In a normal country town in the mid-north of South Australia left of Kapunda, situated on a wide tree lined terrace is a return verandah bungalow circa late 1800's. The former residents of the home were generous country folk-hard working and welcoming. I was very close friends with their daughter Ann and her family were like a second family to my own. We had known each other for over 30 years. We shared many happy and sad times together. Prior to their occupation 2 old maids lived in the house. They had the house divided into 2 and lived in near darkness with heavy curtains at the windows. This is the era prior to WW11. They both died in the house of natural old age.
The house was originally built by a neurosurgeon (brain surgeon.) He had his operating theatre and a few hospital beds in the 3 roomed cellar. His consulting room was above ground and later turned into 2 bedrooms and a walk -in lined room at the end of the wide hall. Ann's father and brother closed off the cellar. It was accessible from the back verandah. As a child Ann remembers being allowed to play up and down the stone steps but not being permitted to go inside past the old door. She does remember seeing iron beds, pots pans and piles of paperwork. The cellar was filled in with rubble and stone. A new verandah floor was laid and the area was enclosed to incorporate the laundry and kitchen. The house was restored to it's original condition with the division from the old maids (spinsters) being removed. Ann's parents loved gardening and planted roses lawn and fruit trees. It was a town 1/2 acre block.
The room we (my husband and myself) always stayed was once the consulting room. It had 2 doors one off the main hall and the other opened onto the back lobby. There was a large cedar wardrobe in between. The small black fireplace in the corner was no longer used. The tall window opened onto a gravel court yard with an old trellis on the side fence. The room was light and airy.
Ann and I used to talk of the old house with her parents, they were easy going. We used to spend long summer days exploring vineyards and antique shops often staying up late at night laughing in the kitchen cracking crabs for supper.
Our "good life" changed and a dark cloud hung over our families. I no longer had my husband of 15 years. Ann and I still spent time together. One night I retired to my room early. It was about 2230hrs and I had not been "tasting the grape" as I was exhausted from a hectic week. I snuggled in my bed comfortably in a 1/2 kind of of sleep, 1/2 kind of awake state. Thinking and drifting. The night was warm so I laid on my back with the sheet half way up my body. My arms were on top. I did not open the window as this was the hot side of the house.
My eyes were closed I was resting and thought I could smell the heady fragrance of damask roses. There were no roses in my room. I heard footsteps in the hallway, leather healed shoes walking on wood and the swish of skirts. The door opened fully and 2 figures came into the room. They stood close to the side of my bed. The man was dressed in a dark 3 piece suit with a grey beard. He said to the woman who was dressed like a nurse, "she has done this before". Somehow I felt as if I was dreaming but I knew I was not. I could not wake up. I remember thinking I had died and prayed they would not do an autopsy. (having never died before that I could remember) I was looking over the scene from the top of the wardrobe. The woman appeared to have dark hair clear complexion about early thirty's. Black dress mid waisted long apron and up the the elbow cuff sleeves. She was holding a tall glass lamp. She said to the man (I thought to be a doctor) "what do I tell the master? He is home". The man said he would speak with him and left the room. The woman placed the lamp on the night table and leaned over me covering my face with the sheet. I could smell borax. I felt unnaturally calm. She opened the window and left the room. I could see the curtains drifting on the wooden floor with the warm breeze. The room was very tidy there was no luggage on the floor.
I woke in the early hours of the morning. The sheet was over my face and the window open. The door was open wide. (it was ajar when I went to bed) There is carpet on the hallway floor and a large floral carpet square in my room with only 2 meter edge of polished boards on the edge. No lamp was on the night table and I could smell a faint linger of damask rose-heartfelt.
I got up put on my silk robe and went to the kitchen for a drink of cool water. I felt kind of numb from the experience and had to clear my head. Get in touch with normality and fast.
Ann was in the kitchen. Restless again, this was not unusual for her as she often walked the garden at night when she could not sleep. We are both professional people with a lot of responsibility. We talked about the incident and she did not disbelieve me. She told me she often heard adult voices from the fire places and vents, they lead to the cellar. When she was home alone she felt another presence in the house. There were always rumors in the town.
I was in a vulnerable state of mind and we both fell asleep in the lounge. At lunch we discussed it with Ann's parents. They were not surprised. Being a devoted Christian family Ann's mum reminded me nothing would hurt me. They opened their hearts and their home to me. I was not afraid, I will always wonder if I was dreaming or not? Was this my imagination filling in gaps? Had this been some kind of past life experience? Had they come to warn me of the consequences of the past and/or future?
Ann has now moved far away. Her parents and brother all passed over in the same year. The home has been sold. I have driven past and seen the house painted all black with palms on the front verandah. The lawn and garden are dead. I will never forget Ann and her family, there will always be a place in my heart for them. I believe people come into your life for a reason. My life is bright and happy now. Chapters open and chapters close this is part of the rich tapestry of life.