It’s a rare thing on this job to cover a somewhat personal story.
The editor offered to assign it to someone else, but I felt I was the only one who could do it justice.
The family of Betty Neeld expected her to pass weeks ago, forgetting how tough she was.
There are certainties in life, taxes, Mondays, death. In this family, death does not come without a visit from someone who has already moved beyond.
The day of the surgery, only the living visited Betty, and she pulled through.
Tonight, though, I don’t know if she was visited by anyone from beyond the mortal coil. Her brother and other family members were by her side, maybe that’s all she needed.
The ghosts of the family run thick like blood, never far, rarely quiet.
Stories and legends of pregnancy predicting cats, taking alms from mining families during strikes.
There’s a strange, unspoken power there.
Betty now joins their ranks.
I’m the prodigal nephew, the quiet son, the distant brother. Living across country, keeping to myself, distant from everyone, but even I feel the power, the pull of the lost family. They never let you get too far away without a sign, a little nudge, that they are there.
Whether it’s my iPhone responding to voiceless commands, or the whiff of cigar smoke, or a trail of caramel candies, they are there.
Tonight Midland, Texas gained a ghost, a guardian spirit.
We may pass, we may move on, but it seems like we never leave our loved ones.
Here’s to you, Betty, may your family continue to make you proud as you watch over us.
*Dedicated to my family and especially, my Aunt Betty*