Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 10/10/2012

Messages from… beyond…

I’ve lost two brothers in the past couple of years, yet they are with me yet today, as I’d like to explain here, with your patience and willingness to read a little longer blog than usual.

The first to die was Bobby, pictured here, who froze to death. He had awaken in his bed at home sometime in the night, very disoriented in a diabetic sugar fugue, and he then drove to a rural bait shop closed for the winter season. He was desperate to buy a Coke in the vending machine, and so he did. Of course, he wasn’t supposed to have soda, and after he guzzled it down (he often had irresistible sugar cravings like that), he fainted. By the time he was found, hours later, he was covered in frost.

Our brother Kurt, who lived nearby, made the tough decision to have Bobby resuscitated at the hospital, despite doctors’ concern and warnings that he’d technically “been dead” for too long, and that likely, if “brought back” (they gave that 50/50 odds),  he’d have organ failures, strokes, etc.

When Kurt called me in a panic to report the situation, I immediately drove to Missouri from Wisconsin. The entire situation smacked of Pet Semetary, and we both worried aloud that death wouldn’t be cheated so easily by cutdowns and hospital interventions, but Bobby did survive. For awhile.

Bobby again died (and stayed dead) months later, after going through prolonged weeks of dialysis for kidney failure and after suffering through numerous hospitalizations for strokes and opportunistic infections like gangrene. By the time he died, he wanted to die, in other words, despite the fact he was still a relatively young man of 50.

But Bobby’s story isn’t so quickly concluded.

About a week before he exhaled his last breath, Bobby informed Kurt and me that he had been visited during the night by an unexpected trio — our mother, his father, and our grandmother. The visitation was especially hard to believe because (1) Mom had divorced his dad years ago; (2) they were all dead; and (3) Nana wouldn’t even have crossed the street with Bob’s dad when they both were alive. Now she was traveling with him?

Bob reported that during the visitation, the apparitions appeared to be on a joint and friendly mission. And, Bob insisted, they were even more “real” than Kurt and I seemed to be to him afterwards. They huddled at the foot of his hospital bed, whispering and conferring with one another, and then approached, one by one, to smile down at him. “I had to listen real hard,” he said, “because they talked funny. It sounded like them – I mean, I recognized them, but it was real fast-like. It was work for them to slow it down, and work for me to speed up my hearing, but eventually what each one of them kept repeating to me made sense to me.”

Nana told him not to be afraid. His father suggested, “Be careful, son, be careful.” And Mom said several times that she loved him. In fact, Bob said, he felt incredible love from all of them, and so he no longer feared death because he understood that they would be waiting to help him “across the river.”

Bob was the wanderer of the family; the nomad who finally settled on a piece of country road in a trailer, living a minimalistic, almost hermit existence with his cat. I still listen for his corny hillbilly jokes and raucous laughter with my heart. I miss him terribly.

A Brother/Sister pledge

Kurt, yin to Bobby’s yang, was the most social of we three. Kirbie, as he was nicknamed, turned his back on his 8-to-5 life and quit his job to become Bobby’s caregiver the last few months of Bobby’s life. Kurt was a Wiccan priest – a writer, a poet, and a generally mellow dude (thanks only in part to magic mushrooms and other home-prescribed assistance) — and a lover of women despite the fact that he had just painfully concluded a difficult marriage with two wives. He was going through “a bit of a rough spell”, and after Bobby died, he came to live with my family in Wisconsin for a short time to get back on his emotional and financial feet. After he returned to Missouri and rented an apartment in Columbia, our phone call frequency increased dramatically.

During one of those calls, we pledged that whoever died first would use any psychic powers possible to muster from “over there” to let the other one know we were still with them here – it was our little plot, inspired by Bobby.

We weren’t all weird in the family – I’d been a police chaplain for a few years before becoming the cop shop’s crisis interventionist, and Kurt’s lifestyle wasn’t mine — but no one in our family has ever been judgmental about lifestyle choices. Mom read Rune stones and my uncle says he occasionally sees dead people, and we’ve all had really, really strong psychic encounters, so what the heck. We pledged to give it our spirited best.

A pre-death pledge is great in theory but painful in practice. I was called early one morning this past March. Kurt had suffered a massive brain bleed for no apparent reason, and University Hospital in Columbia had just discovered this sister in Wisconsin (me) with medical durable power of attorney. The doctor called asking permission to terminate life support measures. The world shifted under my feet as I absorbed the shock of the news and then packed for the long drive back to the hospital where I’d last seen Bobby, where I would now sign off for Kurt’s kidney donation. There, I held  his hand while he was disconnected from his earthly tubes, and I remained with him as he rode a strong morphine pony out of this world and into the next.

Kirby keeps his promise

In April of this year, I signed on to attend a scientific conference on the Near Death Experience, hoping to better understand Bobby’s experience. But the night before the conference, I could not sleep at all. Restless and more than a little depressed, I went to Kurt’s Facebook Page, just to reach out in one more way – to reread his last witty posts and to post messages of comfort for his shocked friends who learned of the tragedy after reading messages posted there by other grieving friends. I noticed, then, a tab which said “notes” that I’d never seen before (I don’t have that section in my FB template). I opened that area, and found an incredibly moving message written just for me, months before he died or even could have known that he, at that time, was fulfilling his promise to leave a sign for me to prove he was still with me, even after his physical death.

I’m posting the note my brother left for me to find, exactly as he wrote and posted it,  in a special place on this site, under the tab “Kirbie’s love letter” so that if you would have trouble opening his FB page, you might be able to read it. He had “friended” me as his sister and I don’t know the public access permissions for Kirby MmKay, his screen name – maybe you can still find it there, maybe not, but if so, you’ll see that he posted it in the early morning of one day in August 2011.

I printed the message and framed it and it sits on a bookshelf next to the locket with a lock of his hair. And that’s all I need to know to move forward here with all of my happiest memories of Bobby and Kurt. I imagine my brothers both across the river now, waiting for their turn to whisper  in my ear (“Don’t be afraid. We love you. Be careful, sis. Be careful,”) when it’s my time to come home.


  1. This is an inspiration to me and I hope one day my son will contact me. My niece says she dreams of him nightly and he has appeared to her several times and it disturbs her. I told her to tell him to contact me and that I have talked to him repeatedly and not seen or heard anything back. I hope someday he will come to me. I have heard on the radio several songs that he used to sing in his band and they seem to have been sent from him, but it may be my imagination. Please keep up these posts as they are a great help to me and others I am sure.

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