Opening words . . .

Monday, 3 January 2011

Aunt Gayle's Mysterious Visit

This story is a memory from my childhood. My family was living in a small trailer my dad built for us to live in while he built what turned out to be a very large house, which made up for this tiny place we shared for a couple years! I would have been around eight years old . . . Good times!

Most likely it was the squeaks of the rocking chair that broke my deep sleep, my vision now alert to my aunt’s back and forth movements in the chair. The whole event from start to finish took only a minute or two, but the story retold innumerable times has wedged itself firmly in place in the family memory album. As I read my aunt’s recent email message with snippets of the story, my memory lingered on the details of that night in our small house trailer.

It was the timing of the visit. Aunt Gayle was always a welcomed visitor in our home, but her unusual and peculiar desire to drop in on us in the middle of the night didn’t make it easy for us to crawl out of bed for a chat.

There was only a small stove between the chair and the davenport on which I was sleeping. Her blurry outline through my half opened eyes revealed her relaxed sort of manner. It was all very mysterious. My aunt Gayle was calm and sweet in personality and didn’t do particularly strange things on a regular basis. I sat up and spoke to her hoping she had a good reason for her untimely visit. She then called out to Mom in the next room. As I remember it, I wasn’t shocked so much as bewildered. Mom’s voice bespoke shock.

“Gayle, what do you want? Why are you here?” Mom got to the point, but who wouldn’t considering the circumstances? Before Mom got her answers, Gayle ended the visit, the door thudding to a close behind her.

In the aftermath, Mom convinced Dad to leave the coziness of his abode and slip out into the night to follow his sister, to ensure she did arrive back home safe and sound. My grandparents were in a state of peaceful slumber when Dad showed up declaring that Gayle had been roaming the neighbourhood. Gayle apparently did find her room and snuggled back in her bed leaving Grammy and Grampy to wonder if it was Dad who was the real “midnight wanderer.” Upon an explanation from Grampy that Gayle had been sick the day before, thus being the probable reason behind her sleepwalking, Dad returned home allowing us to fall into sleep once again.

It was spring. As discovered the next day, the mud on Aunt Gayle’s socks produced the evidence that it had been she, indeed, who had been the real midnight wanderer and had come through Grammy’s garden as a shortcut. And in Gayle-like fashion, she enjoyed the story of her mysterious midnight journey as much as the rest of us.