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Apr 13, 2007

Friday the 13th

Oh, my superstitions are running high. I grew up with superstitions and tales of mysterious portents of death and disaster. For example, one story that involved my great grandmother concerned a huge fireball that landed in the woods just beyond their cabin. The next day someone came to tell her that her husband had died.

Another great-grandmother, living alone on a secluded hill, heard knocking sounds all the outside of her house. Being my descendant, she immediately put a pistol in her pocket and stepping outside, walked all around her house, the well house, and finding nothing, went back to bed. Shortly thereafter, her daughter was bitten by a copperhead, but survived.

Growing up, we never stepped on a crack, (having a huge desire to preserve our mothers' spinal column), we never walked under ladders, and I still wonder when a black cat crosses my path. So far, no ill effects, because I usually pull over and start calling, "Kitty, kitty, come to mama.."
I will not tear up any photo's, or throw away any letters. It just doesn't seem right somehow.

One weird thing that happened to me occurred in Georgia in the 1990's. I was staying with my sister-in-law with my two boys in tow. She had a wonderful old house, that I would love to have. Earlier that day she had been cleaning the floors, and here comes a whole truck full of close friends, to spend the weekend. Cooking now became a top priority, so I set about cleaning the kitchen and getting field peas and lima beans out of the freezer, and trying to decide what meats to cook. I was standing at the sink, putting the frozen food in cold water to defrost, when out of nowhere, a six foot black snake dropped from the ceiling. I guess I made some noise, as my brother-in-law came running. By this time, I'm trying to get the snake out the back door, because I don't like to see them killed just for being snakes. But, my brother-in-law arrived to soon and the snake was dispatched and displayed for conversation all evening.

Curiously, that night, the whipper wills had moved in closer to the house and were singing up a storm. This is always a bad sign, as the whipper will, in folk mythology sometimes warns of impending death, and may escort the dead to the hereafter. I felt uneasy. But the evening went off without a hitch.

The next day, one of the young men, about 16 or so, who had come to visit was riding in the back of a pickup, going about 15 miles an hour, and fell from the truck, hitting his head. Seein g that he appeared alright they continued on their journey. When they got home, the young man immediately stretched out on the sofa. He was complaining of a head-ache, and wanted to sleep. His face was flushed, and he was nauseated. Ok, now alarm bells are going off in my head like crazy, but mom and dad said they would see how he did for the next few days, and if he didn't get better, take him into the doctor. I'm babbling about not waiting, go now, you never know, please, but it was the parents decision, and I felt helpless. I listened to the whipper wills all night as they seemed to move closer to the house. Their song was endless, beautiful, but without end.

The next day the visitors left, and we learned that the following day, they took their son to the ER. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage, and by the time he was admitted, and sent to a room, he was in a coma. The following day the parents were told that the bleeding had been so severe, that he was now brain dead. The parents then had to decide whether to remove the machines that were keeping him alive. They chose to do so, and this young man lost his life.

Of course we were all shocked. We dispaired that he was taken to the doctor sooner. We mourned his loss, and attended the funeral.

But, I have often wondered about the snake and the whipper wills. My upbringing, immersed in folklore, made me think about warnings and all the signs I had learned of death and disaster. I remembered the snake, and listening to the non-stop call of the whipper wills, hidden in darkness, coming closer and closer each night. Were they telling us of this young man's impending death? Were they waiting to carry his spirit away? All of this can be explained easily by coincidence, but it does make you wonder. Is it really coincidence? Shortly before my father passed, I would hear the whipper wills sing at night, and did they get louder? Was that my imagination? I don't know. But I feared and hated the sound. Silently, I cursed them, saying don't come around my door, you have no need here. Many will consider this the ravings of a hill woman, raised in ignorance, sounding like the old granny women who could cure ailments with roots, and strange herbs. But it does make you think. Doesn't it? Just a little?

9 comments:

Loving Annie said...

GoodFriday morning Just Me.
I'm not superstitious in general at all, but your story definitely has portents in it...
I think nature has great wisdom in it...
You might have been able to save him had they listened to you earlier... That is sad...

Loving Annie said...

p.s. and thank you for the incredibly sweet comment that you left on my blog yesterday --

deuddersun said...

Friday the 13th has always been my best day of the year. Go figger.

d.

Bardouble29 said...

Wow, folklore has always interested me. I am not generally superstitious, but there have been times....

dawn said...

Okay, you have now sufficiently freaked me out for Friday the 13th. I wouldn't consider myself very superstitious but I have certain rituals at my husbands little league games and feel if I change them he will lose. Have a great weekend

Anne said...

I think there may be something to some of those superstitions. BTW many plants do have medicinal value.

I heard that same knocking all around my house when I first got serious with my late fiance. I think something about him may have disturbed the spirits, or it was a warning or something. It scared the pee out of me! And (not really related to the knocking) about 6 years later he was diagnosed with cancer on a Friday the 13th.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

We happen to own two completely black cats. A neighbor came over Friday, and one of the cats jumped on her lap. She just went nuts!:)

Shrink wrapped scream said...

I've experienced far too many spooky happenings in my life, to question any of them. Awful for that poor boy - far worse for his parents..

Mary said...

How'd I miss this post. My first marriage occured on Friday the 13th. Nuff said.