Let me start by saying that this is not a 'ghost story'. As a Christian, I don't have any interest (or business) in ghost-hunting. But, I do think there are a couple of life 'nuggets' here. I can explain at the end.....here's the story:
My mom was a dear, sweet lady. Loving, yet quiet and reserved – a lot like me (yeah, right). She held deep religious beliefs and lived by those her whole life. My mom always encouraged me and let me know that she valued and loved me. That’s not to say that we didn’t have some awful times – ah, the teenage years – but I always knew my mom loved me and I loved her.
My mom was not much of a disciplinarian; that was left to my dad and, actually, to my grandmother who cared for me as my mom was one of the few moms working outside the home back in the 60’s (at least, in our little Midwest town, she was). On those occasions when I behaved badly, which usually involved my ‘mouth’ opposed to my fists, my mom always seemed hurt and disappointed in my behavior, rather than angry with me. She had a quiet way of scolding me in a manner that let me know she was not pleased, but also included a reminder of how “pretty” (physically? spiritually? regardless, I loved it) I was to her. She would say, “You’re too pretty to act that way”, when I had my little ‘attitude’ for not getting what I wanted. Or, she would say, “You’re too pretty to talk like that”, when I used ‘un-ladylike language’ (I never heard my mom say a cuss word in her whole life). She said this phrase with such regularity, it kind of became a joke between us. “I know, I know, mom, I’m too pretty to do that”, I’d say before she could, when I knew I had transgressed.
I miss my mom. She passed away 15 years ago from Alzheimer’s disease.
A few years ago, I was in the hospital for what I guess would be considered a pretty serious illness. Sparing all the gory details, let’s just say I was hospitalized for 6 days, tube down my throat, major surgery, lots of fun. I can remember lying in that hospital bed on about day 4 thinking, "Man, I really must be sick". My husband was a rock star, rarely left my bedside the entire time. My family members all came to see me in the hospital (my sister, upon seeing me, making a comment that I looked like !@#$ - true to our lovingly competitive relationship).
One of those hospital nights, my husband had stepped out of the room, at my encouragement, to get a bite to eat in the hospital cafeteria (yum). It was one of the first times since my admission through the ER that I was in a hospital room by myself. I lay rather lifeless and flat on my back, as I had done for many days. I didn’t have the strength to sit or stand - it would have been nearly impossible anyway, with all the tubes and wires tethering me down. Even though I was somewhat apprehensive about being alone in this now not-so-strange environment of the hospital, I felt relaxed and peaceful in my dark room with only the glow of monitors for light, and the distant and newly familiar sound of nurses and patients out in the hallway.
My husband returned to my room after only a few minutes away, apologizing for not bringing me back anything to eat (nervous humor). “You doing OK? Have any of the nurses been in to check on you while I was gone?”, he asked, leaning down to kiss me on the forehead. “No, but the lady in the bed next to mine stepped over and spoke to me” I told him, gesturing toward the curtain beside my bed that divided my hospital room into two. My husband paused, with a perplexed look on his face. “There’s nobody in the other bed. There hasn’t been another patient over there”, he informed me. “Yeah there is”, I said. “It’s an older lady with white hair. She was wearing a nightgown and she stood at the foot of my bed and spoke to me”. Thinking maybe I was mistaking one of the nurses who had come in to check on me while he was gone, my husband asked, “Well, what did the woman say?” I paused for a moment, re-envisioning my visitor, with her comforting presence and kind words. I then answered, “She said to me, You’re too pretty to be this sick”.
Was it Imagination...Hallucination...Medication? I don't know, and it doesn't matter. I learned a couple of things here:
First, we never know what we might say to someone in our life that sticks with them forever. We need to make sure what comes out of our mouth is valuable and edifying.
Secondly, I think (hope) that God does allow specific moments in our life when we can receive direct encouragement from someone we love who has left this planet ahead of us. It's not a ghost thing, but it is spiritual.