My grandmother hasn’t had all of her crayons in her box for years, if you catch my drift. Usually I take things that she tells me with a grain of salt because she so easily gets things mixed up or interprets things wrong or even describes things that never happened. Just tonight she asked my uncle to buy her something at a grocery store that hasn’t been in business for about twenty years. Sometimes when she’s not lucid, she thinks I’m my mother or my cousin Allison who, incidentally, looks nothing like me. The last few days, however, my grandmother has been very lucid and we are able to have conversations fairly well. It reminds me of the grandmother I knew when I was a little girl who was fun, played Barbies with me, baked with me, took me to the zoo and the park and the great carousels in St. Louis, etc. I’m grateful that she has been lucid lately because my mother has been in Florida for a few days and it would be really hard to be alone with someone who may or may not know what day it is or who I am. And when she’s lucid, she’s okay with being a lifelong medium. Maybe the security of a solid grip on reality allows her to venture into more uncertain ideas. I don’t know.
This evening before dinner, she pulled up a chair and very seriously told me that she had something to tell me. I tend to clam up when she does that because it could be anything from cut your hair to go to church more often. You know how grandmothers are. Well, she started to describe seeing a full bodied apparition last night after I went to bed. She said she was at her bed and she turned around to leave the room and go to the bathroom but as she turned, there was a woman at the other end of the bed, about four or five feet away.
“A woman?” I asked skeptically.
She said yes, described it again, and then went on to tell me that the woman was turning to leave the room too, as if she was getting out of the way. I asked her to describe the woman and she said, “Well, like a pioneer, I guess.” My grandmother has absolutely no understanding of history, so I probed for more details. It might sound bad but I questioned her like I see cops questioning small children on television. I asked her what the woman looked like and she couldn’t exactly find the words. I asked her what color her hair was and she said she couldn’t see it because the woman wearing “a pioneer bonnet”, which basically means the woman looked like Dr. Quinn to her because that’s her point of reference. I asked if the bonnet was straw or cloth and she said cloth right away. Then I asked her if she was a small or big woman. She thought about it for a second and said she was a little bigger than my mother. I tried to get more details out of her but she said the woman was turning around, so she couldn’t get a look at her face. It was only a few seconds and she disappeared into the living room, which, incidentally, is on the way to where I sleep.
So there you have it. My grandmother has been lucid lately and her medium skills have returned. I’m used to her deterioration though and I’m aware that the lucidity could give way to events from twenty or thirty years ago at any moment. I believe her story because I tried to trip her up a few times with my questions but her facts never changed in the conversation. I explained to her that this area was probably farmland outside of the city of Atlanta in the nineteenth century and the people who lived here were basically dirt farmers like our ancestors were in central Missouri. I don’t know who this woman might be though. The only apparition I’ve seen here besides my usual tag-along-ghost-crew is the Confederate soldier who roams around my neighborhood. Maybe this lady was connected to him. Maybe she lived here. Maybe she’s wandered off from the Oakland Cemetery a couple of miles away (one of the oldest cemeteries in Atlanta). I’m not sure. I’m definitely curious to find out what this area looked like in the nineteenth century though!