Thanks to everyone who wished me well following my fall from grace. I am now recovered enough to sit in front of this screen for short periods, though I’m still using the ‘sick’ bed the Baron set up for me in the laundry room since it means fewer steps to the computer, the kitchen and the bathroom.
Back in the old days, one could make meaning out of pain by “offering it up for the souls in Purgatory.” Now that Purgatory has been dispensed with, one must simply endure it and that makes the whole thing more impersonal and therefore harder. Sometimes I do miss “the power of the fire and the beads” of my childhood faith. Fortunately, movies like Sixth Sense come along sometimes and I get to indulge my intuition that there must be some interval of wandering after death.
The Baron’s grandmother died suddenly of a heart attack. She was at the dinner table and simply keeled over. Grandma Belle was a rather forbidding figure to the young Baron; she had great moral authority in the family and was one of those old-fashioned southern matriarchs. Did only southern women get named “Belle”? I never heard the name while I lived up north but it’s not uncommon here, especially for women of her generation.
After Grandma Belle died, Grandpop eventually remarried. His new wife was a widow also and it was understood that when Grandpop died she would remain living in the house until her death. Which is what happened; after she died the house then reverted to the Baron’s family and his aunt and uncle eventually retired there. Family members go to Grandpop’s to visit sometimes.
On several occasions there have been disturbing experiences.
The first one I heard of was from Shelagh, many years ago. She came out of the bedroom to which she had been assigned during our visit and told me she wasn’t going to sleep in that room. There was a woman in there who didn’t want her in the place. Poor Shelagh had more experiences with the thin places in life than she ever wanted.
The second incident happened with the Baron’s niece. She, too, felt the presence of a woman who was unhappy. Nicki, always more practical, airily dismissed her night visitor.
The third occurrence was with the Baron himself. He woke one night to ‘see’ Grandma Belle at the foot of the bed. She seemed her old forbidding self and was agitatedly folding laundry. Gradually the apparition faded and the Baron went back to sleep.
Shoot. All the times I’ve slept there and she never visited me. I have an idea it’s because we’re so much alike. I know that in the afterlife I shall be forced to fold all the laundry I’ve let moulder in the basket in my time, having to return it to the dryer again to remove the wrinkles caused by sitting so long. Either that, or I’ll scare the bejayzus out of someone sneaking into the kitchen for a midnight snack because there my ghostly remains will be, distractedly cleaning out the refrigerator. I don’t think the Powers That Be will accept my excuse, which is that I believe there is a Laundry Fairy. What happens is that if you leave the darn pile sitting there long enough, she’ll show up and take care of it for you — including putting all of the clothing away. The fact that no one has ever shown up to do this little chore doesn’t shake my underlying hope that she’s merely been delayed and will arrive any day now.
At any rate, thanks to all of you for your thoughtful notes. It’s comforting to be remembered.