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May 22, 2018

Omens… Signs… I tend to write a lot about these things, it seems. In fact, there’s a story titled “Omens” in the “Bingo Ray” collection, and though the narrator’s reliance on interpreting occasional cosmic revelations dwarfs mine, I do share his tendency to a degree. I will often follow an unexpected path if some sign from the universe appears to advise me to do so.

The reason I’m writing about this now is due to something that happened two nights ago. I was at the local VFW in Oak Bluffs, Ma, after a shortened night at my new job. I was sipping on a glass of wine, waiting for the NBA basketball playoff game to begin. With some time to spare, I casually acted on an impulse to bring my iPhone close to my ear and listen to the new song “Rise” I had written and recorded just the month before.

Now I’ll admit - half of me has expected some sign from my recently-departed friend Patti Rooney to appear in the days after the song was finished. Some little indication from worlds away that she appreciated what I had done, some rainbow or fluttering bird appearing from out of the blue that expressed a recognition, a thank-you, or even a comforting indication that things are now well on her end. I had already, after all, seen first-hand how my friend Jim Tierney, blessed with some unexplained gift, had foreseen where her body was resting long before it was ever found, and he is convinced that she is now in a much better place and had found a way, as my song urged, to “Rise”. But in the days and weeks that followed, I can honestly say I didn’t receive anything I could even creatively say was a message. I was happy to hear how her mother appeared to, and the weather for her funeral was unexpectedly beautiful, but personal omens and signs to me were not forthcoming.

And of course, I knew there was no reason to really expect any; I wasn’t by any means the most important friend in her life.

Well, anyway - I listened to the song for the first time in a while, with the volume just high enough that I could hear everything without an earphone but those around me would hear nothing at all. And I found myself liking the song. I found myself glad that I dared to record it. And for a couple of moments I listened to the final chord as it began to fade away.

And then suddenly a man who had been sitting at the nearby bar placed a plastic cup on my round table. “This is your lucky day,” he declared, happily. “I just won $450 at the Keno lottery and so I’m buying everyone at the bar their next round!”

I happened to be drinking white wine, not beer. White wine, which was Patti’s drink. A glass of which she would likely have thrown my way as a surprise had she been sitting close by, laughing that laugh of hers, happily interpreting my reaction.

It took a few moments for me to formulate the significance. Did Patti Rooney just send me a sign from above, in the form of a complimentary glass of wine? True - the lottery winner benefited more from her generosity than I did, but still - was this possible?

It’s admittedly a stretch, even right now, to think so. But when it comes to omens and signs, we are free to interpret events in any way we see fit. And so, well - I choose to believe this was a positive signal from a departed friend, with the perfect amount of humor and randomness that make these things head-scratchingly perfect.

“Rise” can be found on the “Basement” section of the Songs page. Please feel free to listen to it if you ever have the chance.

Thanks for the glass of wine, Patti. I owe you the next one.


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