Heaven is my Home

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Ma died two years ago, S was two years old. To him, a child with a fixation with numbers, she was Nana number nine… because she lived at number nine!

And he still says it…

I had to forewarn him that tomorrow, we will be going to see his Uncle M and Aunty J.

“Ohhhh, Uncle M lives at number one, Mummy!”

I also told him that we’d be going to the “big garden” (the crematorium) to put some flowers down for Nana and Granddad.

“Nana lives at number nine, Mummy!”

He hasn’t seen his Grandmother since August 2011 but in his mind, she’s still there. Nana lives at number nine. End of.

He’s never asks when he’s going to see her again.

He never asks why he hasn’t seen her for so long.

He never talks about her except to look at her picture and say, “Nana lives at number nine doesn’t she, Mama?”

I just ruffle his hair and say nothing.

How can I tell him that she’s no longer there?

How do I explain that she died, that he’ll never see her again?

How do I talk about loss and death to a child who sees the world in a literal sense and who is still only four and a half years old?

Tomorrow we will take him to the crematorium. I’ll go through the motions of cleaning the stone and arranging the flowers. I’ll read the words engraved on the plinth, “The song has ended but the melody lingers on”.

S will have no concept that what remains of his Nana (in body) is there.

My son may be autistic but even if that’s the case, it’s wrong of me to allow him to keep connecting the word Nana with the number nine- the address of a house that belongs to someone else.

So this time, when he said, “Nana lives at number nine” with a heavy heart I said, “No, Nana doesn’t live at number nine”.

Words escaped me and I reverted to the only phrase that I know, “Nana lives in Heaven with Granddad”.

S didn’t question me, he simply carried on watching Numberjacks.

I didn’t push it either, I left it at that.

I know I probably shouldn’t have used the words “big garden”. I should use the word crematorium but the truth is that I hate the word.

Crem-a-tor-ium is such a glum sounding word. Urgh!

I know I have to talk to my child in the literal terms that he understands. I mustn’t use the word “sleep” or “rest”, it must be “died” or “dead”. “Nana was very poorly and she died”…

Heaven is a concept that he will learn because he attends a faith school. While I don’t necessarily agree with some people’s concept of God and Heaven, I do believe that we go somewhere but for now he will know of Heaven- so Heaven it is.

Ma believed in Heaven so I guess she’d approve. That’s presuming she made it through the gates. Well she did swear occasionally, mainly after a couple of gins.

Of course she made it to Heaven. God himself would have had to roll the red carpet out ready for Ma’s big entrance, and it had better have been Axminster or woe betide him!

S will never remember this wonderful lady or indeed his other Grandmother. He will never really know a Grandmothers love. I feel sad for him.

Ma loved all her Grandchildren. She loved their unique personalities. She was immensely proud of each and every one…all eight of them don’t you know! We were reminded often enough, especially at Christmas when it cost her “a bloody fortune”. She threatened it often enough but we never did have to visit her in the workhouse…

S was her “sweetpea” from the day he was born.

“How’s my sweetpea today?”, she’d shrill down the phone.

“I’ll give you sweetpea, Mother…the little bugga has done my head in today!!!” I’d sob back.

She loved him because he’s different.

He will never know her but I will make sure that he knows of her along with his other deceased Grandparents who died before he was born- his paternal Grandmother and my Dad. I intend to make up a little photo album, just for him.

But for now I need to work out how to tell him, in a way that he will understand, that Nana doesn’t live at number nine anymore.

You’re alone when you come in this world
You’re alone when you go
And it doesn’t matter who you are
It doesn’t matter who you know

Randy Newman ~ Heaven is my Home

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Spirits in the Material World

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Halloween means different things to different people. Thanks to American influence it’s evolved into the trick or treat fest that we are familiar with today. We dress our children up as evil goblins, (not that some need much help), send them out into the cold night and, a couple of hours later, they stagger back in with buckets of booty guaranteed to keep them in a hyperactive state for the next few days.

In my day Halloween was about making a Jack-o-lantern and dressing up as a ghost using one of Ma’s old bedsheets. Simple times… a cheap do! I certainly don’t recall houses being festooned with Halloween paraphernalia…

Did you know that In Somerset they practice a custom on the last Thursday of October where children walk about with their Jack-o-Lanterns? It’s known as Punkie night.  This is a new one on me – I thought punkie night was a Sid Vicious tribute act down the local pub!

