of the medical personnel involved, her condition has deteriorated to the point where the chances of her survival are zero, barring a last-minute miracle. I’d still like that miracle to happen, but the extent of her brain damage won’t leave us with the cheerful, bubbly personality that was once her. She is already gone. Breathing, still alive, but already gone.

This is the part where I’m confused. Oh yes, I prayed for her to wake up out of her medically induced coma and begin her recovery, but the opposite happened. Instead of getting better, she got worse, the same result of my prayers for my father. Instead of him getting better, he was taken from us. Oh yeah, I forgot. God’s plan isn’t always consistent with our wishes. He knows what He’s doing but as usual isn’t telling us exactly why it’s necessary for things to turn out like this. Who am I to question, let alone challenge, such authority and who knows what will happen when I dare launch such a challenge.

Last week my family paid my sister-in-law a visit at the hospice care facility to say our goodbyes. Sure, she opened her eyes when her mother started talking to her but she said nothing back, not even registering a smile. Hers was a blank, vacant expression completely void of emotion, completely empty of the cheerful, bubbly personality that was once her. Still, we talked to her, thanking her for a lifetime of memories while assuring her that her late father and all the dogs and cats that the family once had were waiting for her. It sounds like a very pleasant afterlife for sure.

Even as she continues fighting for her life, the family has begun preparations for the funeral and then for a new life without her, which will be a a very difficult one. I cannot begin to imagine the mother’s pain of losing one of her children. Your children are supposed to outlive you, not the other way around.

In any case, I’ve started on the eulogy I will deliver at the funeral, my second one in two months and already one eulogy too many.

What a way to end the year.

UPDATE: Hours after I wrote this post, my sister-in-law passed away. She was 54.

Morbid Spanish.

Time for my daily Spanish lesson. Not that I want to but it’s the way the app reminds me by flashing my phone’s flashlight and making a loud buzzing noise that doesn’t quit until I launch the Spanish lesson app.

Here we go.

Ver a la abuela.

See Grandma. That’s an easy one.

Ver al abuelo.

See Grandpa.

Ver a la abuela levantar el hacha.

See Grandma pick up the axe.

Ver a la abuela cortarle la cabeza al abuelo con el hacha.

See Grandma chop off Grandpa’s head with the axe? What kind of Spanish lesson is this?

Ver al abuelo sin cabeza perseguir a los niños por la calle.

See the headless Grandpa chase the kids down the street? I don’t think I want to finish this.

Vea a los niños jugar al fútbol con la cabeza del abuelo.

See the kids play soccer with Grandpa’s head. I am seriously giving thought to quitting this app and uninstalling it. Heck, I might just quit learning Spanish altogether, not with these stories the way they are. And I thought yesterday’s story about the vampire shopping for garlic was strange. I try closing the app but the story continues.

Vea a los niños beber ponche de frutas con la abuela y el abuelo.

See the kids drink fruit punch with Grandma and Grandpa. That’s more like it. But I thought Grandpa was headless.

Excepto que no es ponche de frutas.

Except it’s not fruit punch?

Vea a los niños convertirse en vampiros y volar hacia la noche.

See the kids turn into vampires and fly into the night. How nice.

Finally, the lesson is over. But that doesn’t mean the end to this strange Spanish lesson. No, that means it’s time for the end-of-story questions. Time to get this over with and get my 50 gems for the day to keep my learning on track. And why does it feel like someone’s watching me?

1. How many vampire kids are watching you right now?

So that’s the strange feeling I got. I turned around and saw a whole group of beady red eyes staring at me from outside the window. No use getting scared here, I have a Spanish lesson to finish.

Uno, dos, tres…

A Eulogy for my Father.

This is the eulogy I delivered at my late father’s memorial service on October 5, 2021.

I have to be clear up front, writing this eulogy is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. How do I condense 79 years of a well-lived life down to a mere 5 minute speech? I could very well go on for hours and not even finish until early tomorrow morning, which would be quite a feat, even for me, and one that would break the rules at funeral homes all over the world.

My father was more than just a father, he was my coach, my mentor, my guiding light and the occasional source of pain on my rear end. It is difficult to narrow down who he was down to a single role, but I think his defining role in my life was that of a teacher. There were lessons in everything he did, so many lessons in fact that to this day I’m still absorbing what he taught me.

