Death is an inevitable companion of life. When it comes time to pass, and if you had half the chance, wouldn’t you try to let your loved ones know that you’d made it out of this life and into the next, ok, if you could? In the same way, as a son or daughter might call their parents from a foreign land, to let them know of their safe arrival, wouldn’t your desire be to alleviate your family of worry. And, if your mode of communication was altered, how would you best go about personalising your message, so that they knew for sure it was you ‘calling’ to let them know you were still with them, in spirit, every step of the way?
This is exactly what happened to the Fox family, following the death of their beloved son, brother, and uncle, Greg, who died suddenly in a motorbike accident which left them shocked and grief stricken. Greg’s eldest brother, Andrew, gives an intimate account of the events that unfolded, which reveal uncanny synchronicities and a remarkable after-death communication, that will leave you with the most powerful impression that life and death are at once, meaningful and mysterious, and without a doubt, magical! That even in times of heart-wrenching sorrow, there can appear, hope, and gratitude for a love that knows no end. Welcome, Andrew!
On a night in November 2006, my wife Anne and I were travelling in our car, heading home, from Fremantle. My mobile rang and it was a customer of mine, named Neville. He told me his twenty-one-year-old son, Adrian, had terminal lung cancer, and that he and his wife, Heather, were trying to raise funds to fulfil his dying wish to visit the US. He asked if I could help with this, in any way. I was moved by their plight, and so through the social club at work, and various other friends, we were able to collect $2,000 which went towards the trip for Adrian.
In March 2007, Adrian passed away. I’d met him twice, and out of respect for Neville, who I liked very much, I went to the funeral at Fremantle cemetery. It turned out that Heather was so impressed by the sensitivity shown to them by the funeral company during this sad time, that she went on to take a job with the same funeral company … and time went by.
I couldn’t sleep. I felt really uptight. It was the night of Friday, July 6, 2007. Over the months, I’d been noticing news reports about motorbike accidents and regularly commented on it to Anne. We are both from South Australia, and comparatively, it stood out to me that there were a lot more fatal motorbike accidents in Western Australia than in South Australia.
I was watching the Channel 10 news the following day, Saturday, July 7. “Look at this, another fatality!” I said to my wife, dismayed. This time, it involved a thirty-four-year-old man from Gooseberry Hill and there was footage of the bike’s front wheel. It featured a distinct paint job on its mudguard. My heart sank. It looked just like the mudguard that belonged to my brother, Greg’s, Harley – he was thirty-four and lived in Gooseberry Hill.
I tried ringing Greg immediately, but there was no answer. Anne tried reassuring me the news report wasn’t about my brother. I hurried Anne and our daughter into the car, and the three of us drove on to Gooseberry Hill, to Greg’s place. All the way, we kept trying to get him on the phone, but there was no answer.
When we arrived at his house, we were told by his housemate that the police had just been there and taken a young friend of Greg’s away with them, to identify the body. I knew for sure it was Greg who’d been in the fatal crash. We rang up the police and sadly, I was right, he’d been identified, my brother was dead. We hurried to the Midland police station which held Greg’s personal possessions. I was angry the police hadn’t been in touch with our family, to tell us of the tragedy sooner. It was almost twenty-four hours on from the time of the accident.
At the police station, I rang my dad in South Australia to tell him of the devastating news. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do – it was gut-wrenching. My mum answered the phone. I asked to speak to dad but he wasn’t home. He and my middle brother, Michael, were on their way back home from Coober Pedy. Mum sensed something was wrong and asked me what was going on, so I told her. She was utterly devastated.
I wished I was there to comfort her. Anne rang friends of our family who went over to be with mum. I rang dad on the road and told him what had happened to Greg. He and Michael couldn’t drive, they were so shocked and upset. A friend had to meet them en route and take them home. The next day, dad and Michael flew to Perth.
Meanwhile, that same Saturday, after leaving the police station, I went to Charles Gardner hospital morgue, at about 9 am to see my brother’s body. When I saw Greg, I yelled: “No!” I was in terrible shock. I’d actually been to the very same hospital earlier that same day, to visit a guy from work who’d broken his leg. My brother would have been there then, in the morgue. Greg died from a great impact to his chest the night before, at about 9 pm, when a car ran into him.
I’d been the one to encourage Greg to come out to Perth, to work for me as a mechanic’s assistant. I also fired him from the job which really angered my parents – especially my dad. My brother always found work, though, and his last job was as a courier driver. Sometimes we disagreed on things. If anything, I was overly protective, trying too hard to steer him, in what I thought was the right direction.
