Lori Covington Goodwin’s remarkable blog post today (read it here… http://viewsfromthehorizon.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/blog-what-dream-analysis-self-realization/ ) has prompted me to tell the tale of my awareness of the ethereal, intangible and possibly supernatural nature of the unexplainable that goes on around us all the time. Many of my close friends know of my introduction to tarot reading, but it’s a tale worth retelling I think. It’s possible it may be in two parts.
I wanted to share it with you but I need to place a caveat upon your reading: I need to state categorically right here and right now that I AM NOT A CRAZY CAT LADY!
It’s entirely possible, once you’ve read this article that you may think otherwise and I would understand your sensibilities on this matter.
But please, remember… I am NOT a crazy cat lady!
Truly, I’m not.
OK… so here goes.
What you have to know is that when this story starts I was a thirty-four year old wife (of fifteen years by then) and mother of two teenage daughters, living in Hong Kong, enjoying the job that I loved. We were reasonably successful, in most of whatever kinds of measures you might choose to grade success on. Life was pretty good – not amazing, but really, pretty much OK. It’s important to know this so that you understand how much of a shock what transpired came to us all, but particularly to me.
It probably started when my friend, Mona, joined us for afternoon tea at the Conrad one afternoon towards the end of the Easter term – it was probably mid to late March. Afternoon tea at the Conrad was a little treat that we used to indulge in once or twice a term, or if someone was having a ‘special’ birthday; it involved dropping everything as soon as possible after the children left at 3.00pm (hang the darned meetings/ planning/ marking/ organising/ assessing and the many thousands of other jobs we usually do that keep us at school until 6pm every night!) and racing down the hill to Pacific Place where the rather swanky hotels, The Hong Kong Marriot, The Island Shangri-La and the Hong Kong Conrad all jostle with each other to attract their 6-star clientele. Seriously, there’s enough marble in their combined lobbies to pave the entire Forbidden City!
It was a wonderful treat, where we would be treated like Colonial Ladies (and Gentlemen), be served adorably teeny delicate canapés, cucumber sandwiches, dim sum and exquisite petit fours, bon-bons and other delicious culinary delights. And there would be tea of course. An eclectic range of teas from around the region – Lapsang souchong, Oolong, Orange Pekoe, Assam, Lemon, Peppermint and of course the heavenly Jasmine teas -were available for us to share and discuss and eventually after about two hours of chatting, eating, drinking tea and chatting some more, we would inevitably move onto that staple of the Empire, the G&T. Or Long Island Iced Tea for some, slightly more adventurous folk. Of course then we would just make a night of it and sit in the gloriously decadent foyer of the Hong Kong Conrad hotel, watching various celebrity guests coming and going, getting jolly squiffy and relaxing together, winding down at the end of a long hard term of relentless teaching and learning.
On this occasion, Mona had been absent for the whole term as she was on maternity leave. We had seen the gorgeous little girl when she brought her in to school not long after her birth in January, but it was all to brief an encounter as we were of course all incredibly pushed for time. So this was to be the first time we’d each get an opportunity to cuddle the baby and impart our fairy godmother wishes upon her head to ensure her safe passage through this world.
Naturally, Mona’s baby was doted upon by all present and she was handed around like a very special pass-the-parcel with each of us getting a chance to hold her and snuggle, just a little bit with her, drinking in the wonderful newness of this angelic child. Truly, she was an angel, never crying, occasionally opening her eyes to peep at whoever was currently bestowing their good wishes upon her and gently smiling, safe in the knowledge that her purpose was being fulfilled. I think we all fell just a little bit under her magical spell that day.
About a week later I woke in the middle of the night, startled by the vivid dream I felt I was still enmeshed into. I was walking down a street, I knew not where this street was – I felt I vaguely recognised the place but it surely wasn’t a place I knew well. It was fairly cool and I was wearing a raincoat, so it probably wasn’t Hong Kong – no, the buildings looked like English suburban semi-detached houses with neat white gates and roses in the front gardens. So I was probably in England. The air smelled familiar – crisp and chilly with a faint hint of ‘northern -ness’ about it, coal fires, dogs, fish and chips. Probably up North somewhere – maybe Manchester or Leeds.
I was walking quite purposefully down the street, alone. As I walked I became aware that someone was ahead of me, walking briskly and occasionally turning their head this way or that, as if looking for the numbers on the houses.
She was not a tall woman, but quite broad of the shoulder, rather like me. She had a blue headscarf wrapping her auburn hair, taming it so that only small wisps were visible from this distance. Her red woollen coat was neatly fitted and her trim, rounded calves were shrouded in pale stockings with a dark seam snaking up her leg.
But it was the red shoes that caught my attention. Two inch neat heels, shiny red patent leather courts. The click-clacking of the heels on the pavement told me there were reinforce steel ‘blakeys’ on the heels. There was only one person I’d ever known who wore shoes like this. Shoes that as a small child I had placed my own tiny feet into and clacked around the kitchen or the living room, usually bedecked in a flowing silken scarf or long strings of beads and a wide-brimmed hat as I played ‘dress-up’ to the delight of the shoes’ owner. She had the steel reinforcements to make the shoes last longer, because she wore the side of the heels down unevenly otherwise. Always thrifty, my mother had many tips like this to eke out the life of a garment and keep it looking good for longer.
Yes, this was my mother ahead of me on the path. I knew this now, like a lightning bolt, the realisation struck me and I was filled with a sense of longing and delight and deep, deep need to see her face.
I hadn’t seen her face for twenty one years. She had died on the Ides of March in1975.
I think I’ll leave it there for now… second instalment tomorrow 🙂
Thanks to Shenkitup for their image of the Crazy Cat Lady which I just loved! http://shenkitup.com/2011/06/21/10-signs-youre-a-cat-lady/