36. To die another day
When I chatted on ‘talk-back’ Radio 5 AA about trying to come to terms with any animosity towards my ex-boss, I said to the show host, that I was trying to include this person in our social circle of ex-employees. An outing was to take place on 26/05/02. There was great resistance amongst the group to my idea of inviting our old boss. “If he’s coming, I won’t be”, was a common response. I could not influence anyone in forgiving someone else. It was an individual matter. The MCA boss in question had also indicated that he would not attend anyway. I let the matter rest for the time being.
As if by an omen of the smell of death I woke in a state of tears at 4 am on Sunday 26th of May. The co-incident of my friend John’s death at the beginning of the year would not leave me. Something inside me told me he was put to sleep and it angered me. Apart from being morally wrong it was illegal in our state to assist death.
I phoned Radio 5 AA and spoke to Andrew Reimer on-air. He tried to understand and was patient when my emotions took over. A case like John’s highlighted the spiritual emptiness our society was in. Without God as the ultimate decision maker humans will push boundaries further and further until they play God. Only He is master over life and death. Later that Sunday an event took place that confirmed my omen of death. My adventure was about to cross the border into the realm of the supernatural. Our group of ex-employees and their wives took a bus trip to the Southern Vale’s Wine region, an hour or so out of Adelaide. We arrived early at the pre-booked hotel and were seated for lunch around 11.45 am. I sat beside Nigel, the ex-Manager of the driving school, a man I very much respected. I was glad to sit beside him because he was easy to talk to and Isobel had decided not to join in that day.
He started the conversation by asking me casually, how I was going? With an opening like that it was up to me where to steer the conversation to. I could just say ‘good’ and Nigel would have to find more bait for conversation. What made me say it, I don’t know, but my answer surprised me as much as him. I said: “If you turn my name around, Dieter turns into ter die; not a nice thought, is it”.
In typical cool fashion Nigel just smiled and said: “Oh dear!” He knew me and my strange thinking from 13 years of making all sorts of suggestions while he was manager. We talked about other things and I probably would have forgotten what I had said, if the newspaper next day had not reported a road death.
A motorcyclist was killed 70 kilometres away at almost exactly the same time I had said to Nigel, my name turned around sounds like “to die”. The fifty-two year old was a policeman, killed while on duty. The front page newspaper headline read: “Killed in the line of duty”. The paper reported that the accident happened just before midday. The officer was believed to have been chasing a speeding motorist when the accident occurred.
On Monday when only the shell of the story went to press I did not recognize the magnitude of the fatality. As details were broadcast on the radio my inquisitive mind separated the information and played its linking game again. Obvious parallels to my life slowly came to light which to anybody else would be of no consequences. My watchful eye saw a hand pointing in my direction, how spooky!
As I considered the following facts corresponding to my life, I believed Bob’s death was not co-incidental or without purpose:
Bob died trying to make roads safer. I was on the same mission. He also was a migrant, exactly my age (52), married with four children, like I am. His name was Bob, the three letter name I wished I’d called myself immediately after arriving in Australia.
His surname was Sobczak. I think apart from the timing, this fact more than anything convinced me of the supernatural nature of this experience. The first three letters mean ‘to cry’. If anyone had shed tears over the past few years it was I. There would be more to come; both tears and supernatural experiences.
The days following the tragic death of the police officer my emotions were charged to bursting. I believed in God. But would He let a man die just to tell another that he will live? There are other ways and means to convey messages. Unless all these particulars, the names, the timing, the number of children and his age, are just facts – full stop. Isobel had a simple outlook, she believed just that. On this incredible occasion I broke my rule and said something to her, while keeping fully in control of my emotions. She kept saying, just to move on; don’t dwell on the past.
I still had the firm belief that HIS will would be done. Since HE knew how sensitive I was to data, it would have been the easiest thing for HIM to alter things. He could have changed Bob to Bill, 58 years old with 3 children and his name Bloggs. But He did not. So why torture me? There was only one answer to the puzzle and that was HIS will was being done. God was answering the prayer of the two Ministers who I had asked to pray years earlier along the line: … your will be done!”
Learning Bob’s middle name Joseph again struck chord instantly. My mind was cast back to the time Bob Ham, a school’s vice principle, was showing me a class room where I was to start road safety lessons in. I remember saying to him, almost as if talking to myself, as we strolled over to the building: “I am going through a ‘Joseph experience”.
Fifteen years earlier I had prayed to God to place me into the forefront of driver education in Australia. I had great dreams about the ‘’visual aid’ for driving instructors I had just invented and started to sell. There was a desire to contribute to road safety. Joseph in the bible had great dreams. He went through great tragedy and injustices. In the end by trusting HIS God he became a leader, Prime Minister in a foreign country.
