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Behind Life's Curtain
Relative Abilities

For as far back as I can remember I have always sensed the presence of the curtain that separates the living world from that which lies beyond. Most of the time it is a heavy tapestry, one that obscures vision and dampens sound. But there are times when it is no more than an airy veil, nearly transparent. I can see, hear and feel those energies that go unnoticed by others.

I am not alone in these abilities and my own are very modest in comparison with the world's skilled psychics. And yet I have had many unusual experiences and I share them here in the hope that someone else may benefit. I want those who have had similar experiences to know that they are not crazy. In particular the very young need to be believed, comforted, supported and above all protected. There has always been temptation for the young to dabble in the occult and in what follows I offer some guidance about doing so safely.

Like many with abilities I know that my mother's family has a long history of unusual experiences. While I was not present during these encounters, I have them on the best authorities that genealogy can offer. The first of these is about my great great grandfather's sister.

Olivia Lea Alexander married Thomas Jefferson Peel in 1858 in Marshall County, MS. In March 1862 her husband rode away from home to join his brothers in the 19th Mississippi Infantry. In late June as Olivia stood on the porch she saw Tom's horse, riderless, galloping toward the house. As the horse reached the porch it vanished. Long before the telegram arrived Olivia already knew she was a widow. Tom had suffered only a minor wound, but during his stay in Richmond's Chimborazo hospital he succumbed to pneumonia and was buried in Richmond. Olivia's story was recorded by her nephew and published in The Family of V.O. and Sallie Alexander by Connie Alexander Mitchell,1982.

My maternal grandfather, George Ludovic Alexander -- whom I named "Poppy" when I was first able to speak -- seemed to possess a sense of things going on even when he was not present. Mother told me that one day she and her twin brother were home for lunch and there was some sort of domestic disturbance, an altercation with their mother. Since such discord was unusual it was equally strange when her father suddenly arrived home from his banking job to re instill harmony into the household.

In any game of bridge he often directed the other three on what cards they would lay down. "Ok, you put down the Queen of Hearts, and you Gladys need to put down your . . . " and on it would go to the amazement of the players. He seemed to think nothing of it.

Poppy's three pack a day smoking habit took a toll on his heart. He had been hospitalized many times and it should have been no shock when the end came. Even so, Poppy still managed to surprise us. On the last day of his life he got up as usual. In the garden he picked the first two gardenias for my grandmother (a romantic tradition throughout their 45 year marriage) and placed the blossoms in a glass of water on his desk. He then paid all the bills, neatly stacking the stamped envelopes ready for tomorrow's mail. He stood up and was dead before he hit the floor.

It was about 10pm when our phone rang. I remember distinctly how my mother reached for the receiver and as her hand touched it she said "I know what this is. Daddy's gone." She picked up the phone and said, "Yes, Mother, I know. I will take the first flight out tomorrow. Are you ok?" There was a brief pause and I think that was the only time my grandmother said anything. Reassured, Mother said goodbye and hung up. We had all heard what was said so she didn't have to tell us. I had only one question "Mom, how did you know before you picked up the phone?" She shrugged. "I guess it was just like I know anything else."

Even in death Poppy was not entirely gone. My grandmother, who had never been without him during their entire marriage, lived alone for another 14 years. During that time she had several visits from Poppy who often whispered to her when she had misplaced some small object and was frustrated. Grandmere was a tiny little woman, 5 feet tall and maybe 100 pounds. During her 80s she suffered from macular degeneration, a form of blindness and was also quite deaf. One night Poppy whispered to her to wake up and when she did she could make out the light of a flashlight moving in the kitchen. Following Poppy's instructions she got out of bed and quietly moved when he told her to, being sure to take her keys with her. Two men had climbed into her house through a kitchen window, seemingly unaware of her presence. At the front door, Poppy told her to be certain that she locked the door. Once outside, dressed only in her nightdress, she went to the neighbors. When the police arrived they found the burglers trapped inside, foiled by the locked front door. I can only assume that Poppy stayed by Grandmere's side until her death in 1984.

My mother's abilities have always been present even if she never makes much of them. In addition to knowing that her father had died before getting the phone call, she and I shared a strange convergence on the matter of a particular room. The story of Rose Hill is covered in greater detail later, but for now it is enough to know that at one time two sisters shared a room in the house -- my paternal grandmother and my great aunt, whom we called Aunt Bill.

The Pink Room

It was a pretty bedroom with pink walls and white wicker furniture, including two single beds and a small dressing table. It should have been attractive to any little girl, but as a child I hated that room. In my mind I could see a young woman lying face down sobbing on the bed nearest the door [the bed to the left in the picture] her head towards the bed foot. I never went into the Pink Room alone and even with another person present I was uncomfortable.

When I was about 18 my mother had to go out of town. My brother and sister were also away. Aunt Bill disapproved of me being on my own and invited me to stay with her. Since I was researching a book about life in the old houses of Aiken, I thought staying in the mansion would be good for my project. I had just one misgiving.

"I hope she doesn't stick me in the Pink Room," I said to my mother.

"Why?" she asked.

"It's depressing."

"Because of the woman crying."

I was stunned. Mother knew. "Which bed?" I asked.

"Closest to the door," she answered, then she asked me "Which way is she lying?"

"With her head toward the foot of the bed," I replied.

We were both amazed. It seemed that she had the same impression of the room that I had although we had never discussed it. We each thought it was some trick of the imagination. As matters turned out I stayed in the Pink Room during my visit with Aunt Bill and slept on the bed that had so scared me as a child. Nothing happened and I was never afraid of it again.

But what was it? Who was the woman? Only two women had ever spent any time in that room. My grandmother died in January 1967, but at the time when I had my first impressions of the room both women were still alive. Mother and I discussed the identity of the mystery woman and Mother recalled that when Aunt Bill was in her early 20s she fell in love with a young man who reciprocated her affection. It could have led Aunt Bill down a different path in life, but it was not to be. Her mother declared the man to be a "gold-digger" and beneath the family's social status. She demanded that the relationship be ended immediately. The dutiful daughter, did as her mother wished, but the impression she left in the Pink Room remained long after her tears were dried and forgotten.

In order to tell the story of the haunted house in which I spent most of my childhood it is necessary to explain something of the family. Those who have died can be named and in many cases there are links to biographical information from elsewhere on the website.

Living relatives are called by nicknames or descriptives to maintain their privacy.

While many are devoted to a single faith, for me the concept of Deity long ago outgrew any of the world's religions. The following is the best summation of what I believe:

Those whom heaven helps we call the sons of heaven.
They do not learn this by learning.
They do not work it by working.
They do not reason it by using reason.
To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment.
Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.
Chuang Tse, 4th century BCE

In the pages that follow I will cover my experiences with the supernatural. I am open-minded, but not gullible. For those who have questions or need advice, I will do my best to answer your emails.

Peace be upon you all.

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