Thanks to my father, I have been to places I never thought I’d see and have done things I thought I’d never do. We went on vacations to Canada, the Bahamas and to some of the most scenic spots in the United States. He gave me my first dose of scuba diving and snorkeling, leaving me craving for more and carrying out that passion to this very day. He gave me a love of boating and the thrill of taking part in the beer can race aboard his M20 scow with the spinnaker sending us flying across the water if we didn’t tip over first. I didn’t know it then but I think my father was trying to show me small ways to live life to the fullest and to make the most of our time on this earth. There’s a big world out there with places to see and plenty to do, and my father did his best to show me these better parts of the world and get me excited about discovering more of it on my own.

One year when we went to SeaWorld, we were at the dolphin show when my father said to me, “I’m trying to light the fire under your ass.” That was a true motivational speech if there ever was one. I’m still grateful he didn’t mean it literally. But I’ve since learned the art of setting goals and getting myself motivated towards achieving them, no matter how big or small they were. And it was sure nice to have my father there encouraging me every step of the way.

There are so many other lessons my father taught me. Try to be better today than you were yesterday. Always be optimistic even when there’s nothing to be optimistic about. Having a sense of humor is a must. Become present with the moment during times of stress. But the most valuable lesson my father taught me was during some of the darkest hours of my life. I was out of work and feeling very discouraged. That’s when he introduced me to the Latin phrase, and pardon my Latin, “Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit”, meaning “Perhaps someday we will look back upon these things with joy”. He was right. As bad as things seemed at the time, they certainly don’t seem so bad now. Now I even see those dark days as time well spent.

Perhaps we can apply that same phrase to his life. Yes, we’re all sad of his passing, but at the same time, he leaves us to admire a legacy of an amazing life truly lived to the fullest, a life of the usual ups and downs, but with the downs replaced with joy and optimism along with humor to lighten things up. That was the approach my father took when he faced some of the more serious challenges later in life and while he may not have overcome them completely, he at least put up one hell of a fight that teaches yet another lesson in courage and persistence.

So during this time of our grief, let’s take the time to remember the joyful life my father shared and the lessons he taught to make better people of those who knew and loved him. May we forever recall his essence with smiles on our faces long after our tears have dried. Thank you.

Remembering my father.

On Sunday, September 26, my father passed away after years of declining health. Since then I have been numb with sorrow, my appetite gone and my anxiety and stress at unbearable levels. This week is going to be the hardest one of my life as I prepare to move on without my father beside me and cheering me on, whatever my ambition may be.

Tomorrow I will be delivering a eulogy at his funeral service so what better way to collect my thoughts than doing a blog post from the heart as I dig through years of memories of my father. Writing the eulogy was very difficult for me. Delivering it will be even harder.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my father is his quirky sense of humor. He loved to make people laugh, friends and strangers alike. He had a real talent for walking up to total strangers at the store and chatting with them as if they were lifelong friends. I swear, if he hadn’t worked as an engineer, he would have made one heck of a comedian. I remember one year we were in Chicago at my grandmother’s wake service when my father leaned over to me and said, “You know what I’d like people to hear people say at a funeral? ‘Look, he’s moving!'” He admitted then it was a bad joke but it did much to lighten the mood. That’s what kind of person he was.

And how could I forget his love of boats. I think his tenure with the Merchant Marines ignited that passion. After my father got married and moved to Connecticut to start a new life with his new family, he took up sailing on his trusty Hobie Cat sailboat. After we moved to Florida he bought a power boat he named Second Wind. On Sundays he would take the family out on the boat where we would have a picnic on one of the nearby islands and put in plenty of swimming. One year we went on vacation in the Florida Keys and took the boat from Juno Beach all the way to Key Largo. What a memorable trip that was.

Not long before he retired he bought himself an M-20 Scow, a very fine racing sailboat. We would spend our Saturdays racing other sailboats in Stuart during the weekly beer can race. When the wind caught our sails just right, no one could catch us. I learned so much about sailing from my father and always looked forward to going sailing with him.

Thanks to my father, I got to see some of the most scenic places in the United States and Canada. He would plan family vacations that would later fill pages of photo albums and dominate conversations at the dinner table for years to come. Even towards the end my father was talking about making a return trip to Montreal, one of our favorite places to visit. He really had a desire to see as much of the world as possible, and I hope to continue that desire myself.

