I recently started listening to a YouTube channel, Answers with Joe. It is a fun channel where this guy, Joe Scott, talks about a plethora of topics with a great point of view; just a really well-rounded storyteller. ￼I find myself listening to video after video because it’s so entertaining and highly informative. One of the episodes I caught up on today was from Halloween 2019, about apparitions and ‘why’ we as humans believe we see them. Listening to this episode led me to think about my own experiences. I have had weird phenomena happen to me but I have one incident, in particular, that I hold dear. It’s kinda spooky, and it is a true story. And it is a great one to share today!!
My husband and I got married in 2001.￼ A quick backstory, when we got married we had moved into an apartment in Medford that was previously rented by my two older sisters; who had lived there for about a year and a half￼.
The opportunity was perfect for us, and the apartment was huge. It was on the second floor of a duplex right on Main Street in Medford. It was a great one level layout with two good sized bedrooms with closets, a dining room and a living room-both with huge windows. Then there was a humongous walk in closet with an enclosed porch. There was also a three season porch at the back with a spot to hang laundry and an extra closet. This apartment was for a family really. The apartment was owned by an older couple from Stoneham. They were a quirky couple. The husband kind of looked like a skinny version of Walt Disney, he was so passive and never did anything without his wife’s direction. His wife was kind of like a New England version of Judge Judy, just not such a nice lady, but we got along with her.
On the first floor of the duplex lived an elderly woman, Stella. Stella was a tiny 80-year-old woman with large blue eyes and bouffant blonde tinted hair who looked like Angela Lansbury; if Angela was under 5 feet tall￼. ￼￼ Stella lived in that house, on the first floor, for many decades, so I knew her a tad from my times hanging out at my sisters’ upstairs.. which was now ours! Stella was a widow, she had moved in on that first floor when she and her husband were newlyweds; her husband passed away young and she never remarried.
My husband and I acquired the apartment in August, but we didn’t officially move in until after our wedding in September. Though in that month we had all of our stuff moved in, painted, had our friends in and out as we spent a lot of time in the apartment before we moved in together.
This means I had never lived outside of my family home before marriage or lived in a space without my whole family. The thought of being in that apartment felt very uneasy at times because I never had done it. AND I had never lived with or near an elderly person in my life. My great fear was that Stella was going to die on me. Not literally ON me, but I would talk about what if I would find her dead or something in the yard, or what if she just dropped dead sporadically and I would find her..or she was left dead for days in her apartment?? What if she died and I was home!??
Yes I have always been this macabre!￼
That feeling lessened after some time, however. Stella was a spark of sunshine. Every time I was outside, which we were always in the yard, she would lean in her apartment window to have a chat. She was so sweet. I grew very fond of Stella. She was like this little old aunt that I felt really happy to know but inside, that stupid dark little voice always reminded me that, you know, Stella’s old.
We always tried to be helpful with her so she didn’t have to strain herself. Also, we tried to talk with her as often as we could so she felt in good company. A lot of nice coincidences happened with Stella too. Like one day I was going through the front closet upstairs and I had found a painting jammed in the corner. It was cute but not too cute for our apartment but I knew the best place for it. In the entryway that we shared with Stella. My hammering hanging up the painting brought her to out of her apartment to investigate. She saw the painting in my hand and lost it. It was a painting that her husband had done of a woody area at sunset. So weird it was up in our closet but I think I really made her day by displaying it there￼!
Anyways, one of my favorite things was the night before trash day. Either my husband or I, or both of us, would knock on Stella’s backdoor to ask her for her trash and if she needed help with anything. ￼ ￼We never went into her apartment, but we could see it from the door. It was still set back in the 1950’s with pink and white check tiles in the kitchen; very vintage.
She loved the night before trash night￼, too. She would talk to us in her doorway about her life and most of all, her husband, who shared my husband’s name. She often would say, ‘my husband would’ve loved you kids living downstairs from us’. And when she learned my husband worked for a local museum she lost it because that was her husband’s favorite place. So she felt very connected to us.
So, my husband and I were only married a few days before 9/11 happened. We got married, went on our honeymoon and woke up that first morning in our apartment to the horrific news. The world was on edge.. we were on edge.. the destruction was the conversation piece everywhere we went. What was made worse was that we weren’t even married for a few weeks before my husband had to take a trip for work; where he had to fly to Arizona for two nights. So …immediately my heart sank thinking about him flying, but he had to go.
