The sight of the young man singing will take her breath away.
From my dreams
What the sinful man is afraid of will come upon him, and what is wanted by the man who is right with God will be given to him.
Father Ritter’s men seldom do insinuate the offering of women on the alter, cloaked in white garments while their altars are stained red…In keeping with ghosts of the past one has to acknowledge the present state…Incindiary advise…pelted at you like bullets of rain.
Holy Dead Aunt Hattie
You are his worst nightmare, all grown up.
Holy Dead Aunt Tonia
I know this will sound like subtle boasting, perhaps I am also unintentionally stealing a Dean Koontz cliché, and I know when people say they don’t mean to boast – they usually mean to boast. However, it’s difficult when the dead talk to you, and you hear things in the night that make you not paranoid but, well… equipped with something to say.
In my defense, I have a solid habit of making true statements.
And I defend myself and clarify the adjectives to describe myself (“not paranoid”) with purpose.
As a long time mental health advocate (and former caretaker for a mother with schizophrenia) I am well aware of how easily the unstable can fall into boastful, grandiose delusion. I have said this so many times I believe it’s time for me to invent a new acronym: ALTMHA. ALTMHA, I am also well aware of how many will use instability’s opposite – intellectual and emotional insight – to label the highly sensitive and those who are dangerously sane, as paranoid. It’s as natural as guilty prelates calling the children they’ve confessed “imaginative.”
Dangerously sane… All those dangerously sane children.
They’re the ones we should be “worried about”, right?
Harrumph. What will the children think up next?
I use the description “dangerously sane” once again – intentionally – but not because I’m paranoid, over imaginative, prone to the same delusions of personal infallibility that haunt my mother, or because I believe it is me who is in any real “danger”.
I use it simply because I am intelligent and aware enough (sane enough) to understand who “doesn’t like what I write about” or who thinks my dreams “are misleading” and why. People who write about things that others find uncomfortable will not be very popular, or get the most “likes” on Facebook. But these kinds of badges of social acceptance don’t interest me anyway.
Sometimes I simply wake up in the morning happy, after some deep sleep more interesting to me than any book ever written (save the Holy Bible) and feel compelled to share silent words, the flash of imagery, a quick understanding or two, before memory fades as the morning gets old. I think of my blog and the convenient-ness and delight I take in it, coupled with a fresh cup of french pressed coffee in a favorite mug sitting right beside me, upon my father’s old military desk. I am drawn to that desk more than I am drawn to the even nicer one he owned.
Which is odd, because that bigger desk has neat little, cubby hole compartments, beneath a roll top cover, like little rooms stacked one upon the other in high-rise rise fashion, in which my dolls could have played had my dad owned that desk when I was still a child. Perhaps I favor this more simple desk because this is where I seem to recall my father writing his own memoirs, when we lived at West Point.
I remember my brother in those days, just three years older than I, composing music on the piano so beautiful it could have themed Gladiator, Moses or Titanic. But somehow those notes stopped playing and my brother, the brother I remember, disappeared into a world with the rest who seem to no longer value the same things I do.
Truth, meaning, personal integrity, courage and justice.
This desk is dark mahogany, in front of a large expanse of bright window, cleared of all of Mother’s old, heavy curtains, to expose the view. Now, it has become cheery in here.
Nonetheless, sometimes I’d rather shoot myself in the head than relay the dream I had the night before, transmitting silent messages that I find fascinating into social media format, subjecting them to a culture that suffers from its own form of self imposed cognitive dissonance. I may be a loose canon, a liability, a free agent, and beholden to none.
But I am not suicidal.
Hold on… let me explain that.
I love life, and I love my own life in particular, the ebb and flow of it (despite its difficulties) so I am not going to shoot myself in the head (probably to the dismay of my many, would be silencers). I love my desk, the amply filled coffee cup, and the deer who sometimes linger on the lawn outside my window, as if to distract me in a charming sort of way. But it feels “suicidal” at times to reveal something you know others do not want to hear and will twist, in any attempt to use against you.
Besides, as Mother said (in a squirrelly, confabulatory kind of way) at her mental hygiene petition (not that it necessarily follows normal laws of reasoning) “I don’t even keep a gun in the house.”
Anyhow, I digress.
There are times when I actually refrain from writing.
Like the time Aunt Hattie’s message contained unsettling criticism of a particular family member that I had heretofore trusted.
Until that night, I didn’t suspect the person of whom she spoke, my female cousin, could be intentionally culpable of a serious, single transgression. And who am I to interpret dreams, even that of my own? But yet, I wasn’t interpreting. I was just hearing. So, I think my hesitancy to publish Aunt Hattie’s suddenly extremely articulate verbal lacerations of certain family members was mostly due to shock.
”…she never lets them grow up like her mother did…victim’s a bitch smacker this time around…”
“God Almighty has a problem with faggots like his father. They bundle sticks to tie them in a knot… called me, it was a joke. I said, how do you like me now…”
And about my mother, who:
“courted disaster in the wake of my demise like a french hen caught in the noose.”
