Sunday, October 31, 2010

Footsteps From Beyond

Happy Halloween everybody!

I've decided to re-tell a true family story that happened quite a few years ago. It didn't happen on Halloween, but on another cold and winter night. When my mother first told me this story, I got chills and goose bumps all over. When you personally know the people involved in the story, it is even more bizarre, but lots of odd and unexplained things have happened in my family, so why am I really surprised by it, I don't know. 

It was a cold, rainy night, and Tia Rosa had just managed to get all of her children to sleep. Her six children were more restless that evening, so Rosa decided to stay with them and sleep in a bed beside them. She had really enjoyed being with her children that night because she was feeling lonely, more than usual. Cold and rainy evenings like these were especially hard for Rosa. She had lost her husband only a year previous, and the nights were still hard.  She felt more alone than ever when the children were feeling restless. She wondered if  they could sense her own fears and doubts.  Raising them all alone without her husband by her side was not easy, and the absence of their father was heart wrenching.

After finally kissing her children goodnight, she started reciting her rosary, softly sobbing to herself. Understandably it wasn't the first time she had done this. At the end of the each day she often felt overwhelmed with life. Her children gave her the strength to carry on during the day, but the quiet nights alone, without their chatter, were sometimes unbearable. She cried out to her husband, Francisco, like she would often do, and prayed that one day he would respond to her. Perhaps he could give her a small sign of hope that her situation would get better.  She needed to know that he was still there watching after all of them.

As she lay there upon her corn husk mattress, sobbing quietly, a strange quietness come over the loft. The soft rain that had been softly tapping on the window had suddenly stopped, and now the moon shone into the room more brightly than ever before. The familiar sound of the crickets outside also ceased. The silence is almost too over bearing.  Rosa found herself feeling an unexplainable uneasiness now.  She quickly got up from her bed to shut off the small kerosene lamp sitting on the night stand, cautiously getting back into her bed carefully trying not to wake the children. She went back to lay there, listening in the quiet, waiting for the crickets outside to continue their evening song. The sound of the crickets helped her sleep but, now there was nothing.

The sudden quiet made her steadily feel more uneasy and perplexed. She was almost tempted to wake her oldest son, to only break the silence, but at the same time, she did not want to get out of bed. A sense of foreboding seemed to surround her in the room. Had her prayers to her dead husband been heard? She wondered, and trembled with the thought under her blankets. She tried to lay there in the quiet and sleep, until finally the silence in the room was broken. Something outside had caught her attention. She could hear a noise of some kind coming from outside.

She soon realized she was hearing the sound of footsteps, coming from the mouth of the road in front of her home. They were loud footsteps and they sounded as if they were stomping intentially in the puddles of mud left by the rain. They were deliberate footsteps of someone slowing marching outside, with a distinct slight drag in its step. She could distinctly recognize the footsteps, of a man-a man with a limp, very similar to the footsteps of her late husband.

Rosa could not believe what she was hearing or thinking! She tried to dismiss her fears, and tried to think rationally. Surely, it was not her dear husband Francisco! It must be a neighbor outside coming home from work, or perhaps it was a neighbor who loved to spend a late night drinking, or may be it was a large dog, or may be again it was all in her imagination; all in her head. Then again, may be it was all a dream. Perhaps she had fallen asleep and had not realized it. Rosa tried to relax, and decided to gather her rosary beads and recite her Hail Marys to calm her mind.

The footsteps did not cease however. From the sound of them, they had finally reached the front of her house. Rosa stopped her praying and waited patiently. She waited for the footsteps to walk past her house to her neighor Isabel's door. Rosa held her breath in silence. The footsteps continued. They did not proceed to her neighbor's door, but instead, they were heading down the walk way of Rosa's house, past the small veranda, heading slowly towards the kitchen door.

Rosa continued to pray, this time more loudly than ever, her rosary beads falling from her trembling fingers, until they finally fell onto the ground. Rosa quickly made the sign of the cross on her chest, and desperately called out to the Virgin Mary. She pleaded for the footsteps to stop, until suddenly, Rosa felt paralyzed with fear. She could no longer speak, her trembling lips were open, and her voice had all escaped her.  All along her children kept asleep, as if they had fallen into a spell themselves.  Rosa fell under utter shock, as the footsteps slowly made their way to the kitchen door. The knob of the locked door turned effortlessly, and it was now in the house, in Rosa's kitchen. The door closed quitetly, and the steps continued towards the loft.

Rosa quickly surveyed the room around her. Her children were all sound asleep, their angelic faces undisturbed by what was happening around her. Rosa was terrified! She called out to the stranger, who had now made it's way up the stairs to the loft, and told him to leave her home.