Aside from treats, tricks, horror flicks – there is the spiritual side to the day what is known as ‘Halloween’.

Halloween, (Samhain), is known as the time when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. A time when we remember the souls who have passed on and, if one wishes, one can set an extra place at the table in case Great Aunt Maud drops in…. Great Aunt Maud who died in 1972 that is!

Most of us who have lost a loved one would jump at the chance to see them again though, I’ll be honest, if I looked up from eating my Spagbog to see Ma sat in the spare chair, helping herself to the Parmesan…I would most likely shit myself!

The most powerful paranormal experiences are the spontaneous ones that wake you up in the early hours and leave you in no doubt that there is some kind of existence after death. I’d like to share with you an unforgettable experience of mine.

My paternal grandmother died when I was 5 years old. Her name was Gladys. I like that name – Gladys. I can’t remember what I called her. I have vague memories of her house, especially the kitchen. I’ve been told that she was very fond of me…well of course! There’s a photograph of me wearing her shoes on the beach while she looks on, smiling. This picture, (and the one below), show me what my infant mind fails to remember.

I don’t have any recollection of her death at all. She was simply there one day and gone the next. I didn’t have any understanding of death and loss at that age.

I was given her jewellery box. It was all costume jewellery but to a five year old girl it was a box of treasure. The smell of her perfume permeated into the brooches and beads. I wish that they’d kept it for me until I was older because one by one the pieces got lost or broken. All I have left is one brooch and the box itself- which my Dad made.

I have no idea why my Grandmother would choose to visit me one December morning, six years after her death but I’m convinced that she did.

I remember being woken up by a noise in the early hours of the morning…it took my fuddled brain a few seconds to realise what it was.

I had a small Bontempi keyboard – it was battery operated and used to make a whirring noise when it was switched on and it was definitely on. Though the button was in the off position. I figured it might have been the batteries playing up so I removed them.

By then I was wide awake.

In the corner of my room was a large rocking chair that had been my Grandma’s. I was just about to get back into bed when I noticed that it was rocking back and forth.

It was December. There was no heating on, (not with thrifty Ma – I should coco!), and no windows open and the chair was moving. It wasn’t a flimsy chair, it was old fashioned, built to last rocking chair and it was rocking- by itself.

The strangest thing was that I wasn’t scared.

I should have been…

But I wasn’t.

I became aware of a smell. It was familiar and It took me a few seconds to realise that it was my Grandmother’s perfume. It was strong. The scent filled the room, as potent as if I had just sprayed it myself.

These things in themselves might have been enough to convince me of something special happening but then something happened that I will struggle to describe but I’ll have a bash.

I became filled with a feeling of such intensity that, if I trawled the entire dictionary, I’d never be able to find words to justify it. It’s like the best feeling that you’ve had in your life, ever, and magnifying it a hundred times over. It filled my entire being… I couldn’t see her, hear or touch her, but I could feel what I believe to be love in it’s purest form.

And I was smiling. I remember feeling my face aching and I realised it was because I was smiling. It was an amazing experience. I know what love feels like but this feeling was totally incomparable to anything I’ve experienced before or since.

I told Ma about the experience later that day and it turned out that it was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death.

I don’t know why she visited me that morning. There was no message. There were no words. Maybe she came because she never got to say goodbye.

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Biggest Bruv, Moi (in walking contraption) and Granma

I’ve had a lot of explanations from various sceptics over the years about this experience. In their opinion, I must have been dreaming, hallucinating or having a psychotic episode!

All of these explanations are possibilities. However, if you’ve an open mind, then you will also accept the paranormal possibility as well. What I do know is that I feel fortunate to have had this experience. It’s had a lasting effect on me and convinced me that consciousness doesn’t end with our death.

Maybe you have had a similar experience or one that’s put the heebeegeebees up you? Or maybe you think it’s all a load of codswollop…

Whatever you’re doing this Halloween, whether it’s Trick or Treating with the kids, (WEARING A COSTUME OF YOUR OWN, AHEM!), or you’re disengaging the door bell, cracking open a bottle of wine and counting how many times Yvette Fielding swears on Most Haunted…have fun!

One last thing…

You might want to leave a little something on the table for absent family members because, well, you never know…

*POOF*

*disappears in a cloud of smoke*