Greg was easier going than me. He loved cars, bikes, and a yarn. He had lots of friends and his favourite haunt was the Last Drop in Kalamunda, a pub he was a regular at. The last time I saw my brother was on April 28, 2007, at his house to celebrate his birthday. Greg lit off a Red Fox firecracker, the significance being that we’re both redheads and our surname is Fox. It was the best time we’d had together in ages – we felt relaxed around each other.
When dad and Michael arrived in Perth, we went about packing up Greg’s belongings which included his two high-performance Holdens and his Harley motorbike, to go back to South Australia. One of the girls at Greg’s house said to Michael and me, that on the day of the accident, he had problems starting up his orange HQ SS Monaro 454 chev, and so went off on his Harley instead. We tried starting the HQ SS Monaro up and it did so straight away, which made us both cry. What if it had started up for him the same way, maybe he’d still be alive.
Michael wanted to get Greg’s Harley back from the crash repairers. When we arrived there, the crash repairer told us he remembered the bike from being parked outside the Last Drop. I looked at the bike and it was hardly damaged. The third vehicle Greg owned was a white HQ Monaro 350 chev. It was the only one of the three to have a Western Australian registration. These were all packed into a container and shipped back to South Australia by train. I took time off work and flew to South Australia, to be with my family.
A few days later, Michael and I picked up the container and took it back to my parent’s place – a 48-acre farm. We had some trouble getting my brother’s body back to South Australia. It took about a week, or so. We then had a private viewing for friends. It was hard seeing my brother like that. His spirit just wasn’t there – it wasn’t Greg. The body was cremated.
The day of the service, Michael and I each drove one of Greg’s Monaros. Our Uncle Dan said that as the cars pulled up next to each other, he saw both of them drop a small amount of coolant on the ground at exactly the same time. Even Greg’s cars shed a tear from him.
That night, we had a massive bonfire on my parent’s property to honour Greg. No kidding, there were about two semi-trailer loads of wood for it. You could see the night’s sky glowing from town. I learned that my brother was known for drinking only half a beer at a time, so I did the same. His friend, Harry, called it the Greg Fox beer – half drunk, half thrown away!
A few days on, my parents went to town to get new plates for Greg’s white, two-door, HQ Monaro 350 chev, which they intended to sell. Acquiring new plates was a standard, random procedure. My parents lined up and were handed plates which came wrapped up. They then drove to their post office box. Mum got out of the car to get the mail while dad waited in the car. With nothing better to do, dad thought he’d open the plates and take a look at them. Imagine his surprise when he did and they read: XOF 777.
The significance of this, of course, is that the plates spelled our family name backward. Also, we’d found out about Greg’s death on the seventh day, of the seventh month, of the seventh year. What are the chances of that? It’s pretty amazing stuff! And, it’s just like Greg to be saying hi to us by something to do with one of his cars. Dad and mum were so moved by the plates, as a sign that the spirit of their son lives on, in some way, that they held onto them. Now, they are attached to their 4WD. The plates have brought my parents some measure of relief. And, every time I see those plates, I smile.
Back in Perth, we organised a farewell for Greg at the Last Drop. Friends turned up with their hotted up cars as a way to pay tribute. Dad, Michael and a friend of Greg’s came over from South Australia, to be a part of it. Even the chef and the waitress at the Last Drop, who’d been friendly with Greg, added something special to the night, and the band played a song for him.
I’d invited Neville and Heather, who’d lost their son earlier in the year, and they came along. It was here, at the Last Drop, that Heather told me about her first job working for the funeral company. She said that she was called out by the coroner to pick up my brother, Greg. She took good care of him.
Oh, my … this story so moves me, I cry every time I read it. It pains my heart, the thought of losing a son, a brother, a friend, yet, Greg’s after-death communication is really beautiful, and fills me with hope. Thank you, Andrew, for sharing such a personal story with us here at Spirit my way. I’m sure there are many people who feel equally moved as I am, by your love of family, and your emotional honesty in speaking openly about your grief.
Grief is something we will all face in our lives, and many of us already have. Some of us are grieving now, a loved one passed or a relationship that has come to an end. How do you deal with grief? What has been the most unexpected thing for you about the experience of grief? Perhaps, you know someone who is grieving and may benefit from reading this post. Share the love.