Sometimes something happens that’s so strange it defies explanation, or perhaps leaves only one, hard-to-believe explanation. Debbie Findling shares her story.
Not long ago, my elderly father announced he didn’t believe in God. “When you’re dead, you’re dead,” he proclaimed. My brother, Daniel, teased: “Dad, if you’re wrong, after you die, send me a sign.”
My dad died last week. He was 88, a survivor of the Holocaust whose parent were murdered, he fled to the U.S. as a 10-year-old orphan.
Rather than becoming bitter, my dad turned his pain into unrelenting optimism. He carried his heavy past with lightness. My dad loved a good joke and taught us silly songs he had learned as a child in Europe. We sang the songs last week, at his funeral, at the grave site, and at the Shiva service.
Departing along the path from my dad’s home, we reminisced that he loved miniature wooden carved animals, but didn’t like the frog I had recently bought for his collection because it was made of metal rather than wood.
Just then, a frog jumped in our path. We encircled it.
“Jump if you’re Grandpa Ziggy,” my 14-year-old nephew asked. The frog jumped as my nephew ran squealing down the driveway. I could hear my dad’s laugh, which was more squeal than chuckle, especially when he had pulled a fast one on us.
“Jump toward your favorite,” my sister-in-law pressed. When the frog jumped in my direction, I jumped for joy – fists held high in victory.
Daniel, who had asked my dad to send him a sign, leaned over the frog and said, “I love you Dad.” We laughed nervously. The frog then turned toward each of us before hopping under my dad’s car.
The following morning later, my eldest brother remembered a silly song that my father loved, which we had forgotten to sing about a funny little frog who kissed his beloved before departing. “Goon goon goes the funny little froggy. . . “
Was the frog’s appearance that night just nature or could it have been my dad and God sharing a laugh? It doesn’t matter much. In that moment, I believed in God.
With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Findling.
Debbie Findling is a philanthropic adviser in San Francisco.
(This Perspective originally aired May 15th, 2019.)