Life after death? Let’s face it, there is just the one way to find out for sure. But here is a story.
My elderly father is no longer able to drive, so he has kindly given his car to my daughter Lauren.
It was off the road for so long that a new MOT was required. Lauren’s husband Chris drove it to a nearby garage four mornings ago for the test.
Chris walked back to Dad’s house to pass the time. He sat in his own vehicle on the driveway. In his own words, “I had this insanely cold chill pass through me so I tried to put my passenger window up and it wouldn’t budge. Took a few tries then it went up really slowly. Thought nothing of it.”
He tells more of the story: “After it passed, and I went to collect the car, I 100% checked around the car for damage and such and the windows were all shut. On the drive back, I had no radio or fans going (to hear the engine) and I would have heard the back passenger window go down. But I didn’t. I was really confused as to how it was open when I turned off the engine on the driveway but, again, thought nothing of it.”
Something else he noticed was a craving for a cigarette. “I even told Lauren while I was waiting that I had the biggest urge in my life to go and buy a pack of fags. It took a lot of determination not to visit the newsagents just down the road.”
Later that day, I went online and taxed the newly-tested Nissan Almera, so that it could be driven away. Then I went to Dad’s. I parked my Ford Focus next to the Nissan, shut the driver’s window, and locked the car.
When Dad was up, I looked out of the window and saw that Chris had come to collect the Nissan. He was checking under the bonnet. A minute or two later, the alarm went off on my car.
I went downstairs, opened the front door, and was about to unlock and re-lock my car – to disable the alarm – when my eyes did a double take.
All four of the windows were open. The only way to open them is manually, from within the car. WTF? But the priority was to stop the alarm, so, like Chris, I didn’t dwell on it.
Chris later reasoned that all of these car windows opening for no reason constituted a pattern. He told the entire story to Lauren later and she said: “Maybe Nanny was trying to have a cigarette.”
My mum died 15 years ago, when she was still regularly driving the Almera. Mum loved to smoke. If lighting up in the car, she would open a window. In the years after her death, I would detect a faint smell of tobacco in my study.
I do try and keep her memory alive. Every new moon, such as today, I light a candle for her, and will make an offering before her photo of (variously) coffee, cake and cigarettes – some of her favourite treats.
A few days before the car incident, she had appeared in one of my meditations, wearing sunglasses. I have no idea what to make of that. A few months back, I was meditating at Dad’s while he was asleep. Something quite solid, like a hand, very lightly and quite tenderly brushed my neck and shoulder.
If you buy into the ‘ghost’ theory (and it is tempting), was Mum saying a clumsy hello from a ‘between-worlds’ zone? Opening ‘windows’ into wherever or whatever she is? Trying to keep them open? I would have to consider those ideas. Car windows are not designed to open themselves.
Was she sadly protesting the loss of one of the last legacies of her 43-year marriage to Dad? Some of her bits and pieces (shopping receipts, vehicle vacuum cleaner) were still in the car when it finally left Dad’s front drive.
Was she telling Lauren and Chris to look after the car? Wishing them courage and luck in the years ahead?
Who knows? Nobody. But contemplating these things made me feel unexpectedly happy and buoyant.
Here’s the Almera, sitting outside its new home.
PS. The first two letters and the last on the numberplate include both my consecutive initials (Kevin Lawrence Godier) and Lauren’s (Lauren Rose Godier). For what it’s worth.