Monday, October 31, 2011

A Good Scare Will Shut You Up -- A True Halloween Tale

I awoke that morning in March 1989, with the very same thoughts I had had all month long.

I lay in bed, uncomfortable, but not wanting to get up. It had been a month since my grandmother passed away, and the heart ache of living without her still felt like a fifty pound weight sitting on my chest.

As I stared out the window, full of sorrow for myself at the thought of what this first year without her would be like, I felt the energy leaving my body, even after ten hours of sleep. 

I sighed as I looked at the clock on the dresser that faced me. In the middle of the dresser there was a pink bedroom lamp, and next to the lamp there was a framed picture of me at eight years old sitting on my grandmother's lap.  The sunshine was coming in now, strong -- and there was no need for any lights to be on. The brightness of the room made me remember what my grandmother would always say when we'd put the lights on in the house on a sunny day, "The sun is out! What a sin to have the lights on when we have the Lord's light!" She'd then furiously walk through the house, flicking off every light switch with her determined hand.

As I thought of her I pulled the covers up to my nose, and knew the thirtieth day of beginning my mornings in sobs was seconds away. The familiar bottom lip trembling began, and right on time, the floodgates opened.

My tears were hot and they spilled out of the inner corners of my eyes with no forced effort from me. I was home alone and gave in to the luxury of loud, heaving cries of emotional pain that felt so good.

How I wailed, how I self indulged; "Oh, grandmother, what will I do without you? What will I doooooo? I miss you so much. I don't want to do anything but just lay here and cry..." The clock on the dresser said seven, I disregarded it. I didn't care about anything. This was how it had been for four weeks now.  

I was full throttle on with self pity. I had been crazy about Shakespeare in high school and took to memorizing any lines that spoke to me in my sophomore angst. I knew even back then, with the melodramatic mindset I was developing, that there'd be plenty o'times a Shakespeare quote would come in handy in my lifetime. Like just this very morning, "My grief lies all within and these external manners of lament are merely shadows to the unseen grief that swells in my tortured soul." 

Dude knew what he was talking about.

I continued on with the wails and chest thumping and thoughts of how no one had ever suffered a broken heart like this. 

Remember Smokey Robinson? You think Smokey was singing about losing a girl in "Just To See Her Again?" no no and no. You would be wrong. He was singing about my grandmother. 

I lay in bed, ten feet deep into my one woman show of offering up croaked bars of "...I would give anything...just to see her again..." and decide to call in sick to work -- once more -- and spend the rest of the morning wallowing in this personal pain. "Why, gramma, why?? WHYYYYYY???"

As I enter round three of woe-is-me, the pink bedroom lamp on my dresser begins to flicker off and on like a strobe light. I gasp and stare wide eyed, incredulous at what is happening. Time felt suspended, and what may have been a just a millisecond felt more like minutes.

I have always been a kid, then later on the type of person, that responded quickly to a good, swift kick in the ass.

I shuttup.

Tears, gone.

I knew who it was. I spoke to her, tremulously, "Okay, gramma, okay..I'll get up. I'm scared. I'll stop. I'll get up..."

Just to make sure I did get my sorry wallowing butt out of bed, she then decided to knock down the picture -- the one of us together -- to the ground.

Holy cow, you've never seen anyone throw back covers and jump out of bed faster than me that morning.

"Okay, Okay, Okay, I'm all done with Smokey, no more Shakespeare. Loud and clear." I raced through the house, got dressed, found my shoes, grabbed my keys, and slammed the door behind me.

Up and at 'em. From bed to door in twenty minutes flat.

And this is my true Halloween Tale for you today.


  1. I'd call that a ghostly butt kicking, straight into high gear.

  2. I do believe. Wonderful : ) Simply, absolutely positively Wonderful!

  3. Love this!

    I was thinking of my Grandmother this weekend, too. Sometimes she visits me in my dreams...always feels like stolen time.

  4. Dear all:

    This is a true story. And I remember blinking my tears away and JUST SHUTTING UP already.


  5. Wow, your Grandmother sounds amazing . . . in all her forms.

  6. ha. thats an awesome grandmother :) Cool story

  7. Oh, my word.

    This is my new favorite post of yours, I think.

    From lamenting with you over the loss of your grandmother

    To guffawing at your Shakespeare and Smokey Robinson references

    To jumping at the flickering light and falling picture frame.

    And it's all true to boot.

    Love. Happy Halloween, dear.

  8. Cool. Nothing gets you to work on time like an ass-kicking from the spirit world:-)

    Kind of a neat story, knowing your Gramma was there with you.

    Happy Halloween!

  9. Well your darling grandmother did NOT come to roust you out of bed. Once they cross over, ghosts don't return to scare you! (you're thinking of demons, another thing entirely)

    She came to comfort you and to tell you she was there, that she was watching. That you'd be ok.

  10. I think your grandmother and my grandmother would have been good friends-- I swear that whenever I am at a (self-perceived) crossroads, or lamenting about some minute thing I cannot change, I smell her lilac perfume. Every time that I need to get off my ass and just get whatever done, I smell her.

