Christmas is traditionally a time for the telling of a good ghost story and so here I set down details of something that happened to me a few years ago. You may not consider it to be sensational in nature but I believe it shows that we should all keep an open mind about ghostly matters, especially those relating to our family!
If you read my first post on this blog a year ago you may remember I recounted details of the stories my Mum used to tell me about my family and how it was these that initiated my love of family history. My Mum and I were very close and it was a tragedy for me that she died when I was in my late 20s. We had often debated whether or not there was life after death and I had half-jokingly suggested that if there were she should return to let me know!
On several occasions for six months or so after she died I experienced a strange but comforting feeling that she was inside me looking out of my eyes and I have always felt that she is close, but never did she actually ‘return’ in the way I had asked.
You may have noticed a passing reference to my love of opera in my first blog post. As a teenager I had discovered an old 45 RPM record of the famous tenor Beniamino Gigli in my parents’ attic and this sparked my love of singing and opera, leading me to take up singing lessons (yet another tale). Mum shared my love of music and especially Italian opera. When I was 20 we spent a wonderful holiday in Italy culminating in a trip to the opera at Verona while one of our favourite songs was Gigli’s rendition of ‘Mamma’ by the Italian songwriter Cesare Bixio .
One evening many years after Mum had died my husband and I were watching television. We were watching ‘Francesco’s Italy’ in which native Italian Francesca da Mosta travels the length and breadth of Italy exploring the countryside and meeting its people. It was the last program in the series and in it Francesco finishes by meeting up with his family – including his beloved ‘Mamma’. As he does so music starts playing and that music was none other than Bixio’s ‘Mamma’ and it was sung by Beniamino Gigli!
As the music began to play I thought ‘This is our song’. No sooner did I think that than my old musical sewing box that sat in the corner of the room suddenly began to play. My husband and I both looked at each other and froze. The box had not been wound for years!
‘It’s my Mum’ I said half-jokingly. ‘She wants me to open the box’. I moved over to the music box and opened it. My sewing threads and needles rested as usual on the velvet covered insert inside the box. I knew I had to lift out the insert and as I did so staring up at me was a photograph of Gigli the same man who was still singing away on the TV.
There may be scientific reasons why the music box suddenly started playing of its accord and I remember that I placed that picture there together with other operatic mementos years before but I had forgotten all about them.
What no one can explain is why the music box started playing at that particular moment in time. It has never played before or since of its own accord.
The incident left me with a warm and euphoric feeling that I have never forgotten. My Mum had managed to reach out to me even after all those years.