Talking to Dead People

Hallowe’en is the absolute entry point to the dark time of the year. As such, Hallowe’en is celebrated by dark things– witches’ potions, rattling bones, haunted houses, jack-o-lanterns, and scary stories. This is the time to commune with the Dead. Gaelic traditions include inviting your beloved dead family members to join you at the table. I’ll admit to placing photographs on the table with my pumpkins and candy corn, and honoring my family members by telling stories about them, but I’ve drawn the line at talking to dead people. This is something I am attempting to change.

“Why?” you might ask. Well, when I was in New Orleans this year, I decided to have a tarot reading. During the session, the reader asked me if I conversed with my dead relations. I said no. She seemed surprised by this (I guess it is de rigueur for her!). I told her that I was scared of dead people. This made her laugh. She agreed that death does not make a person any less fallible (as in, this isn’t like talking to God), but she encouraged me to give it a try. She explained that there are dead people who care about me and who can assist me from the Other Side.

OK.

So, six months later I am home. Bemused, I find myself well-positioned for a promotion as a medical librarian at a facility where my maternal grandfather (who died nearly twenty years before my birth) was a medical intern. I never envisioned myself as a medical librarian. I had more than a dozen years’ experience working in public libraries. But, last year I needed a job. I was relocating and looking at any librarian job within a reasonable commuting distance. This is the job that I was offered. And now there is an opportunity for a promotion.

My grandfather holding my mother, with my uncle alongside in 1939.
My grandfather holding my mother, with my uncle alongside in 1939.

Yes, I’ve been working outside of my comfort zone. For months I felt completely inept. I do count my blessings that I managed to find a job during such a crappy time for our economy. So, I entertain the idea that my grandfather, who never made it to a grandfatherly age, exerted some influence in order to secure me a position. Also likely– the idea that my grandmother, who focused intensely on her family needs for decades, exerted her influence on my grandfather.

My grandmother at a summer party in 1985.
My grandmother at a summer party in 1985.

I have tentatively approached my paternal grandfather, who died when I was three. I was the first grandchild, and family lore has it that he just flipped over me. I’ve asked him to help get me in a position wherein I can provide for my kids’ college expenses. I know that is a cause that he could get behind. And my Nana? She’s my constant inspiration for moving on when it is time to move on.

My mother, Nana, and F.G. holding me in their home in 1961.
My mother, Nana, and F.G. holding me in their home in 1961.

Lastly, I do think of my maternal great-grandmother. I do homage to her for all that she endured to love and raise her family. And, to scare the bejesus out of them. Grandma told us that her mother would tell them ghost stories, and then go outside with a sheet over her head and rap on the windows.

My great grandmother holding me in my grandmother's kitchen in 1961.
My great grandmother holding me in my grandmother’s kitchen in 1961.

Now, there’s a Hallowe’en goddess for you!

Author: Margot M

I make my home in Western Massachusetts with my husband Ed. We are natives of Massachusetts with allegiances to North Carolina, where we spent the first four years of our marriage. We have four grown children (two are his, two are mine) and a young grandson. We are excited to see what adventures await us all.