I had asked Aunt Hattie then, half asleep, admittedly more than ready to write down any answer, thinking I could try to figure it out later “but I want to find out who I am.”
“You will…It’s written in your genes…you were meant to do this.”
I had never before experienced Aunt Hattie express righteous anger so well, so…articulately. Plus, because the victim of the ethics violation which implicated the cousin did not want to realize his lot, there seemed to be no point in publishing any possible “communications” regarding it. In retrospect, I believe we in society are guilty of a serious transgression of ethics when we underestimate the value and goodness of righteous anger, as if the holy dead would never entertain it because they are at “peace” now, immune to “gossip” and all things of this world, or something like that.
Sadly, Aunt Hattie (even in this life) was often dismissed by “nicer” sounding relatives, who interpreted her words (especially if they implicated themselves of fault) as idle “gossip”, because she was not as intelligent as they were. As a child, Aunt Hattie had had a high fever that left her not retarded, but very unique, and not hindered by such standards of “politeness”.
In a certain sense, she was always a child.
Look Mommy, do you see that? The emperor’s not wearing any clothes.
As an adult (when I had become a young adult) Aunt Hattie was the only relative who had the boldness to tell me any of the truth regarding my mother. I remember her righteous anger then that my mother was going around cloaking herself in religiosity, while imposing her own guilt on others, and particularly upon me. It grieves me now that I dismissed Aunt Hattie’s brave attempt to warn me of truthful facts that were my birthright to know – as idle nonsense, “gossip”, or talking “bad” about someone behind their back.
Good Lord, I was so brainwashed back then.
I think Holy Dead Aunt Hattie has forgiven me my I don’t want to know attitude of the past however, because she ended her night transmission with “See ya in heaven, Judy” and “I love you”.
God has righteous anger, and He is at peace. Why therefore, I ask, would not a value of God, this value of righteous anger, continue to exist in Heaven, while we, trapped in time, continue to offend, and commit injustices against one another?
Gossip is not gossip if it is the truth, and withholding of information one has a right to know, is a lie.
Do the just not care about justice on earth anymore – simply because they inherit Heaven?
On the contrary, the dead care about us and they care about justice. They visit those with a sixth sense to reveal where their bodies and evidence lay hidden, expose or chastise those who committed crimes, ask for prayers, or give guidance to those that they continue to love. They will talk to those who are willing to listen, and to those who have the ears to understand. The holy dead are much more grounded in the values of the earth that last forever – than they are literally grounded in the earth.
Revelation, for us humans, is therefore by definition an acquired taste.
Yes, it’s always freeing, and ultimately joyful, but revelation is the path we didn’t see, like a shadow ever present, creeping up upon us from behind. It is a path now untangled, yes, but one in which we have to stop, step aside, and turn around to see, because we missed it the first time around, for all those trees in the way – in truth, a chilling realization. To experience a realization or a revelation, it often feels more like the sensation of deja vous, right before noticing what has been right before our faces all along. Part of us, our misconceptions, have to die before we can behold it. Truth is a constant, infinite, multi layered reality, evil cannot create anything new, and grounded reality is driven vertically like a spike through all folds, rather than a crossbeam of our temporary, horizontal, time limited and often unaware existence.
Though I could not have made up Hattie’s transmission to me from my own fevered imagination (I’m not THAT creative) I realize in retrospect, that Aunt Hattie of course would be angry that her house, which she had always intended to leave to “the boys” (grown men now) was instead shuffled to the very man who had abused her favorite niece, now Holy Dead Aunt Tonia, for investment profit.
Indeed, the proper recipient of the house – by verbal will – acquiesced to the theft of his own property and this grotesque injustice against him (he revealed this unknowingly) because correct legal information regarding remaining bills of the deceased and exemption for inhabitants who inherit, was withheld from him by the rationalizing, clever thief and my female cousin who defended the thief. The victim (who once even owned his own business) simply returned to a life of abusive, familial bondage. See the thief was too familiar to be recognized as a thief. The thief was his father. The injustice, still is.
As Jon Stewart said, fatherhood is great because you can ruin someone from scratch.
But I think one of the biggest revelations I’ve had through all of this, is that much of my family is more concerned about saving properties, than helping to save the persons within them, even if the savee is one’s own flesh and blood.
So, as my last beloved aunt on that side of the family lays dying this morning, in a nursing home nestled in that northeastern Pennyslvania hometown stacked with more memories than rooms in a cubby hole desk, I feel compelled once again to write, and I will not resist the urge this time.
Yea, I even indulge in banana liqueur this morning, swirling it guiltlessly and effortlessly into my coffee. I notice the way the patterns in the cup and on the cup resemble wood grain, and I like that. I do not write because the executor of this aunt’s estate is the very relative disparaged by Aunt Hattie’s shocking post mortem dispatch, or because I care what Aunt Millie has “left”, or to whom she has left it. I write because the impending death of Aunt Millie has simply brought to mind the words of her pre deceased husband, Uncle Frank, who also seemed to speak to me from the grave, a long time ago.