I could go on and on about how my father enriched my life with his wisdom and humor. He could be difficult at times, but lessons aplenty were learned albeit the hard way. Towards the end my relationship with him improved to the point where I consider ourselves parted on good terms.

And now here I sit, one week after his passing and the reality still sinking in. It’s never easy losing someone so close to you but I know that someone, somehow my father continues to watch over me and cheer me on. After all, his work shall never be done.

In loving memory of my father Withold John Brazinskas (June 7, 1942 – September 26, 2021)

Bob Schott’s final column.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the final column submitted by controversial author and radio host Bob Schott. He requested that we use no disclaimer about his views but we decided otherwise.

None of the events described in this column have ever taken place. They are the results of Schott’s hallucinations that he claims are prophecies of the future. We reprint the unedited column here, with some very mixed feelings about it.

RIP Tequesta

This past week I have witnessed the death of my beautiful hometown of Tequesta. It didn’t have to end this way of course, but the apathy of the people indicated they all wanted this to happen. I can only wish they’re happy with the way things are now.

Laugh at me if you want, but I actually had visions of Tequesta’s demise over 25 years ago. That’s when I started my mission to warn everyone about what was to happen. I used my radio show, my books and my lectures to spread awareness about the approaching doom but everyone just laughed it off.

Well, guess what. The chain of events fully consistent with my visions were set into motion. First, a lone criminal known only as Mike arrived in town intent on causing as much damage as possible. Windows were shattered, car tires were popped and our beloved Tequesta Park became lined with underground landmines. But the worst was just beginning.

Next, gangs, prostitutes, drug dealers and weapons manufacturers arrived in town and slowly transformed Tequesta into a crime haven. Thanks to the crooked vision of Terrence Dougart, one of the most corrupt mayors to ever walk the earth, Tequesta became a favorite destination for criminals, murderers and fugitives, who enjoyed a preferred status and immunity from arrest and prosecution.

Then things went from bad to worse when all the street gangs merged into one powerful and deadly supergang known as Los Boletos, who unleashed a campaign of violence and terror that single handedly crippled Tequesta. Entire streets were blown up, railroad tracks were decimated, and even the stretch of U.S. Highway 1 that ran through Tequesta was vanquished. Worse, bridges leading to Tequesta were demolished, including nearby drawbridges and most tragically of all, the famed Jupiter Lighthouse. And of course, a bomb was dropped on Tequesta Park, blowing up hundreds of land mines simultaneously and leaving behind a huge crater that is beyond terrifying just to see. Tequesta was reduced to a shambles in a matter of days, leaving behind a town forever in ruins.

Now Los Boletos are in the process of establishing a new town called Maleta where Tequesta once stood. They are forming a new government with Mike as the new mayor. Yes, all the roads and bridges will be rebuilt but a regime of terror promises to follow suit. Prepare yourself for sky high taxes and strict regulations to restrict your rights and freedoms. Crime will be the norm, politics will be as crooked as ever and you will be powerless to stop it. You had 25 years to prevent all this from happening but apparently you thought it was all a joke. Well guess what. Los Boletos now has the last laugh.

I am under orders to surrender to the government of Maleta, who now see me as a traitor. I don’t know what will happen to me once I am in their custody but apparently it’s of no concern to you. I’d like to be remembered as a martyr who tried to take a stand for liberty, justice and freedom in the face of evil, but given your apathy over the years, you were set to forget me years ago.

Have a nice life in Maleta.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After submitting this column, Bob Schott reportedly walked out of his house and has not been seen again. A search for him is ongoing.

Riding your breath.

I recently had an interesting dream in which I sat on a bench-like seat that rose to take me to an overhead video screen where I watched a short movie. I don’t remember too much about this part of the dream but I do remember what happened next.

At the end of the movie, I heard a voice say, “Here’s how you’re breathing right now.” All of a sudden the seats were either going up or down, depending on our breathing. My seat would ascend when I inhaled and descend when I exhaled. I remember exaggerating my breathing to give myself a little bit of a bumpy thrill ride.

Since having that dream I’ve been paying more attention to my breathing as far as bringing myself into the moment of mindfulness. Often I think of how that ride feels with respect to my breathing. Am I going up and down smoothly or is it a bumpy ride? I imagine my ride is mostly bumpy with my shallow, panicked breathing during my anxious moments.

How interesting that our dreams can sometimes teach us such valuable lessons to use during our conscious hours.