Wavy Alice/My Aunt
Hello. I hope you enjoy these stories. Both are true and are about deceased relatives of mine. The first, Wavy Alice was told to my sisters and I, years ago by my cousin. The second, is of a first hand experience. Although, these may not be terribly frightening, I hope after you read the first, you will have a deeper appreciation for modern day science and medicine that I think we take for granted. And as for the second story, it's one that touches me deeply and is just about love.
My mother's family lived out in the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia...very beautiful, rural areas. My Grandmother grew up on a farm, of course and was one child out of eight. They had no electricity, no indoor plumbing. Everything they ate, they grew themselves with the exception of coffee and sugar of course, which they'd have to cross a mountain to acquire. Every time the kids went out to play, they were warned of snakes and there were bears and wild cats everywhere.
The children were born in their homes and the doctor would have to travel quite far to get to them. They didn't have toothpaste or tooth brushes. They used twigs to "brush" their teeth. They made their own soap and "moon shine" and they didn't even have toilet paper. Can you imagine going about your childhood without toilet paper? I won't even go into detail about what they used.
Ailments that we have simple remedies for now, killed back then. So, with all this said, I'm sure you can see that during my Grandmother's youth, things were quite un-modernized. So, you can only imagine how life was for her parents. I'm sure by now, you can visualize what sort of medicinal and scientific knowledge those country people had back then...not much. And so, here is where this story really begins.
My Grandmother's father, was also raised out in a "hollar" and he had many siblings. He had a sister named Allison, or Alice...they called her Wavy Alice. My sisters and I were so interested in this Great Great Aunt of ours because my youngest sister resembles her so much. So, we were quite intent on hearing about her life and we also learned about her death.
At a very young age, Alice grew violently ill and supposedly died. The family was distraught, naturally. But my Great Grandfather was especially disturbed by her death.
During that time, it was custom to "sit" with the dead prior to burial. Think about it. Your sister dies and the open casket sits in your family room for a night or possibly days if the weather is bad. There were no autopsies out in the country at that time. I couldn't believe it. I had to confirm that fact with my Grandmother. When their loved ones died, they prepared the casket, made the arrangements and buried them, normally in back of a church. In those parts, it's quite common, in any particular "hollar" to find a church graveyard with a whole generation or two of people from the same family buried together. I've visited my kins'. I've seen the graves. It's fascinating, as it's part of my history but at the same time, it's always unsettling.
It was concluded in later years that Alice most likely fell into a coma. A coma that she may or may not have come out of. We of course, will never know what the outcome could have been because she was buried, in the same little cemetery that the rest of the family is buried in. And sadly, she was probably buried alive.
Years after her death, my Great Grandfather revealed the reasons why her death was so disturbing to him. As a child, he of course, dismissed his fears as mere imagination. However, as an adult, he had second thoughts. When he said his goodbyes to his sister, he noticed that her cheeks were still a bit pink and he didn't feel that she was as rigid as she should be. But those two things could again be written off as a sorrowful mind's tricks. The sad and horrifying image, forever engraved in my Great Grandfather's heart, is the image of his sister's head, rolling slightly from side to side...as if in eternal protest.
My Aunt June was my hero. I have not one single foul memory of her. She was my Nana's sister...beautiful, vivacious and she loved me as if I was one of her own grandchildren. And so, I think that's why I adored her so. I always sensed her adoration for me, even at four years old.
The sisters lived on the same street. My Nana's house was in the center of the street, my Aunt June had the corner house. Their little chihuahuas were even siblings. My Nana kept me when I was very young and we'd go visit Aunt June every day.
My most vivid memories of her are kind of silly, but still...they're my memories. Remember those terry cloth short/jumpers from the eighties? She had so many of those. I remember she wore those in the summer and she smoked so she had this slight rasp to her voice but I thought it was beautiful. She'd get down on her knees when she saw me coming down the side walk and she'd embrace me, saying "Well, hi there." each and every time I saw her. I even remember her perfume. I loved her so much. For so many reasons.
She died when I was five years old. And I although I didn't understand death, I felt such a sense of loss and pain because I knew that Aunt June would never be on the corner to meet me again.
At five, I didn't know about all the uglies in this world...alcohol addiction, depression...sibling rivalry. Her death was pronounced as either a suicide or an accidental suicide. I don't know which because to this day, no one will really talk about it. I've always hoped that it was accidental as the thought of her deliberately killing herself haunts me.
I lived in an apartment for five years before my husband and I moved into our first house and ironically, she's buried off of the same road that I lived on. I've visited her grave many times.
There were a few occasions in the apartment where my cats would stare at the corner. And it would get really cold. And after not thinking about her for years, I'd think...it's her. It's really her. This happened quite a bit in that apartment.
One summer night, while my husband and I were sleeping, I woke up out the blue feeling cold. I looked over at the window beside my bed and the blinds moved...as if someone took their fingers and moved up and down the blinds. I sat up in bed and just watched. I wasn't afraid, just intrigued.
I called out "Hi Aunt June" into my bedroom and then I was kissed goodnight by cold, invisible lips.
I haven't experienced anything like that since. I've named my daughter after her in tribute. Even in death, I don't think we stop loving. And I think she knows that I love her still.