After years of searching for her birth parents, Lonnie Hull DuPont found both her biological father and her biological mother. She was eventually reunited with her birth father, but after numerous letters to her birth mother went unanswered, Lonnie gave up hope that they would ever meet. Lonnie later left her home state of Michigan, where she knew her birth mother still lived, for some 15 years.
Several years ago, she and her husband moved back to Michigan and bought an old farmhouse near the area where she was born. Unbeknownst to her, Elaine, her birth mother, lived in an assisted living facility in the same county, and her health was failing. Elaine's friends tried for weeks to locate Lonnie, but by the time they found her, Elaine had died just three days earlier.
A memorial service for Elaine was scheduled for several weeks later, and in the meantime, Lonnie got to know Elaine's friends and found out that she and her birth mother had a great deal in common. But one thing they did not share was a love of the color purple. It was Elaine's favorite color, but not Lonnie's. Far from it, in fact; Lonnie only liked purple that appeared in nature, and that's where she felt it should stay.
All this took place during Lonnie's first spring in the farmhouse. On the day of the memorial service, Lonnie awakened to a sight that astonished her: their acre of lawn was carpeted with purple violets. She wanted to believe they were a sign from her mother, sent to comfort her on that day. And it turned out that they very well may have been; in subsequent years, not one violet ever appeared on that lawn again. As one spring after another went by without her seeing a single violet, Lonnie found it easier to believe that the violets were indeed a message from her mother on the day of her memorial service.
Lonnie's story is one of dozens of contributors' stories describing unexplainable incidents that surround the death of a loved one. While stories of supposedly miraculous events in everyday life may arouse a fair dose of skepticism, those stories that relate to death and the afterlife are so prevalent and often ring so true that skeptics are becoming harder to find. Even people who have no personal connection with someone who has died, such as hospital personnel or hospice workers, frequently attest to the unusual, and some would say supernatural, occurrences that accompany death.
A big yellow cat that mysteriously appears at the perfect time and just as mysteriously disappears at the right time. Bright copper pennies that offer a measure of consolation following an indescribable tragedy. Apple-tree shoots poking through the ground that serve as a reminder of a grandfather's love. Sometimes it seems that God uses the most mundane elements to offer deep and profound comfort to those left behind when a loved one dies.
If the skeptics still insist on proof, however, they need look no further than the foreword to COMFORT FROM BEYOND. It's written by Don Piper, author of the New York Times bestseller 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN, who was killed in a car crash in 1989 --- and returned to life to tell about it. Piper has no problem believing the accounts in this compilation. And he, of all people, should know if they resonate with the ring of truth.
Reviewed by Marcia Ford on October 1, 2008