That title is a bit misleading, as this is about the summer I met my 4 x great Aunt and happened long before she played games with my computer; but I'm hoping it helps flag out the correlation of the two. Not so much for the readers of this, but for Aunt Sylvie. I know that reads rather awkward, but if you've read part one and the comments it might make sense to you.
Aunt Sylvie was the kind of woman that my mother's generation and those before whispered about. Being a witch wasn't exactly socially acceptable. As, quite a few of us know first hand, when you display certain abilities (seeing spirits, hearing voices,'knowing' things, and the like) outside the realm of 'natural and normal', it generally freaks people out. It also doesn't seem to matter that all you've ever used these things for is good, you're automatically somehow in league with the Devil, himself. That might seem a bit funny to us now, but some folks still hold to that.
I remember when I first heard that Aunt Sylvie was a witch. Not hinted at, mind you, but flat out told so. I think I was about 11 or 12, now and then I'd ask my Mom if certain things really existed, like ghosts, fairies, vampires, werewolves - typical kid wondering. I had asked if witches were real, and my Mom got such a look on her face, lowered her head and said, real low (as if scared someone would hear),"Yes they are. Aunt Sylvie's a witch." Then in a gush, as if it was something she'd wanted to say for a long time, "I know it for a fact. I've seen her do witchly things." She then told me of two instances, one was seeing Aunt Sylvie move furniture without touching it and the other was her causing stones to rain down on some boys harassing a crippled man.
Five years (or so) later, I'm not sure what I expected to see as I walked up to Aunt Sylvie's porch in the company of my Aunt C. Prior to that summer, my knowledge of witches was limited to the Wizard of Oz, and stories like Hansel and Gretel. Neither of which paints them in a favorable light for the most part. Then you had Hollywood's stereo typical 'witch' - always bad, and the stories told by either campfire or flashlight of wicked witches and their ways. I guess I almost expected a stooped over old crone, with a hooked nose and wart, dressed in black with a black cat circling her legs.
She was stooped with age, and leaned on a cane for balance, and with the exception of a black cat sunning itself on the porch, that's where the resemblance ended. Her dress was a simple, faded pattern, with a cardigan over her shoulders, and she wore orthopedic shoes. Her white hair, despite being braided and coiled atop her head, had the effect of being a small cloud, giving an almost halo effect. Her face was that of antiquity itself, with all the lines and wrinkles that come from living. She barely greeted my Aunt before saying "Ruthie's daughter!" and folding me into an embrace that was surprisingly strong, while saying she hoped we were hungry as she'd made a special lunch with us in mind. I looked at Aunt C over Aunt Sylvie's shoulder. She shrugged. The thing was, Aunt Sylvie had no way of knowing we were coming - she didn't have a phone, and she had never met me.
Inside the small house was a wonderment - almost like a museum. Heavy Victorian (some perhaps earlier) furniture, strategically placed to be at its best advantage, with a life time of curios sitting about, interspersed with photographs and tintypes from bygone days. An old Victrola sat in a corner, its horn etched with flowers, it was one of the prettiest things I've ever seen.
Most of the early part of the visit was uneventful, with Aunt Sylvie patting my arm often, and telling Aunt C, "It's like Ruthie's come back to us. Smaller, a bit fairer but still Ruthie" and them telling family gossip present and past. After a bit Aunt C said it was time to go as she still had errands to run. I'm not sure how it came about, but they decided I'd stay, and she'd collect me on the way back that evening. That's when things got - interesting.
There was a woman (I've forgotten her name) who's role seemed to be a cross between housekeeper/caregiver/companion, who periodically showed up in the parlor where we sat, basically to see if we needed anything. Aunt Sylvie had just asked for more coffee to be brought and lit a cigarette. The woman clucked and said, something like, "Now, Ms. Sylvie, you know them things are bad for you." Aunt Sylvie's response made me chuckle inwardly. "Coffee's bad for me. Smoking is bad for me. Most of everything I've done for the majority of my life is bad for me. Don't you ever think maybe they're part of why I've lived so long? Don't you have some program to watch?" The woman rolled her eyes, winked at me, said, "Yes'm" and left us. To me Aunt Sylvie said something about folks meaning well, but not really knowing poop about life. "Everyday she's watches dramas on this little box she brings with," took me a second to realize she meant a portable TV," when all you've got to do is go out there," she waved towards the door, "and you can experience the real deal, and if you learn to embrace the gifts you have life can be very interesting."
She wanted to know what family had said about her, and I stammered around it. Given her age and all, I didn't think she'd exactly take being called a witch a compliment, and I had no wish to offend or hurt her. I was rather enjoying her. She patted my hand, "Ruthie told you I'm a witch a while back didn't she?" I nodded and she laughed softly. Her laugh tinkled like wind chimes," Guess that's as good a label as any."
She nodded towards my cup, "More coffee?" I nodded, and she said 'watch', and watch I did, as the ceramic (China?) pot rose and poured itself.
"Scared me silly, when I first realized I could do that - move things without touching them. Took a while for me to learn to control it. For awhile we thought we had a poltergeist in the house! And then, I began to sort things out for myself, what I could and could not do. Some were natural as breathing for me. Like just 'knowing' things," she took both of my hands in hers, "That sort of being 'different', it can be hurtful, because others don't understand. They think you're crazy or lying at first, and when it comes to pass they act like you're something not human." She squeezed my hands, "That's because they don't understand, so they're scared. And sometimes they're just afraid of what you might know about them. If it is there for you to know, it is because it is yours to know. There is a reason for everything. Just never allow anyone to convince you that it somehow makes you less deserving of life or love or use what you learn to cause harm." She then continued on to tell me about how some things she learned like spell casting, and herbal medicines, and how all magic is the same, it just depended on its intent when used, with her giving me small demonstrations here and there (as if the pouring pot hadn't been proof enough for me!). Although, I think she rather enjoyed showing off for someone who wasn't going to faint or run screaming from the room, and reliving some of her paranormal adventures. I understood without being told, this was an act of trust and not something I was to banter about. She also told me things about myself.
Outside a crow's cawing could be heard, Aunt Sylvie tilted her head as if listening to it, "You're Aunt will be here in about 5 minutes."
Half in jest, I asked if the crow told her that. She said, "Animals speak, if you know how to listen." Sure enough, Aunt C pulled up within 5 minutes.
I never saw Aunt Sylvie again, at least not living. I followed the advise she'd given me to return to Illinois to be close to Mom, who would be needing me. She told me, that truth would be given to my father's lie. Sure enough after over a year of being homeless, a friend of mine was in a bind and needed a live in sitter. (My father had hidden the fact that he had thrown me out, from my mother by saying I'd gone to live with a friend.) Even my Aunt C hadn't known my situation when I showed up at her house.
We corresponded for a year or so, when word was sent that she'd passed on. Her companion was kind enough to enclose one of the few known pictures of her. Evidently she had an aversion to having her picture taken, as it is a very old picture. So old, it makes me wonder if it's really her, although I can see her in that young face. You see, from the mode of dress, and hair style, the picture seems to be from circa 1860. Which would have made her approximately 130 when I met her. Do even witches live that long?