I remember during the time period I heard from him, I would pray to God before bed that my deceased father would be allowed to tell me the secrets withheld from me by the rest of the family, that were my birthright to know.
My father had been rendered unable to communicate by a stroke, and his inability to speak, despite desperate attempts to communicate things to me, lasted for many years before his eventual suffocation and death from lung cancer. My father hasn’t stopped speaking to me ever since his death (“Johnny will say to me please, Raymond will say thank you, and David will sleep better at night”) but one night, asking for my father, I instead heard fragments of information, language, and words, silently, that seemed to issue from Millie’s husband, my beloved godfather, Uncle Frank.
But before I repeat his words, which I had scribbled dutifully in the usual fashion into waiting tablet beside the bed, let me tell my reader more about Millie.
Millie and Frank were there my whole life. I remember as a child, my Aunt Millie, through her generous love and positive nature, teaching me that I was a true princess, as a daughter of Christ. She was a believer in all the old ways and the existence of an unchanging Truth. Her only naivety seemed to be an inability to perceive clerics and her own family could betray these principles. She was there riding shot gun when I drove up and down the coast, seeking help for my own aging mother, her sister, who was accelerating dangerously with now untreated schizophrenia, and starting to side with her demons against me. Aunt Millie was there for me and for my own mother, even after my mother picked up her four-footed walker during one psychotic episode. This had sent Millie flying backwards into a free fall that could have easily cost Millie her life, had she not grabbed hold of the door. Millie’s only “sin” against her had been defending me and my grown daughter.
Yes, Millie could not have any children of her own, like my mother did, but had been a real mother to many.
However, towards the end of her life I thought Millie behaved as if she feared there was something else she would not wish to know, for it was so horrible if she realized it, it would kill her.
She seemed to choose instead the burden of other people’s guilt, carrying it along with her like a badge of courage upon her back, but her angst bubbled out in the form of multiple anxieties.
About a week ago when I visited her in the nursing home, unable to rouse herself fully from the heavy sedation of morphine for bowel and pancreatic cancer, she begged incoherently “No more signs! No more signs!”. Even though we had never used the word “signs” between us, nor was I sure of what or to whom she spoke, I grieved for her in her suffering, and tried to console her.
“Okay, no more signs” I told her.” I love you.”
“Wake her up…wake her up!” she urged.
“I can’t… can’t even(say how much I?)…
And in a world where white is called black , and black is called white, where good is called evil and evil is called good, my mother, her sister and the woman who assaulted her without apology, will ride in the first car at the funeral procession like royal lineage to a throne, with my brother, the Manchurian Candidate styled accomplice, riding shot gun at her side.
I had to gather the old bedside notes to find her deceased husband Frank’s words, to relay them here, and I admit the banana flavored coffee and morning attempts at writing faded into an evening spent, rather melancholy, rummaging through old scribblings. Eventually though, I was able to isolate the words regarding Frank for which I had been looking.
[ female voice?] Uncle Frank is dying!
I was angry at what they had done to you
Millie spoke of it like a distant (plague/pain?)
It was at our house
the rooms were congealed with it
the guilt against the faith
hush now became her favorite refrain
like a ring around my neck
but I loved her
like a just man does his wife
peace be to you
said the blind man
it’s all the same with me
but victim’s watch
will not contend
with the man upon the tree
making a mistake
when the others
see what they want to anyway
playing games with the victim’s daughter
like bullets in the rain
does not weep
It stands at a distance
watching the shore
wrinkles in time erase old wounds
before they are healed properly
Please wake up
for God’s sake family
before Millie dies
in her disgrace
It was never hers to keep
in the first place.
Christmas is coming
and the Man upstairs
wants to say hi
let me out of here
[at one point I asked him if he loved me]
Remember the train?
Do you think I did?
[oh how I remembered the train]
I set the papers aside.
It is close to midnight and I am exhausted, giving in to the heady need to sleep that overtakes me now, even though I am still sitting in a downstairs chair. I awake all of a sudden, startled in a happy kind of way at the sudden realization of roses, as if someone slipped into my sitting room, placing red roses in generous abundance all about the room and placing them by my feet, where I had remained in the chair sleeping. The fragrance is so real and so lasting, I am more startled that I cannot actually see the roses, when I open my eyes.
Thank you, Aunt Millie, I say. Thank you. I don’t even have the words to say how much I love you. Rest in the peace and the joy of heaven. I write down the time, 3:20 a.m., March 21, 2017, and as I do so I have the strangest sense of deja vous. It is as if I already knew it would happen this way, and Aunt Millie’s death, happening this way, was part of a tale I had told my father a long time ago, when I returned from the dead as a baby, to help save my mother’s soul.
They had found my Aunt Millie stopped breathing when the nurses walked in at 11:20 pm, the night before.