Lady of the Third Dimension

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World War II was  in its second year in 1942, and our men were away fighting for their country.  I was fifteen years old  and living in a small three-room apartment in the heart of  staid old Boston with Mother, who is a solid, no-nonsense person with green eyes, freckles,  and naturally curly red that I have always envied.

This particular weekend my  paternal grandmother was visiting us. Grandmother fascinated me. A showgirl in her youth,  she was still  very beautiful with snow-white hair, black eyes, and a  flawless olive  complexion. From my earliest recollection there  had been a strong bond between us,  and I was  happy to relinquish my  bed to her and sleep on the couch in the front room.

I remember going to bed early as we proposed to go  shopping the next morning. Sometimes during the night  I was awakened  by someone gently stroking my forehead.  Sitting on the edge of my couch was a petite, exotic-looking woman with beautiful, piercing black eyes. Her hair, shimmering in the moonlight from the open window, was blue-black and hung loosely to her waist.

She wore  what appeared to be an  old-fashioned flannel nightgown trimmed  with lace and blue  ribbons. Her slender finger lay across her lips signalling me to be  quiet.  She seemed  to sense my fright and smiled warmly;  she made no move toward me nor did she  speak.

She  just hovered protectively over me. Nevertheless my terror mounted. I lay in a cold sweat,  my eyes following her every  move. It seemed an eternity before she slowly rose,  still smiling, and floated into oblivion. I wanted  to cry  out but my  mouth was parched, my throat paralyzed.

The  next thing I remember was Mother saying, “C’mon, sister,  it’s time to get up.” Mother and Grandmother  were already sipping their  second cup of coffee as I sat down.  “Sister, you are  awfully pale this morning. Didn’t  you  sleep well?” Grandmother asked. “I had a  bad  nightmare,” I replied. And then I related the  details as carefully as I could.

Grandmother paled noticeably and said, “No, child, this  was not a dream but a  visitation. You will see her  again! Hear me out, for I have seen her on a  number of occasions.  “My most  vivid recollection concerns my brother George, a broad-shouldered,  freckled-faced, redheaded giant  of a man.

At twenty, George left home and  went to Chicago to make his way. There he obtained employment and lived in a  boardinghouse. George never had been sick a  day in  his life,  yet one morning he did not  show  up for work.  “His landlady was busy with her daily chores when the  doorbell rang.

When she answered she was surprised to see a young priest in a long black cassock who asked if he could   see the young man who was  dying. “But, Father, I only have one male roomer and   he went  to work this morning, she said.

“The  priest begged her to check, saying  that a lovely young woman had appeared at the  registry that morning  and informed them that a young man was dying and in  dire need  of assistance. She had given them this address. Together the priest and the landlady climbed the stairs to  George’s  second-floor room.

The door was ajar, and they  entered. George’s clothes were folded neatly on the chair  and his wallet lay open on the oval-top table. George was in  bed,  lying flat on his back, unable to move.  “In a barely audible voice George inquired, “Father, how did you know I was sick? Who sent you?”

“The  priest told him the same story he had  told he  landlady.  Then, realizing the seriousness of George’s condition, he  administered the last rites. Afterwards his gaze  fell  on a large oil painting of mother that hung over George’s  bed.

“That is the  woman who came to the  rectory this morning. Where is she? he asked.

“George looked puzzled.  “That is my mother, sir. She died when I was a baby.’

“Impossible!” said the priest, ‘I shook hands with her.  she was warm and very much alive.’

“Two hours later George was dead. We brought him  home and buried him in a grave next to Mother.

“Now, my child,” Grandmother continued, ” I  want you to promise me  you will be most careful in  everything you do  for the next few weeks.”

On a lazy spring morning about two weeks  later  I headed  for the bus stop with some of my young friends . We were  running, shoving and pushing one another. At the  bus  stop,  standing with her back toward us,  was a petite woman in a  pink dress, her back hair neatly pulled back in a French  twist.

There was something familiar,  about her, but I paid  little attention. We could see the bus coming. As it  drew close  someone shoved me and to my horror I felt myself falling  in front of the oncoming machine.

Then someone grabbed me, shortening my fall.  Badly shaken, I turned to thank my  rescuer, and found myself gazing into the face that had  hovered over my couch a few nights before, It was such a  shock that I passed out and in the ensuing confusion the woman disappeared. No one had bothered to get her name but  I  knew who she  was. God help me, I knew!

Several times since then I have been visited by my  great-grandmother,  Agnes Elizabeth Riley Murray, born in Country Cork, Ireland. Each time she has  warned me of  impending danger. On several occasions these warnings have saved  my life.

Then a few years ago the postman brought me a letter from my own son,  who was then  in Vietnam. The letter told of his  being separated from his buddies in the jungle and of  a sudden encounter with a  beautiful woman with  flashing black eyes and long black hair.

He wrote that she saved his life by delaying his progress through the tropical forest. Then she disappeared. ” I know, Mother, You will think me insane,” he wrote.  But of course, I know he wrote the truth. He, too, has  experienced our family’ protector-my beautiful great-grandmother.

Agnes  Smith

 El Paso, Texas

 March 1974

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