I don’t know where it comes from, that empathic or intutitive connection to the other worlds. Do witches and seers just happen like an oddity, by chance and without reason within a narrative? I’m not necessarily calling myself a witch, maybe witchy, at times but I have been curious. My dear friend, Conrad, suggested that this superstitious and spiritual side of myself comes from somewhere in my family. My family? My family with the rich history of conservative, clean shaven politics? Well, then again, there is a quiet underlining to my mom’s side of the family. They are a bunch of farmers and gardens, constantly tilling and rolling the soil with a certain wonder.
This source of superstition is more apparent to me when I go home to Western New York where, buried in the drawers and cupboards, are the many hundreds of framed and unframed family portraits and photographs. There’s a lot hiding in my grandfather’s house mainly: in his barn, in the attic, in the basement. He hoards things. But I’d like to think that somethings are just impossible to let go by ourselves. Like the ghosts. Of course, being who I am and growing up in the house that I did, I don’t use the word ghost stories lightly. And neither does my mom.
I was too young to really tell what my mom went through when her sister past away, in a tragic incident that it was. Later she would tell me how the hardest part of not being able to call her up on the phone; how surreal it was to think of something funny, randomly in the day, and just want to call up Marilyn to share with her. She would rush to the phone, begin dialing numbers, and pause; thinking, “Oh, wait. Marilyn’s not with us anymore.”
But in a way Marilyn was still with us, at least for a little while after she past away. I don’t know much about death and passing, but I know that the spirit does make its rounds before heading off into the next world, that is if they know where they’re going and how to get there. Mom my told me a story just last week when I was home about Marilyn that I had never heard. Between us was the heavy wooden kitchen table, the kitchen light was dim and appropriate for a late evening talk. Her story began with my mom’s usual surprise, “Wait, what? Oh, no. Surely, I’ve told you this story before! She, of course, didn’t and proceeded to narrate.
“Well, let’s see. It was soon after her death. I remember, I had just got back from New York for the funeral. I was doing my usual run up Buehler’s hill in the neighborhood. At that time, I was having some weird problems with my feet when running—you know, being flat foot and all. There was a bone that would suddenly go out of place and then I would simply be dragging my limp leg.” My mom said this with her goofy, wide grin, holding her leg as if still having to drag it around. So anyways, I get up to that hill and out of nowhere, and in the distance, this huge storm was coming. I mean, big dark clouds and lightening bolts coming down four at a time—and the weather guy wasn’t even calling for rain that day! So, I set out running back down the hill. I chose to take the long route to get back home, which seemed like a dumb idea, but there were friends I could knock on their door in case I got in real trouble with the storm. Anyways, so here I am running down the hill and, wouldn’t you know it, my foot gives out. I’m practically dragging myself; meanwhile, the thunder and lightening are still shooting down. I mean, the storm was right about on top of me at this point.”
Well, out of nowhere there she is, Marilyn, running at my side. She wasn’t looking at me but just straight ahead. When we were kids, Marilyn would always call me Kit—I don’t know why, but anyways—I remember she kept saying to me, ‘C’mon, Kit! We gotta get going. Let’s get going!’ And I said, ‘Okay Marilyn! I’m running!’ And sure enough, to my own surprise I was running and my foot was fine. “
“She ran with all the way to the railroad, at least that’s the last time I remember seeing her out of the corner of my eye. The storm had already caught up by then so I kept sprinting down the driveway. I get to the front door,” my mom slams both of her hands on the kitchen table between us, “And wouldn’t you know it, my foot gave out and I fell to the floor.”