And, as usual, life takes a turn when you least expect it.

Yesterday, not long after updating my post about recommitting to productive routines, and crowing about how I control my own schedule, I got a phone call.

One of my sisters needed to tell me that another sister had been suddenly stricken by a “bleeding brain tumor.”

My beloved Ogre came home from work early and drove me into St. Paul. We spent the evening in the neurological ICU, gathering and relaying information to further-flung relatives.

Right now I’m at home. The surgery is happening as I type. We won’t know much of anything for several hours, and we won’t know everything for many weeks, perhaps months. Because this isn’t my story, and because many of my family members greatly value their privacy, I won’t say much more about it, but I will make an all-clear update if I get one. (If you know the family in real life, and want more details, please don’t leave any identifying comments or questions. Just call me.)

I was reminded last night, though, of how I got to be the way that I am. Because that’s almost entirely about me, I feel okay about telling what happened. Besides, I need to do something to keep my mind and hands busy.

The time came when all the necessary decisions had been made and my sister needed to be left alone to rest. Those of us who were in attendance had moved to the hallway so we could talk. As I looked around the circle of my sister’s children, I was struck by how different everyone looked — it had been a couple of years since I’d seen most of them, outside of  snapshots and profile pictures on Facebook. Because all my sisters are a generation older than me, their children are about my age. A couple of my nieces are actually a year or two older than me. As children, we were pretty much raised together by a close-knit pack of four women. In the last 20 years or so, though, we’d spread out and fallen mostly out of regular touch.

Right about then, someone called me for another update, which made my cell phone go off.

My ringtone is the theme from Halloween.

I dealt with the call then responded to the quizzical, slightly shocked expressions around me with a defensive, “What? You all know me!”

There was general laughter. Then one of my nieces reached out and grabbed my hand. To everyone she said, “She’s always been … spooky.” She positioned my hand in mid-air, waist-height, palm up. She asked me, “Do you remember this?”

I had no idea what she was talking about. She told me to close my eyes. I did, and I waited. A few seconds later, I clearly felt her hand take an opposing position above mine.

Understand, she didn’t actually touch my hand with hers, she just allowed her palm to hover a few inches above mine. The heat and the charge that quickly built up in the space between our palms was intense. The sensation was both shocking and totally familiar.

Suddenly I remembered playing this game with my family all the time. If I recall correctly, we used a blindfold to avoid accidental cheating. There would be at least three of us together — one receiver, one sender and one witness. We’d always start with with making the connection with our hands, just the way my niece did it in the hospital. Then the blind-folded receiver would stand quietly while the sender would hover over different body parts, from different distances. The witness would make sure there was no actual touching, nor sound clues being passed.

Some of us were better at it than others. This particular niece and I used to be very good at either role, especially when we played together.

Last night, standing in the hospital hallway, it all came back to me. The thought that sort of exploded in my mind at the time was  this, “Oh, that’s right. We were all a family of unschooled heritage witches.”

Now I’m remembering lots of things, but it’s time for me to go pick up a couple of young menfolk and let them ride home in the bed of my pickup truck. (I checked. It’s legal here in Minnesota. It’s a short ride, and I’ll be extra careful.)

Us kids, we rode in the back of dilapidated trucks all the time.

God, that was a long time ago.


[update] It’s late. The surgery apparently went well. I’ve gone for a long walk and now I’m going to soak in a hot bath. My shoulders are sore down to the bones and I need to try to get the muscles to relax.


gypsy costume

Me, circa 1970-something, in a gypsy costume my sister (this sister) made.