Born With a Veil: A True Ghost Story
A True Ghostly Tale From Northeast Georgia
One day, while gathering stories in northeast Georgia, in a town called Lavonia, I met a woman named Linda Barnes. She's a leader in her church and community, and I was hearing stories from those areas of her life when suddenly she stopped, looked at me for a long moment, and said, "You are someone I can tell this to." A change came over her, she softened from her strong leader voice into a more hushed, even reverent tone, and she opened up to me about her life, and being raised by her grandmother. Her grandmother, whom we would refer to as a midwife today, was known then as the medicine woman. Her grandmother was gifted in many ways, and Linda went on to tell me about one mysterious day when she, herself, discovered a gift she shared with her grandmother. A gift they would not speak about for many years, and only, in special circumstances, does Linda even talk of it today. I count myself privileged to have heard, and been given permission by her to tell, this true story.
I Was Born With A Veil On My Face
That's what my Grandma called it.
She's the one who raised me. She was a kind of a medicine woman. She took care of folks—black and white. I went with her all over these parts. It was on one of these visits that she told me about the veil. We were walking home, and she got ahead of me. I saw something: a lady, a real fancy dresser. My mother was a fancy dresser too, so I thought it was her walking down the road, so I ran to her and called out to her,
"Mama! Mama! Over here!"
I called out her name, but she kept going. Then my Grandma turned around.
"I'm going to meet Mama!"
"No, Fanny! Come here now."
I knew by the sound of Grandma's voice that I needed to come back. All of the sudden, the fancy dresser turned and disappeared. Grandma and I walked a long time, maybe a mile, before talking. Then she says, "Let's rest our feet here."
And I ask her, "Grandma, why wouldn't you let me go to her?"
"She isn't who you think she was. And this is not the right time of day to be walking with spirits."
"You mean she wasn't real?"
"Oh, she's very real. As real as you and me.
"She once walked and talked on this earth, like we're doing right here. But she's on the other side of the veil now. Most times, they just want to be remembered. They show themselves and that's that. Sometimes, they need to pass on some news to people on this side. But every once in a while, there's one that wants something more. That lady probably just wanted to be remembered. But I don't want you walking with a spirit when the time's not right. She shoulda known better. That's why I called you back."
I thought about this, and then asked Grandma, "How did she know I'd see her?"
And Grandma tells me, "You were born with a veil on your face. I was, too. You were born with a half veil. That means you can see things—people and ideas that used to be. I was born with a full veil. That means I see things toward the future."
And some things that I used to wonder about started making sense. "So that's how you know if someone you're helping is gonna get well or die, like you said Mrs. Jones probably isn't gonna make it."
And Grandma is quick to correct me.
"No, honey. Only God knows those things—what I see is more patterns and pictures.
"Take Mrs. Jones. If the pattern stays the same, if the weather stays damp and cold, and the cracks in her floor aren't covered, then that cough is gonna settle in her lungs. She'll be too cold to get up and move it out of her lungs, and then the pneumonia's gonna take her. Now, if that pattern changes, she's got a chance. But when we tended her, I saw her in her wedding dress. There's only two occasions a woman wears that dress- when she gets married and when she gets buried. And Mrs. Jones is already married."
"Will I see the future, too?"
"No. The half veil sees the present and the people from our past."
"Too bad. I wish I could see the future."
My grandmother hugged me. It was my signal to know she was done talking. We'd walk that road together many times over the years to come. We'd walk it for Mrs. Jones' funeral. We'd walk it after grandma delivered a set of twins, and I got to help. I've seen a lot of things going down that road, though I never saw the fancy dresser again. One of these days, I'm sure I will.
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