Does The Universe Send Us “Winks”?

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 2.14.44 PMWhen I was thirteen, I returned home one night from a record hop to discover there had been a power failure throughout our neighborhood.

My whole house was pitch black…except for my dad’s study, where he normally loved to sit and chart the ups and downs of our world’s commodities – slowly by hand – into a large chart book.

This was in the 1970’s – a time long before computers, when financial advisors were called “stock brokers,” and they tracked their trades with handwritten charts.

I was curious about how and why this one room in our house was illuminated. I stood on my tippy toes and peered into the window of my dad’s office. There my dad sat, his commodities chart book sprawled open on his desk- and dozens of lit Hanukah candles were lined up in a circle around his work, his body poised in hypnotic concentration.

The scene looked at first like a spiritual ritual – as if my father were praying to the gods of porkbellies, lumber and corn.

I chuckled – but I was not surprised to see my dad had figured out a candle-lit way to stay hard at work, even in the midst of a neighborhood power failure. My dad often labored into the lateness of night. It made sense to me that even in the middle of a power outage, my father’s unremitting passion for his work could not be dimmed an iota.

I confess I inherited my dad’s passion for work – although I chose a very different career for myself. I now often set my alarm to go off at 5am so I can sit in the silence of our home and work on a new book or new online webinar.

does the universe send us winksI didn’t start out doing what I loved for a living. I began my career in advertising – winning a CLIO my first 6 months in the business – then rising up to Senior VP in my late twenties. But I wasn’t happy with my job choice. I didn’t want to write ads which inspired people to buy a new, improved toothpaste. I wanted to write books which inspired people to think and act in new, improved ways.

And so in my late twenties I quit advertising to be an author. I thank my dad for teaching me to prioritize the size of my career passions over the size of my career paycheck.

Thanks to my dad I grew up believing that you need to love what you do for a living – and now I’m sharing this core belief with my son.

I wish I could introduce my son to my father – but my father’s been gone for a long time now. He passed away at 77 – when I was in my forties.

Although my dad was actually gone before my dad was gone.

My father sadly (make that tragically) endured a devastating memory problem for over a decade.

It was noticed slowly – in stages.

My dad forgot where he put the car keys.

My dad forgot where he parked the car.

My dad forgot which car he presently owned.

My dad forgot where he was going while driving the car.

And then my dad’s driver’s liscence was taken away – with a doctor explaining why: Alzheimer’s.

Soon after there was a secondary diagnosis: Leukemia.

does the universe send us winksAt first all this was very hard to believe – until my father began losing inordinate amounts of weight. It seemed that my dad had lost his appetite along with his memory. Whereas my father used to resemble Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront, he was now starting to look more and more like Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond.

He was brought to Lenox Hill Hospital for a round of tests – and told he needed to stay – for a while.

When I last saw my father, I was not a mom yet. I did have a boyfriend at the time, who my father smiled at a lot – but I was never sure if my dad remembered who my boyfriend was.

I remember once my boyfriend and I visited my dad in the hospital. My dad sat up in bed, seemingly alert, but looking strangely tiny.

Each time I’d visit my dad he looked smaller and smaller. The incredibly shrinking father.

My dad was never much of a talker, but in the last six months before the end of his life, he’d become practically mute. And whenever he did talk, his voice was a soft, raspy whisper.

“Hi dad,” I greeted him one day at the hospital – trying to sound cheery. “I’m back – visiting you with Greg again.” I motioned to my boyfriend – hoping to prompt my dad’s memory.

“Where am I?” my dad whispered, looking around the hospital room. “Which hotel?”

“You’re in the hospital,” I corrected him.

“When can I go home to Hilgrove Lane?“ he asked.

This was the address of our childhood home.

“Dad, you and mom moved out of that house a few years ago,” I corrected him.

“I loved that home,” my dad said. “It has so many happy memories – of when you were a kid.” He smiled at me – then looked at my boyfriend. “Karen was such a sweet, good little girl,” my dad told him.

does the universe send us winksI smiled. I loved that although my father had been stripped of his memory, he had not been stripped of his essence. My father was the epitome of kindness. Always. Throughout my childhood, my father rarely lost his temper. He was always patient and empathic and generous of heart. Later at his funeral this was the repeated refrain in all of the eulogies given.

The nurses at the hospital who only knew my father in this diluted form also shared with me the strength of my father’s kindness. Each and every nurse commented consistently about what a sweet man my father was.

And he was.

My father loved books on positive thinking. He shared with me his philosophies on positivity from the books he read. When my dad passed away, my mom gave me one of his books called, “The Magic of Believing.” This book was written in 1948 – and was a version of “The Secret” – but ahead of its time.

When I cracked open the book, I saw there were many underlinings and notes my dad had made. The underlinings and notes made me cry – because I realized this was a way my dad could continue to speak to me…after he was gone. It was his way of saying, “Look at this paragraph, Karen – oh and – here’s a sentence I want you to keep in mind.”

I will give the book (with its talkative underlinings) to my son when he is old enough to read and understand it – and this book will be a way for my dad to communicate to my son – and my son to get to know his grandpop.

