Month: March 2016


Aside Posted on Updated on

It was in this bedroom one freezing November night that I saw what I took to be an angel.  Mum always left the landing light on and the bedroom door open just a crack so that it shone in, but I loved the dark. There is something of the spirit in the still, velvet blackness. Now that I didn’t have to share with my brother I was free to shut the door tight, lie back and just be me. I was beginning to relax, my icy feet thawing beneath the covers when a silent flash bathed the tiny room in a golden light. At the centre of the light, just in front of my wardrobe was a pretty young woman with blonde shoulder length hair and clothes that twinkled silver. I could look right at her without being dazzled. No wings. Maybe not an angel after all? (The ones on the Christmas cards always had wings). Her face was kind and she smiled at me for some time before she spoke.

“I’m your sister.” She paused then added, “Patricia”.

She was a sweet looking lady but she was obviously mistaken. I ventured to correct her.

“I am very sorry but I haven’t got a sister called Patricia. I have got two sisters called Helen and Annette and a brother. My name is David.”

Her knowing smile widened and suddenly the room was dark again.

The next morning I dawdled downstairs following the chatter to find Tim at the breakfast table, already writing his name in golden syrup on his porridge and mum warming my shirt by the oven. I had just begun my own signature when I remembered my night time visitor. Mum stood behind me, busy at the cooker.

“Last night when I was going to sleep I saw a lady who said she was my sister.” I took a mouthful. “She wasn’t like the others. She looked like an angel. Her name was Patricia.”

Tim, who had been disinterested in my story up to now, was suddenly looking over my shoulder at the back of our mother’s head, spoon poised. I turned in my seat. Her shoulders were shaking. Surely she wasn’t crying? Mum was a strong woman. She had to be. Life had not been easy for her. The death of her own mother saw her running the family home, looking after her dad and siblings at age fourteen. My own father had led her a dance, spending more time and money in the pub than on the family. She was rock solid no matter what, but now I had upset her and the foundations were unexpectedly crumbling around us. She took a tea towel from the counter, sank into her chair by the fire and sobbed like her heart would break.

Tears began to well in me too. We finished our breakfast in silence. Tim was wide eyed as he passed my balaclava. We shouted our awkward goodbyes and began the walk to school. My steps were heavy and my mind elsewhere. I didn’t realise how much my seeing people upset Mum. Was she really so worried? Something I said had made her really sad. I couldn’t bear it.

I suppose you would call us latch key kids. When we let ourselves in that night after school Tim took the task of peeling the potatoes while I consulted the note on the table to receive my directions.

‘Peel the potatoes and put them on to boil. Put the sausages in the oven – Gas 5. Will be home around 6.   Mam.’

I lit the oven before collaborating with my big brother. It seemed that he was as confused as I was at our mother’s reaction. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of reception I would get when she got home. Would she still be sad? Angry? Maybe she had forgotten all about it. We decided to lay the table and hope for the latter.

Just after six she came home looking shattered. Throwing off her head scarf and coat, she checked the cooker before calling us to the kitchen table.

“I need to tell you something Boys.” She spoke slowly without interruption. “Before you were born I had a baby girl. My first born, but she was born dead. They call it ‘still born’. She was beautiful!” Now the tears came, but this time with some control. I guessed she had probably been crying all day.

“I held her for half an hour before they took her away. We had a little ceremony in the hospital.” She looked at me, “We named her Patricia.”

The beautiful lady was my sister after all. She had been telling the truth. Patricia had died as a baby and grown in the spirit world. No wonder she looked so angelic. She never spent a day on earth. Babies who are still born, miscarried or aborted pass over without committing any earthly sin.  When we are born we all begin with a clean slate. In time we are presented with worldly situations that stir emotions in us such as jealousy, greed and anger. Life presents us with test after test, but not for Patricia.