Memories of a visit to a man who sent best wishes from his dead parents

Brown_lady_ghostSandra Smith – this blog’s South Coast correspondent – sent me this memory:


Some years ago my daughter mentioned that she had met a Jewish man called Lawrence, who would often come into the place that she worked for a chat.

He eventually started to send me a card at Christmas time, sending best wishes to me, from him, and from his dead parents.

This continued for two or three years, until he eventually extended an invitation to go to his house for a cup of tea.

Nicky and I duly turned up at the appointed time and, as we entered a very gloomy hallway, to the sound of him locking the front door behind us, I could just make out many neat piles of what appeared to be newspapers.

We were  shown into his sitting room, a room clearly frozen in time.

I made my way to a chair, through knee-high cobwebs to the left and right of me, where nobody had walked for some time.

I sat down.

While Lawrence went to make some tea – there was the offer of ginger beer if we preferred it – I noticed a chair in front of me with a shawl and dressing gown folded over its back. The table to the left of it had a cup and saucer on it, with a book and spectacles that looked as though they had been discarded for a moment and that the owner of these would be back very soon to continue reading  their book.

There were a pair of women’s slippers under the television. On the mantelpiece were many containers of pills and, as I looked closer, I could see that they were dated seven years previously.

I was aware that we were locked in the house, as I tried to push the words BATES MOTEL from my mind.

Tea arrived and we chatted for some time, while it grew dark outside.

We chatted about lots of things, as many people do over a cup of tea.

Lawrence touched upon life with his parents but not, as I remember, about the fact that they were dead.

He did mention that people had tried to interfere in his life, but that he had sent them packing as he felt it an intrusion.

I asked him about the newspapers. He just said that he enjoyed keeping them.

The afternoon came to an end and we said our goodbyes.

Nicky saw Lawrence from time to time and she invited him to her wedding.

Some of the older people did ask who he was, as he was a little eccentric-looking. But he seemed to enjoy his time with us and was very chatty throughout the day.

Lawrence did eventually accept the help and support that was being offered to him from all sides.

He eventually moved from his house into what I like to think of as a commune, but was probably called a rest home. And he lived out the remainder of his days enjoying the company of others.

Not lonely anymore.

4 Comments

Filed under Death

4 responses to “Memories of a visit to a man who sent best wishes from his dead parents

  1. Ha – you can’t beat the ole double exposure photo..

  2. Owen Morgan

    That’s a famous photo dating back to the ’40s I think. It was taken as irrefutable proof of the existence of ghosts at the time. Double exposure, maybe- but who knows?!

    A lot of people behave like poor Lawrence did after their parents die- there was a pharmacist Called Desmond James in a Welsh village called Hirwaun in the Cynon Valley, who lost his mother in the ’70s. He kept her house exactly as it was when she died, frozen in time and untouched, until he himself passed away around 1990-ish. At least they are together again now. There was also the case of two elderly brothers in a town in the North of England who lost their parents in 1932- they never changed a single THING in the house, down to the tins of food in the cupboards and the newspapers on the table. The place only had electricity on the ground floor, coal fires, and they got their hot water by boiling it on the kitchen range- they did go out to get food, but it was usually fresh produce so no modern tins or packets anywhere in the place. No TV or radio- they mowed the lawn with an ancient Mountfield hand-pushed mower (old even in the early ’30s), and were otherwise reclusive. I think they had some knowledge of what was going on in the modern world, but weren’t interested other than in the assassination of President Kennedy. They themselves died at a great age in the ’90s- the house was regarded as so remarkable that it was taken over by the National Trust and is now a museum, it was on the news at the time. There are plenty of other places like that still waiting to be discovered when their owners die.

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