Weird fact: My son was born on August 27 2010 – the exact day my dad passed – away just three years before.

Since 2010 from now on August 27th marks both the day of my dad’s passing – and the day of my son’s arrival.

I sometimes wonder: Was my son’s August 27th arrival a “wink” from my dad.

does the universe send us winksI’m not very “woo woo” about things like spirits visiting us. I’m more of a single woo. I’m open to believing that this is possible – but still not fully convinced.

But I’m writing this essay today because I recently received another wink from the universe.

I was walking down the street with my son – and saw an older man – in his seventies – who looked like my dad. My heart stopped for a moment –because the similarities were so strong.

This older gentleman made eye contact with me – then looked at my son and smiled. “What a sweet and handsome son you have,” he said.

“Um, thanks,” I said – happy for the opportunity to stare at this man further. It was uncanny the resemblance he shared with my dad.

As mentioned, I’m not “woo woo” about things like spirits visiting us. I’m more of a single woo. But I gotta say, I felt strangely moved by this brief encounter –like it was a wink from my dad.

And so I am writing this essay today – as a tribute to my dad- and as a wink right back.

I know my son would have loved his grandfather – if he had met him.

And I know you all would have loved him too.

Xo Karen

Written by Karen Salmansohn (Founder)

Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.
  • Cee Sss

    I wish I had a story to tell of my father from a childhood memory I could recall with fondness. My memories are of being an adult and my dads caretaker in last years alive. Those years where gifted to a son that faced a challenge that few would embrace. I honored my father and it hurts that he’s no longer here. We get winks, nods and gentle nudges from somewhere, you just have to be open. Loved your story, despite the sadness I feel today, it made me smile. Thank You

  • Cheryl Moran

    Oh I so believe in signs. After my dad passed every time I would go to the cemetery a hawk would appear and fly over several times then fly away. Could be coincidence or not

    • Nanette Sulik

      I have a close friend who’s dad loved birds, esp. hawks. During periods of transition she will see hawks fly down and alongside her car as she is driving, then take off again. His little reminder that he is still looking out for her.

  • Just Wondering

    Life is kind of like an airport, some coming in and some going out and the separation can be so damn hard (August 27 must be a busy travel day bc it is also my daughter’s arrival date). However, just know that love never dies and that is what makes for “winks”. In the meantime know that every time you think of your departed loved one they are with you. My parents and grandparents come to me in dreams and I always feel so blessed afterward. Thanks for sharing this story Karen!

  • Kim Young

    I also believe in signs from beyond the grave…I believe that if you are open to receiving messages, you will receive them. My father (who has been dead for many years) still sends me messages that he is watching out for me. I have too many stories to tell of these “coincidences”, but if I do want to communicate with him, I just ask for a sign and a cardinal will show up (in one form or another)…never fails… 🙂

  • Jen Schwind

    I truly believe in the spirit world as I have been privileged to receive many messages from beyond. One such event happened to me recently. I was struggling with the decision to let a very special dog in my life transition to the other side and simultaneously I received an unrelated (or so I thought) message from my ex who passed away 3 years ago. Until I finally let Zeus (the dog) go, the message left. I came to realize shortly thereafter that my ex (who gave me the dog for Christmas 11 years ago) was letting me know that he (the dog) will be okay – she will the care of him for me until I meet him again! It was a truly powerful confirmation to me that if we are open to it, we can receive such messages.
    Your story was beautiful, Karen. Your Dad must’ve loved you dearly. Thanks for sharing it.

  • ClareSeche

    I definitely believe in signs. My late sister started sending pennies from heaven shortly after she died. More recently, my Mom passed away 3 months ago. She had been in ill health for the past few years, which I think coincided with my sister’s death. We got word a week before Christmas that she was Stage 4 cancer. I visited every Christmas since my sister was killed on Christmas Eve in 2011.
    I got the call in January that she was near the end, so I rushed to go see her. She lived two states away. I was there at her bedside, and 10 minutes later she was gone. I totally believe she waited for me to arrive.
    The gift I received from her was time with her after my sister was gone. We had never been close, but we formed a great bond and I’m still having trouble getting through a day without crying at least once.
    Thank you Karen for your beautiful post.

  • Amy Holzgrafe

    I love your words “not very woo-woo…more like a single woo”. That is me. I lost my father to Alzheimer’s four years ago. My “woo” is continually finding coins on the ground. Literally pennies from heaven I think. I collect them all and donate the money to my local Foodbank. Not much some might say but my father sent me over $100 last year!

  • Kristen Ross

    Hi Karen, thanks for sharing your personal story, it brought me to tears! I have a very similar story, and I have had quite a few “winks” from my dad (now I have a great word for them, thank you ;))

    I’m certain your dad is so proud of you!

    With love, Kristen

  • Anna Maria Jorgensen

    I lost my mom six months ago to cancer. She was “my person.” I’m sad for you that your son won’t know his grandpa, but hopefully those underlined passages will *wink* at him from time to time. I’m happy for you that you have loving memories of your dad. Sending love and hugs and positive vibes. 🙂

  • Sandy F. Richardson

    Beautiful essay, Karen. And yes, I have had the “woo,” the woo-woo,” and also the “woo-woo-woo” experiences, so I do believe.