  11. Wow - that's chilling and heartwarming at the same time.

  12. What a sweet memory. Your grandma was clearly quite wise.

  13. That is an awesome story and a good nudge from grandma to get on with the business of living!

  14. What a great Halloween tale! I know how close you must have been to your grandmother from following you here, Alexandra. And as hard as it is to be without her in this present world, know that she always looks down on you and wants you to do right.

    That would have made me jump right out of the bed, too. XOXO

  15. That's a pretty great story. Grandmas know just how to get through to their grandchildren!

  16. Excellent! Leave it to Grandma to tell it like it is... even from the grave.
    Love this.

  17. woot...i would say thank goodness for these ghosts...

  18. so what is e being for halloween?

  19. You know I love this so much. I can totally understand your grief and the wallowing. Sometimes our Grandma's just need to give us a swift kick in the butt (or picture frame) to show us the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Love ya...Happy Halloween!

  20. Love what Suzy says: now that I think back on it: it probably was her way of comforting.

    I am just so scared of anything supernatural.

    And I remember just shutting my yapper and saying, "Okay." Move em on out.

  21. Wow, you never told me this!


  22. --You can really tell a story, girlfriend.
    Is Gamma still kicking you in the ass? x

  23. I literally felt chills, Alexandra. I totally believe you. I have heard enough stories like this to understand that sometimes departed souls need to find a way to communicate their messages to us. Had you experienced her presence anymore since that episode? Did you find you were able to move on since then?

  24. This post was awesome. Funny, true, warm and a leeetle bit unnerving. Just excellent, through and through. I've never been attune to anything remotely other-wordly, but wish I were wired that way sometimes.

  25. Sometimes we need a good whack on the bottom, and who'd know better than our grandmas, right? I would be scared as hell, but at the same time, I think I'm the kind of person who would wallow and wallow in misery until something whacks me in the head--such as this one :)

    I think your grandmother was thinking, "Enough with the tears already. Time to live it up and give me some laughters, already!"

    Thinking of you. XOXO -Sweaty-

  26. You can never get rid of that lamp!

  27. LOVE that story! After each of my grandparents passed away, I have had a vivid dream in which they have come to me to say "goodbye". I dream of each one just once and then never again. Weird, right?

  28. Dude, that really is scary. And sweet at the same time. Sometimes it's hard to miss a sign from beyond.

    Hope your kiddos had a good time last night!

  29. Just found your blog through The Pioneer Woman. I love this story. Your Grandma got her message across loud and clear. Thanks for sharing your story, in such beautiful prose. I always love a good read.

  30. You know what I want to do next year?

    I want to do posts where we've all had a brush or full on in your face, encounter with those we've loved .

    Not a link up..but a collective thing.

    Seems like there's so much of it...

    Thanks, all, for reading here.

  31. No way!!!!!!!! I went from crying with you to truly being speechless! That is crazy. I love stories like this one, but I felt your pain. I lost one grandmother a while ago. One is still living and I can't bear the thought of her not being around forever. She is 86. I'm calling her today!

  32. Sweet & Scary!!!

    Can you send your grandma's ghost to get me out of bed every morning? I think it's the only thing that will work.

    Took my son trick or treating last night and kept giggling at the thought of you giving pennies for every candy you got.

  33. Truly wonderful! I love that it happened in real life.

  34. Shakespeare, Smokey, and abuelas.

    They know what they're talking about...


  35. I would have been freaked out!

  36. Your grandmother is a badass from beyond the grave.

    Love her, love you, love the scary story.

    I would probably have wet the bed.

  37. Cool! I think it was God that spoke to you that day. A swift kick in the butt, then a big hug. It worked too! I had a similar but different experience that I'll share with you one day.

  38. HOLY COW. I'm....speechless. ... Speechless! A) totally envy you for your grandmother and your relationship with her B) LOVE the image of the Shakespeare quoting, etc. (so impressed with you!!) C) just last year heard a story from someone who had been 'in the room' that curled my hair.

    Years after my father had died, one of his good friends was nearing the end in a hospital surrounded by family. All of a sudden, the friend perked up and, staring at the foot of the bed, started talking, energetic and jovial:

    "Hey!! You look GREAT!" The family was doing all the sidelong glances at each other until someone managed: "Who're you talkin' to, Dad?"

    My father's friend had never been one to mask his irritation and looked over at the family like they were a bunch of fools:

    "Rich." (and when they didn't catch on in spite of his gestures to take a look for themselves) "Rich FLOURNOY." And then he went back to his conversation with my father: "Is that my old DOG??" Apparently, my father was only part of the team who'd showed up.

    Your posts are amazing. As real as my life.

  39. I 100% believe in ghosts. I bet it felt insane at the time.

    But on a lighter note, I love that you included a good "dude" in the post.

  40. Totally believe in this has scared me enough that I can't sleep alone tonight. Good thing I have a husband. God, I knew there was a reason I got married.

    Also, this totally makes me think of my gramma who passed away 6 years ago. She was tough as nails and helped me take care of my daughter right after I had her at the age of 19. She taught me how to feed, diaper and care for a baby. I miss her, I'm grateful for her, and I hope I can do her memory justice when I tell my daughter about her.

  41. Started and ended with some goosebumps, A. You know I love to read of your relationship to your grandmother. She's a great literary figure on her own.



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