The Visitor


We all grow up with the weight of history on us.
Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains
as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden
in every cell of our bodies.
Shirley Abbott, magazine editor and writer
1934 –

I have written before about this old lady who seems to inhabit my house alongside Lotte and me.  I haven’t invited her in, but wherever I go she is there before me.  When I go into the bathroom she is looking at me where the mirror is supposed to be.  I pass along the hall and there she is again.  She’s in the bedroom, the living room and at the front door.  I don’t know who she is or why she is living in my house.

Cross Old Woman

She doesn’t even appear to be happy that she is getting free board and lodging without having been invited.  And she has never heard the expression that guests are like fish – great on the first day, getting a little stale on the second and definitely off by the third.

So why is she here?  And today I even saw her at a friend’s house.  Is she stalking me? She was in the car on the way home getting a free ride.  But the most worrying thing is that I am the only one who ever sees her.  When I ask a family member they tell me that they can only see me.  So what’s going on here?

Seriously though, I remember somebody saying to my late husband when we decided to get married “Look at her mother.  That’s how she will look when she is older.”  And goodness me, that is coming true.  I always thought that I looked like my father but not any more.

And I hear myself saying some of the things she used to say and even doing things her way.  So is it genetics or learned behaviour?  I haven’t lived in the same house as Mother for 55 years and  she has been dead for 16 of those years.  Added to that I haven’t even lived in the same country for most of my adult life, so where does this come from? (Yes I know, grammatically incorrect but it reads better this way).

And then looking at the next generation.  I see my own daughter saying and doing things in the same way that my Mother used to and that I now do.  So like the family face some other things are passed down through the generations.

And the family face – here’s the first verse of the poem by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928):

I am the family face;
Flesh perishes, I live on,
Projecting trait and trace
Through time to times anon,
And leaping from place to place
Over oblivion.

So where is this rambling post taking me?  I don’t know but know it must end here.

“And now
as the water cascades and tumbles
over the rocks in its rush
down to join the river
so my thoughts tumble around my brain
looking for an outlet
or a safe place to stop.”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, Mother, Grandmother and Friend 1938 –

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33 responses to “The Visitor

  1. I know how you feel … there’s an old lady living in my house too. A couple of weeks ago she made me jump when I looked at my new glasses in the mirror ! She must be having a worrying time, I spotted her on a couple occasions through the “soft focus” of my old glasses, but now that I have the new ones, I can see how many more wrinkles and grey hairs she’s gained recently. I might feel sorry for her if she hadn’t been around the house putting cobwebs and dust in all the places that I couldn’t see with the old glasses.

  2. It is a fascinating thing how expressions and mannerisms, as well as looks, are passed on through the generations. I’m wondering if we send the old lady who lives, room and board free, in our homes, for a makeover though?

  3. Love that first quote.

  4. I recognize that visitor too. She visits me often. In fact, she is here all the time now and stalking me. I love this amazing post Judith.

  5. Reblogged this on Technicolor Day Dreams and commented:
    This somewhat unwelcome visitor is stalking me now too. Judith’s oh–so-clever post, The Visitor, is well worth sharing.

  6. Oh, my! I have a similar visitor at my house and she won’t leave. Good post!

  7. Who sent the one that’s camping out in my house? I don’t use the “O*d” word. Threw that OUT of my dictionary. She look somewhat familiar but is a pain to look at. . .

    • My grandsons will tell you there are 2 three letter words we don’t use around Grandma – age and the other one I used in this blog. Apologies. I wont use it again!

  8. I see the semblance of my late mother-in-law in my wife and as you say I see my daughters too behave like the departed old lady.

  9. It’s fate that we all turn into our mothers – good and bad. Love the poems and comments.

  10. Christine in Los Angeles

    I look more and mmore like Grandma Levy, and Vanessa wears the fface and mannerisms of Jack’s sister. The family face, indeed.
    God bless, Christine

    • Thanks big sister. I always thought you resemble Dad’s side of the family but you say otherwise. And you always said Vanessa had inherited many things from our Mum. Love you. 🙂

  11. Love this post, Judith. I think I’ve seen that woman here, too. And I see the traits of earlier generations of our family in the current one. Great quotes.

  12. There is an old lady like that here. But she only pops in now and then…mostly in the early morning and sometimes just before a nap.

  13. This post would have been more convincing if I hadn’t just seen your photo with Andy . . . you young whippersnapper! 😉

  14. i know just what you mean. Sometimes when I peer out of the window with slightly scrunched eyes because my glasses are elsewhere, clutching a cup of coffee I suddenly realise that isjust what my mother sed to do. Eerie and comforting at the same time don’t you think

    • Yes it is comforting and of course, our children and grandchildren are where we are once we leave this life. Thanks for your comment. Good to see you back again. 🙂

  15. Judith, this cracked me up. My Mum sent me an email about the picture I posted from the breakfast. She wrot something along the lines of: Gosh. I look betterin my head thsn I do in real life. Good thing I’m confident in my head.
    The same is true for me.

  16. Oh gosh. I thought it was just me who had a visitor of that sort living in her home. And this:

    ” I always thought that I looked like my father but not any more.”

    All of my life I’ve been told (and so I assumed it to be true) that I look like my father, but I see my mother when I look in the mirror lately. I don’t mind. She was prettier than my father. 😉

    • Yes I think we have to take what we get. And it’s not too bad that I look like my mother now more than my father. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

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