I was lucky to have known my great-grandmother. Once a nun, she had to leave the convent because of illness. She married and raised a family and lived a normal life with both ups and downs. Other than the gambling addiction of her husband, she always kept her feelings to herself. I can still see her washing the dishes or doing other household chores in silence. I do not remember her talking very much. I don’t take after her in that regard.
When I was young, my sister and I had very long hair down to our waists. My great-grandmother loved curling our hair with cotton rags. In those days they did not have curling irons or curlers. The technique was very simple; you tear worn cotton sheets in strings and roll the strands hair around it. You would apply the cotton string when the hair is wet. You could then sleep on these rollers. It was very uncomfortable but the result was great. It was worth the pain. After a few times, I learned to do it myself. I was around seven at the time. The result was a nice ‘big do’ that would last until the next hair wash.
My great-grandmother passed away when I was about thirteen. I remember being woken from a sound sleep by a firm hand touching my shoulder. I jumped abruptly from my bed, trembling in fear. As I turned on the light, I knew it was my great-grandmother visiting me as she left and promising to watch over me. I still feel her presence around me; both watching and protecting me.
My great-grandmother had a porcelain doll that she always cherished; perhaps a special Christmas gift from her childhood.
Christmas was always special. The entire family reunited to celebrate with both children and grandchildren. I will always remember the music of my grandparents and uncles playing the violin, the accordion, the guitar and even the spoons.
The children were put to bed on Christmas Eve and would wake to the sound of the music; celebrations continuing from the night before. My cousins and I would make our way downstairs where we could not believe our eyes. The entire living room would be filled with presents. One year, I received a doll that was very similar to my great-grandma’s porcelain doll. It was three feet tall and had beautiful blond hair and elegant clothing. I played with that doll all through elementary school. It was my cherished Christmas present.
My great-grandmother’s doll always sat close to her bedroom window. And, we often saw it as we passed through her bedroom to go into my grandmother’s room. I always felt as if it watched me as I passed. The hairs on the back of my neck would stand on end and I was too frightened to move my neck to the right or left. It was pretty scary.
As a matter of fact, the entire upstairs at my grandparent’s house was scary. It always took me a lot of courage to go up there. It was like if the upstairs was occupied by deceased love ones. I could feel a sort of energy up there. As I lived at my grandmother’s house during my first year of university, I finally got accustomed to this energy. Although I did not stay in my great- grandmother’s room, I slept in another one where my great-grandparent’s picture hung on the wall. I felt protected from the other energy that was floating around the house.
As I am writing this story at 1:45AM in the morning, I can feel goose pumps along my spine. I can, even today, sense my great-grandmother’s presence in my office. I feel it…it is intense. But I know that she would never harm me.
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Story by Joanne
Edited by Karen C.