My aunt was a very gifted psychic. She and her younger sister, my mother, had seen their share of remarkable things as children in a remote and heavily forested region of the Appalachian mountains and knew that there was more to this world than readily meets the eye. Still, out of a sort of reverence for two things--the mysterious nature of reality and the sovereign voyage of discovery that each being goes through, my mother, at least, never shared her experiences or opinions about the supernatural with her children until I had developed an interest in the matter and asked her. What happened at her elder sister's home when I was about 13, then, came as a complete shock and remembering it gives me chills to this day.
My aunt lived in a trailer on my grandfather's large farm in Athens County, Ohio. This is a quiet country area with no neighbor for a long, long way. Crickets are all you hear on lovely green summer nights. I would often stay up late with my cousin, her son, watching a movie or listening to him play guitar. We had been watching a movie that night until quite late, I recall, before we both retired. His room was at one end of the trailer, while my aunt's room was at the other end. My young sister and I were staying with her. My sister was sharing the bed with her while I had an arrangement of pillows to sleep on the floor at the foot of the bed. Between the two bedrooms was the living room, kitchen and hallway. If you know the general layout of a trailer, it is basically a long rectangle, much longer than it is wide.
I had just laid down to sleep on the floor when I heard footsteps near the kitchen along the hallway. The door to my aunt's bedroom where I lay was open so I was readily able to see that no lights had been turned on by, who I assumed must have been my cousin, as he made his way along the hallway, perhaps to the kitchen for a late night snack. Hey, it was his house, maybe he didn't need the lights to get as far as the kitchen and then perhaps have the benefit of the open fridge light to go by. The footsteps halted and then started again. They had passed the kitchen. They seemed a bit slow but continued toward us. Then the footsteps stopped quite near the entrance to the bedroom where I lay, just outside its door in the hallway. Well, the bathroom entrance was quite near there too, so perhaps that is where my cousin was walking. Suddenly a clearly adult, FEMALE voice said my aunt's name in a plaintive and forlorn manner..."Bettie", the voice slowly and lowly called. 'Did you hear that?' I asked my aunt. Maybe it was my little sister, I think she suggested. I flew from the floor it seemed to the bed where I could clearly see my 7 year old little sister sleeping soundly. The voice was not that of a 7 year old by any means but it was the only other logical possibility. Watching my sister sleeping away and not moving her mouth in the least, the slow, forlorn call was made from the hallway again..."Beh...ttie". I had observed first hand at the same time of the second calling out that it was indeed not my little sister. At this point I am lying between my aunt and my little sister, scared out of my wits when my aunt calmly asks aloud "I wonder who's trying to contact me?". I was amazed at her completely calm reaction to the whole matter. Her demeanor reassured me enough that I was able to finally fall asleep.
A month or so later when we again went to visit my aunt, she had an idea of who the voice had belonged to and the nature of their reason for contacting her. Seven years prior, my aunt's younger sister had been killed in an automobile accident. My Aunt Bettie's son, my cousin, was a great aficionado of cars - the faster the better. He was planning to buy a car which, unbeknownst to him was the same make and model as the one my aunt's younger sister had been killed in. It was her, my aunt reasoned, reaching out from beyond to issue a warning to my aunt about her son and the car. He did not buy the car as it turned out - I was never clear if my aunt had said something to him before he decided not to buy the car or if he just had not bought it without her having said anything about it. I had heard the voice of my aunt's younger sister in life, as well - she was also one of my aunts, of course, though she had passed away when I was a very young child but I had certainly never heard her in life in a slow, sad, plaintive tone of voice so - I could not say that it was or was not her in any definitive manner. I would say that it could have been her voice, yes. But I also was never 100% convinced that this had been the nature of the spirit voice's warning - it seemed awfully dramatic and remarkable of a manifestation for such a simple thing - indeed a thing that never happened (he didn't buy the car), but, I think I have to defer to my aunt on this one. Perhaps if he had, something dire was foreseen by my aunt's younger sister and she was coming to warn her about it so they could avert it. I have heard that the Tibetan Book of the Dead says that once in the spirit world, we beings are seven times more psychic than we were in life. Perhaps she had a longer view of what was to come or could have come and got my aunt's attention in time.
La Rochefoucauld wrote in his Maxims that "True love is like ghosts, many people speak of them but few have actually ever seen one". Well, I after this exerience I could definitely say that I had HEARD one. It would be a year or so later before I would see one, however, and that was to be in the Paris cemetery of Pere Lachaise.