Only a small fragment of our thoughts, feelings, and ideas are conscious and visible. The vast bulk of our mental processes are unconscious, invisible and unavailable to everyday introspection.
This tale begins on a neurological intensive care unit where my brother Mark was on life support, in coma and exhibiting minimal brain activity after a severe auto accident on January 11, 1995. After approximately twenty months in a coma, he suddenly awakened, spoke gibberish and told the most fantastic story that was for me very difficult to believe. I recorded it anyway because we came from a family were the supernatural lay just beyond our sight and comprehension. Now 27 years later, I am sharing this tale, my years of thought and contemplation with you. It is my hope that you the reader will find a source of spiritual enlightenment in its pages and decide for yourself what's real and what's simply a byproduct of the human imagination and the souls desire to escape the reality of death.
According to my brother his journey began on a three-hour boat ride across Lake Michigan from Chicago, Illinois to Traverse City, Michigan. Lake Michigan is a huge body of fresh water 118 miles wide, 307 miles long has more than 1,600 miles of scenic shoreline. It's average depth is 279 feet and at its deepest point reaches a depth of 925 feet. His destination, Traverse City known worldwide for being a beautiful port city in a state boasting two peninsulas, and two other great lakes bringing the total to three surrounding and surrounding us on three sides. Together they make up the largest body of fresh water in the world.
The city itself is like a beautiful painting, commercially vibrant, with plenty of restaurants and shops down main streets and in its malls. It is one of the most popular destinations for sportsmen, a paradise boasting many things to see and do bringing fun seekers from around the world to its shores. Strangely, out of all those millions, hardly anyone would ever think that strange things could happen in a place so picturesque. However, my friend, that would be a faulty assumption because the great lakes have a dark side.
Not unlike what's known as the Bermuda triangle extending off the coast of Florida and into the Atlantic. Lake Michigan is also believed to have its own triangle, which my brother’s journey would take him straight through. For the most part, the trip was uneventful but than somewhere between the shores he unexpectedly encountered a strange fog. Nothing that would cause alarm but something unsettling. However, when he arrived on the other side, he quickly noticed things were very different.
The city normally aglow with lights and activities this night was strangely dark. While Mark was contemplating this, he heard a voice calling to him out of the darkness.
Alfred West, “Mark welcome to Traverse City it's 1923, I was praying that you would show up safely and now here you are.”
Mark, “Who the hell are you and how did I get to this place? This time period is all wrong.”
“I assure you Mark, you are here for a good reason and right on time. Our family could really use your help. My name is Alfred J. West and I am your great grandfather and the founder of Atlanta, Michigan. I will only be here for about another year, so time is of the essence.”
“Why have you brought me here? I want to go back home now!”
“Sorry, that is impossible at this time but while you are here, I think we can assist each other. I promise when you do go back very little time will have passed from your perspective but for now, you will accompany me to Atlanta. After we return to St. Clair County, I will introduce you as one of our relatives the Stinson's, during your stay. In the meantime, on our ride over it will give me a chance to explain everything you need to know and please always make note of any numbers you hear or see.”
On the way over, my brother alleges that Alfred told him about the family history of the message, its purpose and how things were being reversed this time around. An opportunity Alfred claimed would be fortunate for everyone. You see, Mark had knowledge of the future, where precisely intervene and when. What the West family valued most was each other and above everything else. They always left messages to the living of hope, inspiration and continued existence beyond the grave. Alfred told my brother, that he would die in 1924 at the age of fifty-nine and that his own son Alfred Dewitt West would die at the even earlier age of fifty-four in 1941. An event that he claimed would leave the family no time to prepare for its future without Mark's help.
Right then and there, Mark was tasked with his role of assisting the West family to prepare for the calamities ahead. My brother agreed and when they arrived in St. Clair County he took a job at the paper company in Port Huron where he worked for a couple of years while waiting. He consumed himself with studying anything he could find about the great lake triangle but there was nothing there and no hint on how he could get back home. When he heard Alfred was passing as predicted, Mark went to visit him again and asked:
“How will I ever get home to my own family?”
Alfred replied, “We are your family to Mark, you will get back, you’re just needed a little longer.”
“Because each of us has a role to play for the continuance of our family, mine is coming to an end whereas yours has recently begun. I caution you, always pay attention to and make note of the numbers.”
My brother told me he didn't like hearing the same message repeated, felt restricted and missed our family so much. However, like Alfred had told him he started to get more adjusted to his new life in the mid 20th century. He actually became a member of the West family but went by the name of Gene Stinson.
During his time in the mid 20th century, Mark was able to survive the great depression, become friends with our great grandfather Alfred Dewitt West until his death in 1941, again as predicted. He later watched over our grandmother as a teenager and served with our grandfather Laurence Laturno in the Navy CB’s during WWII. As family passed, he repeatedly heard about the damn message from the grave and believed he was living out its reverse manifestation.
I personally kind of believe the reason he stayed was my grandmother whom everyone had loved and missed since her death. Whatever, the case sometime after the end of WWII the family became much more secure, while crossing the Pacific on a navy ship he encountered another unusual fog, and he found his way back to a hospital room not knowing where or when he was.
My brother had a traumatic brain injury and what I first thought was gibberish I have now had years to think about and contemplate. I came to realize all of it is the most important question we humans ever ask and the foundation of all religions. What happens after death? I desperately hoped there was something and I needed his story to be true. I thought if I ever figured out the riddle, it would be my own message of hope, inspiration, and a belief in our existence beyond the grave in a better place.
What I came to realize was the fog symbolized my brother’s going in and coming out of his coma, the insistence on watching the numbers was probably related to his vital signs and the twenty years he spent with the West family likely symbolically represented the twenty months he lingered someplace between life and death. Sadly, in all my contemplation, I never found the message.
However, my brother must have because for me what seemed like his hearing random vital signs for him became lottery numbers which he used to win a sizable fortune. It roughly amounted to 20 years of work at 100,000 dollars a year matching the exact amount of time he lived with the West family. His actual reason for being there was to fill the gap left after our grandmother's father died.
Surprisingly, there was actually a person named Gene Stinson that was related to the family and strangely in every picture his image is always cloudy, but his overall body appearance looks like that of my brother. On her death bed, I remember my grandmother confusing my younger brother with someone she kept calling Gene Stinson. I have now come to believe that things were not reversed at all but rather the West family reached out to my brother in his hospital bed to provide him continued purpose, hope, and inspiration keeping him alive.
For the West’s, family was the most important and they always reached out from the grave to leave their message!
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