I think I may have mentioned that this story character “Lillie” was given to me by a ghost. Haven’t I? Well…maybe I should share how I ended up having a powerful visitation by a mulatto ghost on a small high-valley organic farm in the middle of nowhere in southwestern Virginia, vaguely near VA Tech, about 15 years ago.
I am living the hippy dream, being supported by my pizza delivering pot growing boyfriend, working on his organic garden, tending chickens, getting stoned daily, lazing about, trying to pull my head together after some major personal tragedies that lead to my dropping out of college. I’m working my ass off. We’ve been out of town for days, seeing Grateful Dead shows and traveling and it hasn’t rained a bit so the garden is just this side of dead. Also, the electric water pump is dead, again, and it will be awhile before we have the cash to replace it. So, it’s like living in the previous century, toting water up from the spring box by hand, carrying it the full 200 feet to the kitchen, up at least 20 feet, then up a crookedy flight of stairs to the grow room to water the indoor plants, all in the burning heat of the day.
Okay, I’ve got that chore down, now on to the garden plants, a few less steps, so I’m hauling more, and going faster. I want my tomatoes and hot peppers to be happy. Hell, I might be able to pay off a bar tab if I can harvest enough of these green fruits of fire. But, I’m slopping water everywhere, and I’ve made my path a muddy mess. I’m also getting lightheaded, working in the burning sun, not eating, stoned as can be, slipping, muddy, hot, the world grays out, the buckets of water go everywhere, cooling, I’m unconscious…
As I come to I realize I haven’t fallen so badly, and the buckets haven’t rolled off into the poison ivy or the briars. I sit up, stars sparkle in my eyes and fade. No…I’m not going to pass out again. Someone is handing me a cool glass of fresh spring water and patting my back. I look up and see…
The girl in the icon…ghostly pale, no, real light, her curly hair turning golden at the ends, I look in her eyes and I can see the spring house. She laughs, and I can see the branch flowing away past the little shack. Yup, I can see right through her. My world starts graying out again, when she says, “Don’t be fear’d. I didn’t step out here t’ hurt ya none.” I shake my head, trying to clear my thoughts. “I’s slipped on dis path many a times myself,’ my ghost says, “an’ if’n ya cares to know, I’ll try an’ tell ya all about my life, why I stayed after da rest done left wit’ da Yankee army, why I still cares about dis here garden.”
I try to form words, to voice the thousand questions that are racing through my mind, when I hear the rattle a truck and trailer crossing the cattle grate. It’s the lawn service guys leaving the cemetery. They got a contract to clear the grounds and open up the sight above, to expand the old cemetery for more graves. I’ve rescued a few perennial flowers from the old slave graves; unmark sunken spots in the weedy side of the graveyard. Now they’re all mowed over, and new plots are marked out with ground paint and little numbered pegs. The guys are pointing at me and laughing, I realize I’m sitting in the mud still, my wet t-shirt clings to me and I burn with embarrassment.
“Don’t worry none about them, they’re just fools,” my ghost reappears to me once they go down the highway, gunning the engine of the big diesel pickup truck. “You remembers dat daylily you moved, da one dat blooms silvery an’ pink? Dat was mine, it marked where my love laid me t’ rest. Our boy built dat house. Oh, I wish’t I’d lived to see it, him treated just like white folk…”
What an encounter
I hope you take good care of that garden, to make her happy. She likes you and will probably watch over you, as long as you treat her beloved garden the way she would. Make a nice token memorial to her and her family and she'll be tickled pink
oh..we moved..that old house is about to fall in on itself..not kid safe, especially with the angry ghost from a whiskey driven knifing that happened back dring prohibition...
but...I did take some root stock of that silvery daylily withthe pink throat and it loves the new location...it'll bloom in a few weeks...I need to search my photos and see if I have a good one of the flower, if not, I'll snap one this year, with luck!