In my short story Henry forgot to write “eat, eat” I wrote “There are ghosts in my kitchen. I know who these ghosts are. They are familiar to me”, and chronicled various family members who turn up from time to time.
But there are ghosts who weren’t familiar to me. Ollie whose kitchen in fact it was until 1980, and her husband Vin. One of the wonderful things about Ollie is she isn’t pushy. It’s taken us a while to get to know her.
It was only during our last visit to Taylors Arm earlier this month, chatting briefly to an ex-local, Peter, we became on a first name basis with our predecessors Ollie & Vin. Peter who by his surname is a relative of theirs, lived his early life in successive houses and was an apprentice baker in the village. He resided next door at the time of Ollie’s death in 1980. She died from a heart attack in the front bedroom. Our bedroom now.
Our house was built in the 1930’s. We knew the first occupants by their surname only and were told they raised 8 children in our 3 bedroom house. As was common practice it also once had part of the verandah closed off as a sleep-out.
Courtesy of Google I was able to find some of Ollie & Vin’s family history. Ollie & Vin were married in 1925. They both came from local families. Their various family names abound locally still.
Ollie’s husband Vincent, 6 years older than her, died 6 years before in 1974. They were both 73 when they died.
Although she was yet to be introduced to us, the G.O. and I had started to wonder about Ollie’s influence. Along with the many other old floral pictures we or our ghosts have a penchant for, we have in 8 years of our residence acquired several old religious pictures, starting with a simple small God Bless This House which cost a dollar.
Both the G.O. and I have Anglican family heritage but the pictures we’ve acquired are quite Catholic, Ollie & Vin’s religion. To this day, they and their family’s names appear in the weekly parish bulletin under “Praying for Holy Souls”. As I imagine they were regular church-goers, the Catholic Church conveniently for them is one house up from ours. It’s the church we attend at Christmas & Easter but all, regardless of denomination, are welcome any time. It’s the local church.
Only days before my chat with Peter the G.O. surprised me with several gifts for my birthday, one of which was a print of (I now know) Saint Therese. The gift was a surprise because I had been mulling over its purchase for a while. When we were in Macksville en route to TA I went to the shop to buy it but there was only an empty hook on the wall. Somehow sometime the G.O. bought & got it home without my knowledge.
Our St. Therese now resides over the kitchen door, flanked by flowery renditions of The Lord will Provide and The Lord is my Shepherd.
As the G.O. hung St. Therese in place on the Saturday, we wondered about the original owners of the house and if this was their influence. Our suspicions were confirmed the next morning.
When the G.O. joined Peter and I in conversation and was told Ollie and Vin’s names the expression on his face must have echoed mine. Since I met the G.O. in 1990, his nickname for me has been Ol’ short for Ollie, and his pseudonym in my short story Reprise is Vin, named for Vincent, his grandfather.
No wonder it feels like home.