  • Katie Shrum

    Thank you for sharing the winks your dad has given you over the years since he passed. I’m a firm believer in winks from our loved ones from the other side. I visited the church where I was married many years after my father passed, and sat by the beautiful outdoor fountain that had been built on the church grounds after my wedding. My dad had told me shortly after my wedding that it was one of his proudest moments. I spoke to him at the fountain that day about a difficult time I was having in my life. I not only felt the deep comfort of his presence there, but when I walked away from the fountain, and passed the church, I caught the distinct and familiar whiff of sweet cigar smoke. He loved his cigars! I looked around for the cigar smoker, and even walked around the church. There was no one there but me… and him. 😉 ❤️

  • Andrew Scott

    This is a touching and wonderful post. I find it amusing that you say, “I’m not very “woo woo” about things like spirits visiting us. I’m more
    of a single woo. I’m open to believing that this is possible – but still
    not fully convinced.”
    It is so obvious to me that you chose to be one dedicated to teaching others to find happiness before you incarnated. I can understand your skepticism about the fact that the one who was your father in this life is still around and able to communicate with you but the reality is that the scientific evidence for reincarnation is actually quite overwhelming. To say I “believe” in reincarnation is on a par with saying I believe in climate change. It’s not really a matter of belief so much as it is a matter of accepting the overwhelming predominance of evidence for this. It is summarized along with the latest quantum physics that supports the idea in “Physics of the Soul” by Amit Goswami. PhD.
    He doesn’t cover all the evidence in detail but he does a good job of summarizing it. You obviously don’t know about this but you plan out the general outlines of your life before incarnating and you are doing what you intended to do and doing it very well.

  • Nora Casey

    I absolutely love your story and i’m a firm believer of life after death. I get visits from the other side on a regular basis, in a form of heads up, something is up be prepared etc… so i’m always prepared before anything happens & i’ll tell my loved ones that, so and so came for a visit to let me know a loved one will be crossing over. I’m never caught by surprised, thanks to my loved ones from the other side.

  • Kelly Willard-Gappmayer

    I absolutely agree, we do receive messages. The first time I realized this was after my divorce, I was having a particularly hard day and decided to take a walk through the farmers market in the park during lunch. I walked past a booth selling mushrooms and noticed they had a large amount of the type of mushroom my dad and I used to pick when I was little. It brought a smile to my face. I continued to walk and suddenly I could smell the unmistakable scent of peonies. We had two large peonie plants in our yard growing up. It instantly made me think of my dad. The third sign was a bouquet of purple irises which grew all over our yard as well. I just sat down and felt this was too much of a coincidence. I felt like my dad was telling me everything would be ok. This was the first of many signs I’ve received from him since his death in 1992. Just recently, I lost my best friend unexpectedly and it devastated me. She too has sent a message. In fact, just last night. I was sitting at home thinking about her, missing her, and decided to read a book. I picked up a book flipped through the pages to the bookmark, and out fell the card they handed out at her service. I had forgotten I had put it in there. I opened the card and read it for the first time. I hadn’t read it before because I assumed it was the same story of her life that was posted by her family in her obit. For the most part, it was, until the end, where it listed the people she left behind, her family members and good friends, where my name was listed with 3 others. So unexpected i just had to smile. These messages don’t happen often, but they do seem to happen when I need them most.

  • Karen, this was so beautiful. I really love this essay and your sharing such details about your dad and his “winks”. I am a firm believer in the winks, and have experienced many. I like that another commentor shared that August 27 must be a busy day in heaven, people flying in and out of this life. My best friend Susan, who passed away 22 years ago, when we were 30, shares that birthday with your son. I have received lots of winks from her over the years (she of the pink dress I coveted at age 14!). My dad is also a big winker, now being in Heaven for over 11 years. He shows up as butterflies and cardinals- his favorites. And after his death, I once when I wore his broken wristwatch to a John Edward event (the Crossing Over guy). During the show, my dad’s watch kept time the ENTIRE TIME- and stopped right at the end! My dad was funny like that. He loved a fun joke. And my husband’s mom, who passed away before we got married, showed up as his fav bird when he proposed to me, which felt like a great blessing of love to us. And my friend Jimmie, who died on the soccer field, winked at me for a month after his death, helping ease my grief whenever I saw soccer ball decals the suddenly appeared all over the cars I saw. Many many winks from heaven.
    Glad your dad is winking at you and your sweet son. xoxoxo

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  • What a wonderful post this is!! We’re definitely being watched over by our loved ones that have passed. Every time I’m at a major crossroads in my life or if I’m facing a hurdle that looks insurmountable, I catch the scent of my mother’s skin. She had always had a sweet almond/cherry smell laced with baby powder. Very comforting. I also catch whiffs of my grandfather’s favorite pipe tobacco. I love that they still check in! Winks indeed. Sharing an aside that we won’t fully understand until we greet them again!

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  • Anna Gospe

    Karen what a wonderful essay and memory. Your dad is always with you and something tells me that that man was ur dad. Bless you and your family

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