My niece has a lot of love for her grandmother, and according to my brother, they talk on a fairly regular basis. The fact that her grandmother died three years ago has not put a damper on their relationship whatsoever.
The chats apparently started shortly after my mom passed away from pancreatic cancer.
“Grandmother says she had to let go, because she was in too much pain,” my niece once randomly announced. “But it’s okay, because she’s happy and comfortable now.” And then she casually went back to watching Hilda on her tablet, while her parents casually shit themselves.
After a few more “Grandmother Says” incidents, my sister-in-law was like, “Is your grandmother by herself when she talks to you, or is she with other people?”
“She’s with the pizza delivery guy,” my niece replied.
Her parents were a bit stymied by that answer, so she provided a physical description. And then my brother was like, “Um… she’s talking about my cousin Greg. He was the assistant manager of a pizza parlor and passed away about thirty years ago.”
“Does… does your grandmother have any messages for anyone else?” My sister-in-law asked, walking a razor-thin line between fascination and stark terror. And my niece rolled her eyes like only a 12-year-old can and was like, “It doesn’t work that way. This isn’t email, Mom.”
The logical conclusion would be that my niece is a budding medium, but to be frank, I think it’s more just my mom wanting everyone to know that she’s still keeping an eye on things. My mom loved my sister-in-law unconditionally, right up until grandchildren entered the picture: At that point, my brother and his wife became the Worst Parents in the History of Family Planning, and my mom became convinced that they were definitely going to somehow break their brood unless she personally intervened.
Which, y’know, is pretty standard grandma stuff. As the resident guncle, my job was to reign my mom in whenever she tried to cross any boundaries, which basically meant helping her find a healthy balance between unsolicited disciplinary actions and spoiling the varmints rotten.
Now that she’s dead, though, my mom can bypass the rest of us and reach out to her granddaughter directly. Which is concerning to an extent, but also kind of reassuring. Assuming the afterlife has mellowed her out a little, my mom will probably make a really good tutelary spirit.
And of course, me being me, whenever my mom transmits information to my niece, I’m immediately like, “Maybe I should buy you some introductory books on necromancy. Or an age-appropriate Tarot deck. Does your condo association have any rules about burning incense? Because I’ve got a bead on some helpful blends…” And then my sister-in-law stares at me like I have three heads, and my brother just shrugs, because he lived with me for 18 years and is pretty much unfazed by anything I say or do.
And y’all, I really don’t want to act like my mom and try to commandeer my niece’s upbringing. But if any more spirits start demanding her attention, I may have to step in. I just feel like her secular Buddhist/Episcopalian background isn’t really going to prepare her for an inescapable occult career. Plus, without my mom here in person to sneak her candy when her parents aren’t looking, someone has to be the terrible influence.
If anything, perhaps I can start giving her subversively metaphysical birthday and Christmas gifts that will fly under the radar and not end up requisitioned by her parents. Paperweights that double as crystal balls; Percy Jackson-themed accessories that are a wee bit too historically accurate; that sort of thing. I’ll bet I could get away with it.
And okay, fine, even if she doesn’t fling herself into Witchcraft with wild abandon like I’m secretly praying she will, she’s still very proud of her heritage, which in turn makes me proud. In fact, the last time her mom took her to a salon, the stylist ran her fingers through my niece’s hair and went, “Oh! You’re half Asian and half Irish. What a wonderful combination!”
My sister-in-law was like, “Wow, that’s amazing! How did you know she’s half Irish?” And the stylist gave her a thorough explanation of my niece’s semi-coarse hair texture and subtle red highlights. But it would have surprised me not at all if she’d slammed down her comb and gone, “Honestly? It’s because the dead white lady who’s following your daughter around will not shut up about it.”