"Be gone with you!" She called out. "For the love of the Holy Spirit, please leave my home!"

The footsteps continued up the stairs. Rosa then called out to her late husband.

"Francisco! If this is you, I now know you are now with me. Forgive me for doubting myself! If this is not you Francisco, please demon set out of my home! For the love of our children, please leave us all in peace!"

Rosa let out a scream, and covered herself with her blankets. The footsteps were at the door now, and they were silent. Her children were quiet, all was quiet. And suddenly, the cricket outside of her window broke the silence outside. The crickets song seemed to thunder throughout the room, to a point to where Rosa held her hands over her ears. The anxiety of the evening was too much for Rosa to bear and called out to the Virgin for protection.

Following this, the sound of the footsteps again returned, but this time, they were rescending down the stairs. Slowly, proceeding down through the kitchen, out of the door, and back into the darkness. Gasping for breath, and in relief, Rosa continued to listen to the footsteps slowly leave her home, into the night towards the dirt road towards the river, stomping away in the wet mud outside.

Since that evening, Rosa never questioned her husband's prescence ever again. Although she never knew who had actually visited her that evening, she remembered the moment of peace she had felt early that next morning; a peace she had never felt since her husband's untimely death. The kitchen door was found locked that morning, and there was no evidence left on the floor of any visitor who may have come in from the rain. It may have been all a dream, it's true, but she was never certain. It was said she loved the sound of the evening crickets outside her window, and could not sleep at night until she heard the crickets sing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to the keyboard..


It's been awhile, please forgive me.

I have been using this line quite often lately. What can I say? Life has been particularly busy lately. It's funny really.. When life seems like it can't get even better, I always hear a little voice in my head telling me, "Okay, this is too good. What is going to happen now to screw things up?" I try to tell that voice to shut up, but it has a way of forewarning me for the not so best situations. Well, all I can say right now, is life has thrown a curve ball, but things are getting better. Let's just say mom keeps our lives exciting. She is back home and doing much better, the full leg cast has been cut off and disposed of, and as of late she is sporting a much more comfortable knee brace. She won't be sporting high heels anytime soon however, but that is okay. Summer has come to an end, the "festa" lights have been dimmed, and it's time to brace for winter.

As you have noticed, I've finally changed my blog picture. Sorry Manny for keeping up your picture up so long! It wasn't my intention. Instead I've posted a picture that was sent to me by my cousin Adelaide's sweet daughter. She's the little girl sitting on the wall covering her ears. I'm wearing the red dress, with my son Andrew standing next to me. Yes, this picture is at least 12 or 13 years old, but my dad is in it, and he looks good. This was taken in 1999, the last summer we were there together. Weird how many years have passed, although it doesn't seem that long ago. I was single back then; thank God those years are over. Don't get me wrong, they weren't the worst of times by any means--they were just lonely times. After a year of being "free" and single, I decided to date again, and damn, did I meet some real losers--but, hey--that's in my past. What matters now is i'm with the right guy.

The past makes us who we are. If given the opportunity, I wouldn't change it. I love who I am today. Sure there were some missed opportunities that I should have taken perhaps. For example that one interview for a technical writer. Yeah, may be I should have taken up that. But I have a good excuse: The man who called had such a think Asian accent I couldn't understand him. He gave me the address for the interview, but I couldn't understand a word of it. That's my excuse, and I know it isn't a good one, but I didn't get a phone #. Oh well. I wanted to be travel agent back then. No, that didn't pan out either... Oh well..

Back to the picture: This was taken during the church procession in Vila Nova, Terceira at my cousin's house. It's a custom to take out your most beautiful and colorful blankets and display them out of your windows or walls and verandas when the procession passes by your home. Please note: This blankets were made in old fashioned looms back in the day when people made them by hand. These aren't the blankets people normally sleep with today-they are kept in closets and bunks and taken out only during the summer time. I'm not quite sure WHY this is a tradition there, but it's one of the customs of the island. If you happen to know, please inform me. I'm sure it has something to do with showing off your best linens out of respect. I know my mother always took pride in having the first house in her neighborhood to hang out the laundry on the close line each morning. Apparently that was a big deal in the neighborhood. People would judge you back then about how white your laundry was, and my mom was very proud of her good reputation. Times have changed, but not really. I swear that washing machine at her house back there was working 24/7.

I'm looking outside my sliding door window, and it's grey, windy and cold out there. A good day to do some laundry, pull out the blankets from the closet. A good chance and opportunity to REALLY get back to the routine!

Have a good week!