A Reflection of Dad
A man puts his father’s ashes in the lake and then begins to see a reflection of his father in the water.

Mitchell Kowitz

© Copyright 2024 by Mitchell Kowitz

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@fabulu75?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Fabrice Villard</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/two-beige-boat-on-water-nig-NqGjAAE?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Unsplash</a>
Photo by Fabrice Villard on Unsplash
My father and I were close for many years. When he got sick, he and I had a big fight that resulted in me storming out of his house. Three days later, he passed away from colon cancer. After his passing, I became wracked with guilt. I thought about the argument that we had. I thought about the fishing trip on Lake Walnut that we used to go on every year. Now, grief and guilt consumed me.

My family is Jewish, and I was brought up in that faith. I really didn’t believe in all of that stuff, but my father did. For most of his life my father was an observant Jew. His last request was a bit odd to me. For some reason, my father, in his last will and testament requested that his body be cremated and scattered on the lake that where we went fishing for years. He knew that Jewish law prohibits cremation, but he had made up his mind and this is what he instructed us to do.

It was Friday morning; the air was crisp and there was a smell of lilacs in the air. I started out on my long drive to the lake. When I arrived, the water and trees were calm. It was like looking at a painting in a museum. The countryside was peppered with lots and lots of wildflowers as far as the eye could see. The colors of purple, green and blue dazzled the eye. You could see a reflection in the lake of the sky and clouds. It was an exact mirror of what was above. I walked out on the deck to the water and after much reflection, emptied Dad’s ashes into the lake. This was all that is left of my father, I thought. I longed for one more chance to make it right with my father…feeling so sorry that the last memory I will hold forever is my dad and I arguing. I made my way back to my car. Once in the car, I began to sob…I was inconsolable. I looked at the lake through my windshield for a while then started the car, and pulled on to the highway for the drive home.

A year later, it was my father’s Yahrzeit or anniversary of his death. I thought that it might be meaningful to go back to the lake where we always fished…this would be a wonderful way to honor his memory. That night I lit a special candle to honor his life and what he had meant to me.

I woke up the next morning. It was still dark as I saw the sun beginning to rise in the horizon. I proceeded to get my rod and fishing tackle together, and headed out to the car for the drive to the lake.

I arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon, plenty of time to throw a line in and catch a few fish I thought.

I rented an old boat, rowed my way out to the middle of the lake, and cast my rod into the water. This is what gave my father pleasure, I thought. My lure hit the still water and ripples started to pool outward.

Seeing the ripples and smelling the lake air made all of my guilt disappear for a while. I was in the boat looking at the spot where I had cast my line and I thought that I could see something in the water. The water was like a mirror and only ten feet deep. I could clearly see some rocks below in the water. I edged closer to the side of the boat to get a closer look.

The image at first appeared to have a tinge of blue as it rose from the bottom of the lake. To my shock, my father’s face was in the water, and he was smiling at me! It was a hot day and sweat was pouring into my eyes stinging them. I wiped my eyes and looked again at the water. Then, I heard his voice talking in my head. I sat down, closed my eyes and looked once again…this time his face was gone.

This wasn’t real I thought to myself…this is all about the guilt I felt about the fight my father and I had just before he died. There was no doubt that I felt enormous guilt. It has been trapped inside of me for years. I guess that’s why his face appeared to me. In a strange way, this made sense to me. I left the lake around 4 p.m. and thought that perhaps, this was some type of message…or a manifestation of all of the guilt I had been feeling…I really didn’t know.

I decided to begin a new tradition….to go fishing in the lake on the anniversary of my father’s death.
As I drove home, I thought about the possibility of seeing his face again. Would it be real…or…would it be a figment of my imagination? I finally arrived home and settle in looking forward to the next year when I would make the trip to the lake to honor my father’s memory.

A year has passed…once again, I find myself on the same lake where my father and I used to fish. After about an hour in the boat, I leaned over and again, I saw his face in the water on the side where I had cast in my line. His mouth was moving and I could hear his voice in my head. He was talking to me!

My body froze. I could hardly catch my breath. My mind went blank with fear and all I could do was listen to my father’s voice. The face of my father told me that I would have a son, get a big promotion, and he warned me that a fire would occur in my home. Then his voice said, “its okay son, I love you…never forget that.”

At that point, I lost it and began bawling like a baby. “This can’t be in my mind” I thought.
I really did see him. I really did hear his voice! What is happening to me, I cried out. Dad … Are you trying to tell me something!

Weeks passed since that day. I kept my secret for a while because I thought who would ever believe in such a story. They probably would have me evaluated for my sanity at some nut house. I just couldn’t risk telling anyone of what was going on. Who would ever believe that I saw his face and heard his voice? Even I don’t believe it at times.

Later that year, just like the voice said, I had a son, got a promotion, and we had a small fire in the kitchen. It all happened months apart, so I really didn’t give it much thought until…two days before the anniversary of my father’s death. I started to think what he had said to me. All the events that he told me came true…how was that possible?

My father’s faith was unshakeable. His ashes are scattered throughout this lake so where did his soul go? I wondered. Was it in this lake? This thought just sent chills up spine. I wanted to tell someone but knew that they would never believe me. How could they? The face of my father in this lake talking to me?! This is something that crazy people go through I said to myself.

I wasn’t feeling well when I started my drive to the lake. For the last three years I had gone to this lake, however, this time, I just didn’t know what to expect. I arrived at the lake around 3:30 p.m. I got in the boat and traveled to the middle of the lake. I threw in the anchor and my chest began to tighten up. I started to feel dizzy and my arm, started to go numb. Then I stood up. I must have passed out and fell into the water.

The next day the news listed that they had found a body in the water. The coroner said that the victim suffered a massive heart attack and drowned. There was a lot of scuttlebutt and the lake was closed for a week.

Later that year, a family rented a pontoon to go around the lake and fish. It was a family of four with a young girl named Janie and her younger brother, Tommy. As they were traveling down the lake, they threw the anchor in and stopped. Tommy and Janie looked over the side of the boat and in the water, saw the faces of an older man and a younger one smiling at each other.

After lunch, Tommy said to Janie, “You know what we saw, right?”

Janie answered, “Yes” and asked, “Why do you think they are smiling at each other?”

Then Tommy said, “Perhaps they are once again together.”

Janie just nodded her head and said, “They look so happy to be together.” They then called out to their parents to come and see what they were looking at. When the parents came to the bough of the boat, there was nothing to be seen.

Mom and Dad looked at us and asked what we saw in the water. We said, “We’re not sure…maybe a manatee or something.” Later when Janie was alone, Tommy said to her “We saw what we saw. These faces must be part of this lake.

"You know," said Jamie, “maybe if we come back next year, they will even say hello.” 

“Yes, said Tommy, Maybe they will say hello!”


I am the author of Kosher Cuisine for a New Generation, In the House of Temptation, and Soul MurderOne Man’s Struggle to Hell and Back

I am currently working on stories, poems, and songs. Each story or poem is 3000 words or less and attracts the reader with many possibilities of the life of the character as well as their own. Tales from the World Beyond is the title to a collection of over 30 short stories.

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