Friday, January 04, 2002

My grandmother came to live with me for about a month, back in the autumn of 1984. The odd thing about it was that she had died the previous June. Well, considering we'd always knew she had certain paranormal powers, maybe it wasn't that odd.

Nana had run a couple of tea rooms in the Boston area throughout the fifties and sixties that specialized in the reading of playing cards and tea leaves to tell the future. She was a pretty good reader herself, and some of the women who worked for her were phenomenal. Nana was also skilled at the laying-on of hands to heal minor bruises, and occasionally seeing the future in her dreams.

Her posthumous visits to me could be written off as dreams, but they were decidedly un-dreamlike. In my usual dreams, I float from location to location, and any manner of odd things might happen. The "dreams" of Nana's visits were strikingly and boringly real.

For the month of Nana's visit, each night I'd go to sleep, then be awakened an hour or so later. She'd sit on the foot of my bed, I'd sit up, and we'd talk until the early hours, when I'd drift off to sleep again, only to be awakened by the alarm a short stretch later. I spent the month in a sleep-deprived daze, wondering if the visits were real or imagined. Finally, one night, she explained that she had other people to visit and say goodbye to, but that I'd see her again sometime later. The next night I resumed my previously normal sleep patterns.

Years later when I explained these visits to my parents, they confessed that the month before my experience, they too had lost several weeks sleep because of her visits. Finally, my father had had to ask his mother-in-law to stop bothering them and get on to the next world. That's when she moved in with me.

The last time I saw Nana was about twelve years after death, almost to the day. It was the night before my wedding, just after the rehearsal dinner. We'd been dining on the second floor of the restaurant, and we were on our way out.

I was heading down the stairs walking alongside my soon-to-be bride, Leslie. Without a word being exchanged between us, I realized that the extra wide steps were suddenly feeling very crowded and I hesitated a moment to allow her to go ahead of me. Once I was behind her I realized that the reason it felt crowded was that my grandmother was cutting between Leslie and I. With me out of the way, Nana took hold of Leslie's arm and escorted her the rest of the way down the stairs and out of the restaurant.

Later that night, when Leslie and I were alone, she asked me, "Was that your grandmother?" I answered, yes, and she said, "I thought that was rude the way you were stepping on her feet. I'm glad you gave us some space to be together."

Leslie, by that point, knew many of the stories about my grandmother, and so wasn’t too surprised by their post-mortem meeting. She knew what she was getting into by marrying into my family; she realized that if she hung around long enough, she’d be seeing ghosts too, someday. I'm just glad she had a chance to meet Nana (and that Nana approved of her).

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