Some years ago now I was working as a carer for an elderly lady named Ella. Ella was a lady in her early 80’s, and was sprightly, cheery and bright. She was a delight to work for. I’d visit her twice a week to help out with domestic duties and to ensure that she was eating regularly and doing well health-wise.
Upon my second visit, I was washing up some dishes in the kitchen when I heard Ella greeting someone in her lounge-room. I hadn’t heard either the front or back doors open, so wondered who she was speaking to. I made my way into the room where Ella was knitting up squares to sew together as blankets for children in third-world countries. She sat serenely with a soft smile on her lips. I asked her who she’d been speaking to and with a cheeky grin she said, “Gerry ... my husband. He drops in everyday to visit with me.” I quickly glanced around the room but there was no one to be seen. I was a little baffled so just smiled at Ella and went back to washing the dishes.
Once back at the sink I heard Ella say softly, “she can’t see you remember ...” She then let out a low chuckle, and I simply let it slide and went on to dry and stack the dishes away. I thought no more of it and left soon after.
The following Tuesday Ella greeted me at the door with a smile and let me in. After chatting for 5 minutes or so I went off to do my chores. A little later I walked past the loungeroom doorway to hang out Ella’s washing and heard and saw her merrily chatting away to the recliner next to her. I paused briefly as she continued talking to the chair, then felt a little self-conscious so scurried off outside. I wondered if maybe Ella was going a little senile and felt sorry for her.
Over the following weeks every time I went to Ella’s I’d catch her talking to no one ... or at least I thought it was no one. I ended up speaking to the supervisor at the agency I worked for. Surprisingly to me, she knew all about it and went on to tell me that the ‘Gerry’ Ella was always talking to was her husband who’d passed away over 10 years ago. Ella had been having conversations with him ever since and all of her carers over the years had witnessed it. Well at least that explained it ... sort of.
Back at Ella’s the following week I walked into the loungeroom and sat down next to her, taking a breather between chores. Suddenly I heard a man’s voice clear as a bell, right next to my ear, saying “Hi Anne-Marie”. I just about jumped out of my skin and felt goose-bumps spread up my arms and down my back. I looked around wildly but no one else was in the room but me and Ella. Ella laughed out loud and lay her hand on my knee. “Don’t fret dear,” she said “it’s just Gerry saying hello.” She smiled sweetly as though there was nothing at all odd about a voice coming out of nowhere. I didn’t know where to look, what to say or what to do. I quickly got up and went back to my chores, feeling more than a little uncomfortable and jittery for the rest of the afternoon, and it kept playing on my mind the rest of the night and beyond.
I didn’t really want to work for Ella after that day, eventhough she was a lovely lady. I went there out of a sense of obligation, but I was never comfortable in her house after that. I tried to put it out of my mind whenever I went there, but it always creeped me out every time I heard her chatting away to ‘Gerry’. I tried to stay out of the loungeroon as much as possible and just tried to ignore it as best I could.
One afternoon my husband came home to tell me that he got the promotion he’d been after. It would mean that we had to move to another town, but after working at Ella’s over the months I was ready for a change.
I informed the agency and Ella the following day and put in my resignation. Ella said she’d be sad to see me go, but understood and was pleased about my husband’s promotion. The following Tuesday would be my final day working at Ella’s place.
I arrived early to make sure that everything was in order and to spend a little time with Ella before leaving for good. 10 minutes or so after greeting Ella at the door I was walking down the hallway, washing basket in hand, and saw a man walk past making his way into the loungeroom. He went and sat down right next to Ella on the recliner beside her. She looked at him and smiled, then leaned over to give him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Hello Gerry’ she said.
I just stood there staring as the man slowly vanished right in front of my eyes although Ella continued chatting away to him. I dropped the washing basket on the spot and the next thing I knew I was in my car, backing out the driveway as quickly as I could.
I never went back to Ella’s house and we moved away three days later. I haven’t had any experiences like that since, but I’ve never forgotten it.