My mom, knowing the chicken side of me, asked if I wanted to sleep over her house for the two days as I also worked nearby. Now, I got married at 25. I wasn’t a baby but I was a big baby! But I didn’t want to go over there because it was just two nights and I just had to face being on my own, like by myself. So, I told her no. I don’t remember where any of my friends were at the time but I remember I occupied myself with work and chores around the house.
The first day passed, no problem. The second day, too. On that second night, I decide to do laundry. We had our own washer and dryer in the basement (down three flights of stairs). I had washed and folded all of our clothes then place the two laundry baskets of his clothes in the spare bedroom that he used as a closet; one basket on top of the other because one was half empty. Not to long after that, I turned on the TV in our bedroom and fell asleep soundly.
I had a crazy dream this night. In my dream I was laying with my legs straight down the bed though I was laying on my side. Then I felt a strange man in my presence and he sat on my bed next to me. He caressed my back in a very loving manner, like a grandfather would have, and he said to me, ‘don’t worry about anything.. everything is gonna be all right’. And when I opened my eyes in my dream, I saw an older man wearing an oatmeal colored cardigan with those wooden buttons that look like they were made out of leather, something a grandfather would wear. And he kind of looked like a fifty year old Ed McMahon. Yes, everyone I see I try to match up with celebrities. You know to play them in the movie of my life. So, this guy is on my bed in this dream and I soon felt like I wasn’t dreaming. So I threw my knee to knock this man off my bed. I recall doing it with an expression of like who the hell are you? As he fell to the ground in my dream I heard a thud ￼￼￼￼￼in real life!! I woke up from the dream realizing that I heard the sound and immediately freak out! I start to check the house for possible issues…the front door, the back door, the windows – all locked safely. I went into my husband’s room and I see the laundry basket that was propped on top of the other laundry basket had fallen onto the floor. So that’s what the sound was in my dream￼. Phew!
The dream felt so real.
My husband returned home the next evening, and we planned to go out for dinner. When he got home, I had mentioned my very uneventful weekend and weird dream. It was eerie to tell to him about that dream. Because it felt so real.
As we left the apartment for dinner, we both realized it was trash night. So we reminded each other to swing by Stella’s. As we were walking down our stairs to her door, we found her standing there. This is where the story gets strange… I know, you probably thought Stella was dead, right?? Well she was alive. Vibrant with her beautiful blue eyes, standing in the doorway of her kitchen. We smile, say hello and ask her if she has trash. She returns with a hi then she smiles just at me. She gently, with her frailness, took me by the hand. She asks me to come inside because there’s something ‘special’ that I needed to see.
I have no clue what’s happening but I follow her; well, she is leading me by my hand. I got to walk through the 50s pink kitchen into her bedroom, which was right underneath my husband’s room. Her furniture in her bedroom was stuck in time, it was 1950 in there, too. All the furniture was light wood veneer, so modern. Her full-sized bed was draped in a beige bedspread. I looked across the room, noticing her matching doilies on top of her furniture. One was topped with a dainty watch. She let go of my hand to grab something from her bedside table. She walked over to me with a small frame. As she hands it to me, she says, ‘I believe you need to see this?’.
I look at the picture in disbelief. I look at my husband with complete shock.￼ Stella had just handed me a picture of her husband. Who was the elderly man from my dream￼￼￼!!
It was the most bizarre feeling I ever had. I’ve never had anything like that happen to me before and I’ve never had anything like it since. I am sure there is some logical explanation. Maybe Stella had supersonic hearing and heard me talking to my husband? Maybe Stella just really wanted me to see a picture of her husband that night. But the how of him appearing in my dream, not knowing what he looked like before?? Maybe Stella was supernatural and spelled me to see her husband? Just kidding!
I wouldn’t share the story if my husband wasn’t there to experience it with me that night. He hears me tell the story once in a while and he backs it up every time. It was surreal and neither of us knew what to think of it.
Stella, now that I look back, would always tell me about her husband and how much he would’ve loved having me and my husband there at the apartment with them. They never had children. She would always share stories that her husband was also an artist like mine. They shared the same name, they shared the same hobbies and interest and I think she just placed herself wondering what it would’ve been like to have children. I hope we did give her the feeling of being protected while she was there with us.
I always felt good living in that apartment after that night. Like her husband was watching over us for looking out for her. It was a fair trade, right?
One last thing.
About seven months after that night, in late May, my husband had an overnight work trip he had to go on. I took my mom up on her offer to sleep at her house this time. Just to make her happy. That was the night that Stella died.
Like she had waited for me to not be home alone.
Thank you, Stella xo. I often think of you in the fondest way.