This account was partially extruded from an entry written in my mother's diary in 1973 when my mother was 14 years of age. It was her sixth entry to do with the paranormal in her expansive collection of macabre recollections. Some of this is also taken from the less well preserved depths of my own memory.
This story covers the final visits my grandparents on my mother's side paid to the family (Some of you may remember my story about my grandfather's ghost on my father's side).
In 1973 my grandmother died of cancer of the ovaries in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. The emotional impact of her death on her immediate family was proportionate to dropping a bomb; she was described by many family members as the "glue which holds the family together." My mother, who was only 14, was devastated and she became the 'mother' to her one year old sibling.
My mother found out about the death in an incredible fashion. It was traditional at that time that the children were not informed of anything serious because children were not considered fit to hear about 'adult' issues, so as a result my mother was not in possession of the knowledge that her mother was terminally ill.
On the day of her mother's death, she was tending to the needs of baby sister while her father was at work when an "odd cold appeared even though there was no wind..." Footsteps of heavy soled boots were heard thudding steadily on the rough paving which encircled the small council house where they lived. This was a common sound to her since her mother frequently wore the practical shoes. Even though my mother was unaware of the fatality of the cancer she knew she was in hospital; she investigated and saw her mother walking by the front of the house. "There she was, completely normal with her usual dour look on her face as she walked with those boots across the front of the house."
Simultaneously to this, the telephone chimed and she jumped in surprise of the noise which was emanating out of the open window and her mother had vanished. The phone call told of her mother's death.
My mother then phoned another close relative to pass on the dreary news; it was her aunt, her mother's sister. "I phoned Auntie Mary while drying my eyes because I had been crying so much. She answered and I said the mummy was dead and auntie replied, 'I know I saw her at my kitchen window.'"
This section of the story has pieces of my own recollections in them: It was 2003 and I was 11 years old. My grandfather was terminally ill with bowel cancer. I was contacted one day at my school and was informed that he had quietly passed on in his sleep. I was collected and hastily transported to the Causeway Hospital in Colerain to meet the family and see my dead macabre corpse. The usual ceremonies of a death were conducted; arranging funeral directors etc. The body was taken for the funeral preparations while we were left with the task of driving home and dealing with our shock and crushing grief. Since my entire immediate family was over, my two brothers and their wives, my mother and father and my aunt and her daughter, we had to take two vehicles. I was in the vehicle with my brothers and sisters in law and we were visited by a strange blurred presence which only I could see which sat on the seat beside me; half inside my brother who was shifting uncomfortably and saw nothing. It was not completely clear but I saw it was my grandfather and it was sitting in the place in the car he always sat. The apparition vanished after a short while. I considered myself honoured.
Meanwhile in my mother's car; I will let her words do the talking: "A smell appeared and I recognized it, it was TCP which was daddy's smell, he always smelled of it. Pamela (my cousin) panicked because she also sensed it, it was not an ordinary smell but it had the chill which comes all the time when things like this happen and we all felt him and I started to cry."
TCP is an antiseptic which he used to sterilize his false teeth so it was what he always smelled of.
Even death cannot stop people who loved us saying goodbye.