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Grandma's Still Watching Over Me

Ben, NSW, Australia
April 2004

Back quite a few years ago ( I think it must have been '86 or '87 from memory) I woke up with the distinct feeling that my grandmother had passed away. There was no way for me to have known one way or the other, as I lived in Sydney and she lived in Ballina (about 800km away) and although she had been slightly ill previously, and was in her 80s, she hadn't given any indication that she wasn't long for this world. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I came down the stairs from my bedroom to be confronted by my mother with the sad news that my grandmother had indeed passed away overnight. This wasn't as hard for Mum to tell me as it might have been, because it was my paternal grandmother, and therefore her mother in law rather than her mother.

I had a hard time for a while convincing Mum and Dad that I should have some time off school to travel up to Ballina to attend grandma's funeral. She hadn't been to Sydney that many times, and we really only used to see her once a year at Christmas time. I think they thought that there wasn't that much of a bond there. Anyway the whole family (including uncles and aunts and various others) made our way to Ballina for the occasion. Quite a few relatives were already there, as most had either stayed in Ballina (where the family had been based since about the 1940s), or had gone back there to live.

I think it was either the day before, or possibly the day of the funeral, when one of my aunts (one of my grandma's daughters in law) decided that she'd have a look through grandma's room. To give a bit of background, this was the daughter in law that my grandma either didn't like or didn't approve of. She went so far as to actually go into the wardrobe and try on one of grandma's dresses. She had barely said the words "that's not Peg's" (obviously grandma's name), when the light fitting came falling from the ceiling, missing my aunt by mere centimeters. Not only did it narrowly miss her, but against all odds the light bulb survived the fall (whilst other parts of the glass light fitting shattered).

The funeral went off without a hitch, and naturally enough for a large catholic family there was a large wake that went on until quite late that night. Grandma had left the house to "the family", this was a very loose fitting explanation of what she wanted, as she had had 10 kids, and they had all had kids, and some of them had kids etc. I think the gist of it was that she wanted family to be able to visit from Sydney or wherever and be able to stay in the house during their stay. Dad felt quite attached to the house (as I'm sure some of his siblings did), as he'd grown up there, and part of him still feels that it it home (even though he hasn't lived in Ballina since the 60s).

At any rate time went on. One of my cousins moved into the house for a while then moved into the house next door, which he and his brother had purchased.

About 3 or 4 years passed. People moved in and out of the house over time, they were either tenants, family or friends of the family. I decided it was about time that I visited my relatives in Ballina, and as the house was empty at the time, I was offered my grandma's old house to sleep in overnight. I was glad to be offered the traditional family home. The family had actually been there so long that the back lane was now named after us. I'd had a few beers with one of my cousins next door, and might even have consumed some weed that night (pretty common in northern NSW). Anyway, I had the house to myself, and I was dog tired. Being from Sydney, I made a point of switching all the lights on, checking everything was okay, then locking up. I also made sure that I switched off all the lights before retiring for the night.

I'd like to say that I saw my grandma and had a conversation with her that night, or something of that nature, but the truth is quite a bit more mundane. Upon waking in the morning, I found that several lights were switched on. I was positive that I had switched them all off, and there was no one else in the house at the time, nor had anyone been in whilst I was asleep. I also found that the back door, which I had been most careful to make sure was locked, was in fact now unlocked. I had likewise made sure the front was locked the night before, but the front was still locked.

Although my cousins were living in the house next door at the time, I am certain that they were not playing tricks on me. They are quite a bit older than me (I was either in my late teens or early 20s at the time) and quite past pulling a prank on their cousin from the city. Not only that, but their Dad (my uncle, and one of grandma's son's) lives in a shed out the back behind the house, and next door to my cousins, and he would have known if something was amiss. He also is one to not go for practical jokes, and cried the hardest and longest when grandma died, and therefore, wouldn't pull a prank that would imply his mother sending a message from the grave.

Ben, NSW, Australia
00:00 / 01:04
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