“ARE THERE A LOT OF THEM WALKING AROUND?” It was the question I had to ask, so after breakfast, as I was helping Anna in the kitchen, I asked about Mary Margaret and the other spirits around us.
“As for other ghosts, I don’t see them,” Anna answered. “But Mary Margaret says others are always around. She doesn’t pay attention to them. She says they come and go so quickly that she can’t keep up with them. Those that stick around…they all seem to have a reason for remaining in one area.”
Then Anna leaned over towards Mary Margaret. I guess Mary Margaret needed to tell her something. I soon found out it was a question for me. “Mary Margaret wants me to ask if you still have that dream.”
I don’t know why I was surprised. I’d read about Mary Margaret’s innate powers to see inside someone’s mind, but I was taken aback for several reasons. One, I’d never had someone read my mind. My mind was spinning. “What if I think the wrong thing? Will she know what I’m thinking, even before I say it? God, I hope she can’t do that,” I thought. “I have dreadful thoughts about myself and others. Sometimes, I’m far nicer on the outside than I am on the inside. Will she see that and run away?”
Two, I’d never told a soul about my recurring dream—nightmare—where I’m driving my car on the Interstate and crash into the back of a truck. “How can she know?” I wondered.
I knew I shouldn’t ask or reply, but I thought I owed her some sort of answer. “I still have the dream once or twice a week.”
“It’s your spirit’s way of telling you to let it go. Whoever hurt you before can’t hurt you again. Your future is in your hands.” Anna passed along Mary Margaret’s words.
“What do I need to do?” I asked. “I feel strong inside. I know what I can and cannot do. I would never do what my dream tells me to do. I know I wouldn’t.”
“Mary Margaret says you have to forgive. Your spirit cannot rest with such bitterness. Let it all go.” Anna’s voice was calm, soothing.
I guess Mary Margaret was telling me what I already knew, but failed to practice. Anger will eat you up inside.
“I’ll try to forgive others as much as possible. It would sure make my mother proud,” I said as I let out a weak laugh. “She was very smart, just like you, Mary Margaret.” I looked directly towards where I thought she was sitting.
“Mary Margaret says we’re all smart in our own ways,” Anna replied. “She said to look at what we’ve accomplished.”
“I think you’re the smartest,” I said, again looking at Mary Margaret’s spot.
“She says nkosi,” Anna said and then translated. “It means ‘Thank you’ in Bantu. She speaks Bantu sometimes, but only to us.”
A few seconds of silence gave me time to ask the obvious, however hurtful it might sound. “So why is Mary Margaret still…?” I found it difficult to finish my question.
Anna seemed to know what I was trying to ask and asked it for me. “Why is she still here, with us?”
“Yes,” I replied, relieved.
“She knows it’s wrong to do what she’s done. Dead folks aren’t supposed to stay around this long. It’s a rule, but who can name a rule this old woman ever obeyed? Excluding the Lord’s rules, of course.”
“But why did she stay after your father was gone?”
“She’s waiting to take Gracie home with her.”
Then I looked at the older woman sitting across from me. I could see it all too clearly. Death wasn’t far away. “How bad is it?”
“The cancer has spread to her organs,” Anna answered for Gracie, and the look on Gracie’s face showed she wanted to divert the conversation as quickly as possible.
“Blessed shall you be when you go in and blessed shall you be when you go out,” Gracie said as she leaned over and spoke quietly to us. “Today, I don’t want any talk about going out. We have special guests. It is a happy time. We need to be happy, not sad. It is a happy day, indeed. Let’s make this a good day, one to remember.”
We followed Gracie’s lead and moved to other issues.
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE AND BE GRATEFUL FOR IT EVERY DAY. I decided long before I reached the end of the story. The thought of the three of them living under one roof for so many years was endearing, and I couldn’t help but wonder how they’d managed so well in Angola, of all places.
Later that day, our talk became more serious. “Are you happy about returning to South Africa?” Carole Lynn asked. “It is such a good time for South Africa.”
Gracie replied, “We’re all eager to get back. We’ve missed it. Plus, South Africa is where we must be buried. It is our motherland.”
“Will you miss Angola?”
“Yes, for different reasons. I’ve been here a long time, and we made a life here. But South Africa will be better for us…better for Anna when we are gone.”
“We?” I asked.
“Yes, I will leave this earth soon, and Mary Margaret will go with me.”
That prompted me to share a story my mother used to tell my brother, sister, and me. They all listened, and Anna even leaned over and told me that I had Mary Margaret’s full attention.
“My mama used to tell an old legend about a lion and a dying woman who wanted to go to heaven. I never heard anyone else ever talk about it, and at times, I thought it was all in her head—made up to make us feel better about the future, to look ahead, wonder, and wait for better times. Have you heard the story?”
None of them had heard it, so I began, telling the story the way my mother told me. “The story starts with a woman who’d been sick for a long time. She knew it was time for her to leave this earth and move on to the afterlife. She waited and waited, and one day a voice from the heavens told her, ‘A strong lioness will come your way to take you home. Others will be afraid, but you needn’t fear. The lioness will be fierce and show anger, but she knows the secret to finding the afterlife. Take hold of the lioness and ride her to your end.’ When the sick woman asked the heavens how the lioness would know the way, the heavens said, ‘She will know the way. You need not worry. Have faith in what you have just been told.’ Then one day, a powerful lioness arrived in the village. The sick woman heard that the animal was terrorizing the people of the village. She hurried to find the lioness, but it was too late. The lioness had been stabbed and lay dying on the ground. The sick woman cried aloud until finally a voice came from the sky. ‘Climb onto the animal before it is too late.’ She couldn’t consider such a thing, for she would certainly be laughed at and her life would be a horrible mess. But the voice spoke the same words again. After contemplating for several minutes, the sick woman realized the lioness was taking her last breaths. The woman knew it was time for her to follow her faith, so she climbed onto the lioness just before the animal’s soul lifted up and flew away. The lioness flew the sick woman towards the Crux Constellation, seen high in the sky. The Crux was the door to heaven, and the two went through it. Later, after the two arrived at heaven, the lioness finally spoke. The great lioness said, ‘Here you will find peace. But you may never return to that which is now below you.’
“My mother told us that in the very early days, people in the Northern Hemisphere were able to see the Crux Constellation, also called the Southern Cross,” I continued. “But over time, the land and people in the Southern Hemisphere became much poorer. So God moved the Crux there, to the southern sky.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish