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Witness: Susan Dancy
Location: Spring, Texas
Date of Encounter: 2002

My father was murdered on Halloween night in 1979 in New Caney, Texas. He opened the door, to what he must have thought were trick-or-treaters, and was shot to death. His body was found on the floor by the front door, with a bowl of candy spilled beside him. His murderer was never found.

My parents divorced when I was 2 years old and I did not meet my father until I was about 9 years old. They remarried and then divorced a few years later. During the time he lived in our home, I was afraid of my father. He was an artist and an alcoholic; brilliant but filled with rage; creative and a diagnosed schizophrenic; violent and often irrational. Tortured, no doubt, by his own demons, I felt only relief when he finally moved out of our house.

I did not see my father again until my mother's death in 1965 when he came to her funeral. After that, I saw him on holidays and we got along as polite strangers. Eventually, as I got older, I was able to enjoy his company. We went to foreign films together, prowled rare book stores together, and sometimes got high with my friends. 

When I had a child, he was a loving grandfather. He adored my daughter and showered her with affection and attention. Unfortunately, his illness caused him to behave in increasingly bizarre ways. I became afraid for my child and afraid for myself. I eventually felt forced to severe all ties to him. We had a terrible confrontation in 1976 and I never saw him again.

My feelings towards him remained angry and resentful, even after his death. I didn't attend his funeral. I wanted nothing more to do with him and told myself I was glad he was dead.

One night, about 2 years ago, I attended a séance at Tranquil Thymes in Old Town Spring led by psychic Pat Rickard. We were sitting in a circle after being led in a meditation by Pat. Quite suddenly, the room filled with the smell of linseed oil and turpentine. I knew those scents intimately. I had smelled them often in my father's studio. Pat jumped up to look for the source. She thought a bottle of cleaning liquid must have spilled somewhere.

I sat in the circle, stunned into silence. I knew my father was there. I could feel him standing behind me. I smelled his scent, part oil paint, part turpentine, part pipe tobacco. He was my father but he felt like another person. He was not the dark, rage-filled monster I remembered. He was calm and quiet, and just there. His whole being, his soul, was transformed. I felt it. For the first time in my life, I knew who my father should have been. Could have been. Was meant to be before the ravages of alcohol and mental illness coated him in darkness. I was overwhelmed by his presence and the very lightness of it. He walked in the Light. I was filled with gratitude and a sense of the divine.

Pat came back, still bustling around, looking for the spilled Pinesol or something. I gathered my senses enough to just whisper that nothing had spilled, it was my father. Chris Pennell was sitting directly across from me in the séance. He asked me if my father was bald, wore glasses, smoked a pipe, and had a goatee. I said he did. Chris said, "He's been standing behind you for awhile." If I had needed any validation, that was certainly it. But I didn't need it. I KNEW. I felt my dad. I felt his soul. And I felt my soul shift. I loved him at that moment and forgave him. It was so simple. I had spent many years off and on in therapy in an attempt to resolve various issues created by a disturbed, distant father. But in just a simple moment, those issues cleared, the wounds healed. My soul healed.

I don't really remember much more about that night. I do remember driving home, crying and grieving for my father but also feeling such joy. As I write this, he is here in the room with me again. Just a reminder that he is in the light but nearby if I need him. The way a dad should be.

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