It was difficult to conduct driving lessons while tears would well up in my eyes. It got worse every time I thought of the first three letters of Bob’s surname. I regularly wore wide wrap-around sunglasses to hide my tear-drop-blinded eyes. On the Tuesday after Bob’s tragedy I was crying all the way to my first driving lesson. Being on my own in the car I was able to release my emotions without hiding it from Isobel. How would I bluff my way through this first time customer’s driving lesson? The mobile phone went just before I got to the house. The girl’s father cancelled the lesson, I was glad.
When I read the funeral notice in the paper I learned that Bob Sobczak also lived in the North-Eastern district of Adelaide and the funeral was only a suburb away. I decided to attend and told Isobel. She could not understand; I didn’t expect her to come or understand. By now our outlooks about my mental state was locked into opposite poles. In between lay an insurmountable chasm. As I became more confident of my position and calling, I kept thinking how and when Isobel would find out that her husband’s double life was not a fake. And what will be her reaction? She never spent time on the computer.
It was quite a relief to not have to explain all my thoughts and actions to her, or to anyone for that matter. Only the two of us, my unseen friend who I relied upon, and I knew why things happened the way they did. I did consult our Pastor at church once. But what reception could I expect if I started a counselling session with: ‘I think the policeman motorcyclist was killed in my place, so I don’t have to worry about dying. He is called Bob and has four kids and is my age. God arranged him to die just for me so I would know I’m OK. Please Pastor pray for me.’ No, the cross was mine to bear.
There was a huge turnout of mourners on Thursday morning 30/05/02 at St. David’s at Tea Tree Gully. I arrived early and sat in the back of the church. The place was packed, police uniforms everywhere. The Premier of South Australia, the Police Commissioner and other dignitaries sat at the front. A lady and a group of younger people walked in. The family was ushered to the front. What would I say to them, if it ever became known to them, why I think their father and husband had died so young? Wouldn’t they hate me, blame me for his death?
Without any fuss just before the start of the service, a lady sat down beside me. I knew her from meetings of the Liberal Party. It took me a while to realize she was also a prominent person in the city of Tea Tree Gully. Why did she not sit with the VIP’s at the front, I wondered? We never spoke until the end when I whispered: “Thank you for sitting with me”. I left early and quietly. Did she know something about me? Who did she think I was?
Still charged with emotion I went home and sat down on the P/C to email the Advertiser newspaper. I wanted to tell them where I had just been, but also respond to a few names that gelled with me in one of the articles that same day:
Subject: God, it ain't funny.
Why does the word funeral start with the letters fun? I have just been to the sad funeral of Senior Constable Bob (Bogdan Joseph) Sobczak. It was very sad. I was struggling to not having to use my handkerchief.
Your article about P. Diddy, Irv Gotti, J. Lopez and the "L" magazine is
just a little complicated for a non-movie fan to follow. P. Diddy needs to have his eyes checked, if he can't see the difference between Combs and Pitt.
PS. To solve a puzzle I'm looking for a three letter word which means to
cry, weep. Read backwards it means "figure of authority". Any clues?
A rare reply to my email arrived promptly, consisting of only two words: “Try sob”.
One name in the newspaper article I linked with straight away was obviously P. Diddy. The name Gotti I read as a possible hint to mean ‘i Gott’ (German for God). The name J. Lopez I came to realize was a well known pop star. The abbreviated version came up regularly in the paper as J.Lo. In the next chapter I explain the connection between my website car-crashes and these three letters.
The day after the funeral the whole of page 3 of the paper was dedicated to the funeral of Bob Joseph Sobczak. The headline: “Tears flow as police farewell one of their own.” In the group of a dozen or so police officers shown, three were wiping their faces with handkerchiefs. I spotted something special in the bottom right hand corner of the picture; an officer holding a trumpet. I played the trumpet in church occasionally and had done so since I was a teenager.
The whole affair was emotionally draining. Did I really think God would let someone be killed in my place? It’s possible, one side of me would say. Don’t be stupid, you’re making a big fool of yourself, the ‘rational, normal down to earth thinker’ would argue. Yet following May 26th 02, I received a peace in my spirit; a confirmation that my life was safe. It was an answer to the question I had asked months earlier: “Would you be prepared to die for this cause, Die ter?”
From then on I called myself Bob D. Fischer. I even tried my family to call me Bob, but Isobel and my children thought I was silly and worried about going high again. The only reference to my name change was my signature in my emails. It confused many recipients, but I stuck with it without explaining to anyone.
Later in the year, when I remembered that I had registered another website dieterfischer.com, and since my name Dieter – ter die - became quite significant, I again used my original name.
Autobiography - Dieter Fischer
1. More in number 2. A sound mind 3. Now I'm found 4. Candle and the Wind
5. Realm of Nature 6. All in his Hand 7. The Wonder of it All 8. To Think God loves