It was a summer day with a menacing sky that threatened severe thunder storms. I’d been running errands all day and had hoped to make it back home before the rain, but lines at the post office and grocery store were longer than usual, and the tourist traffic in my small mountain town was bumper to bumper. Dropping by the public library was the last thing on my “to do” list. I was tempted to put it off, but the books that I wanted had been on reserve for more than a week.
Just as I was ready to exit the library with my books in hand, a loud clap of thunder shook the windows and the power went out. I glanced out of the windows to see the rain coming down in diagonal sheets. Lightning and thunder seemed to compete with the furious wind, swaying the electric and telephone wires. Trees waved their branches back and forth in the air, looking as though they might snap at any moment. I decided to sit in the lobby to wait out the storm. In the darkness, the library had become quieter than usual, with librarians speaking in hushed tones and stamping books.
Suddenly, I thought of the sheets I’d left hanging out on the clothesline. They would be soaking wet when I got home. Having a clothesline took me back to long, hot nostalgic childhood summers when my grandmother and I would hang the laundry in her backyard, very early in the morning, and then rush out to quickly bring them inside at the first sign of an afternoon storm. Although my grandmother had passed on decades earlier, I still thought of her almost everyday and missed her. Earlier that same day, I’d read in the paper that Hillary Clinton would be running for president, and I remembered how my grandmother was such an advocate for women’s rights.
As I was thinking about these things, I noticed a woman gazing out of the lobby doors, as though waiting for a ride. Where had she come from? I wondered. She hadn’t been there when I sat down in the darkened lobby, but then I shrugged it off. After all, I had been deep in thought and looking out the window. Her hair was snow white, in a neat coil at the nape of her neck, and she stood very straight, with her shoulders back. I almost gasped aloud as she turned around and looked at me. She bore a striking resemblance to my grandmother. Her demeanor was calm and she wore a neat little navy blue dress and a red print scarf that reminded me of something from the 1920s.
She walked over and took a seat directly across from me. The subtle scent of roses filled the air and I immediately noticed her sparkling wire-framed glasses. They were very similar to the ones my grandmother wore. I had always loved my grandmother’s glasses! Although she wore this particular style of frames long before Harry Potter was created, a child I suspected that her sparkling specs might have carried a bit of magic. Once, when I hinted at this possibility, she just laughed. She told me that someday I could have her glasses, and if there was any magic left in them, I could use it as I saw fit. When my grandmother passed away, I wanted her glasses as a keepsake but, in the whirlwind settlement of her estate, they were misplaced.
The lady and I made polite conversation and she asked if I was waiting for a ride. I told her that I was waiting for the storm to subside so that I could walk out to my car. She laughed, telling me that I sounded like a sensible young woman. I told her that she bore a striking resemblance to my late grandmother and she seemed very pleased to hear this. I also told her about my grandmother’s glasses—how she promised them to me, but they were misplaced. I also mentioned that my grandmother had been strongly influenced by the writings of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, preeminent advocates of women’s rights. Grandmother strongly believed that women should be allowed to excel in business, hold political positions, and reap the same opportunities that were reserved for men.
“I agree with her wholeheartedly. By the way,” she asked, leaning slightly forward in her chair, “did your grandmother wear hats?” “Oh yes,” I said. “She never left the house without wearing a hat and gloves."
“Look in one of her hatboxes for the glasses,” she said. “I just feel very confident that you will find them there.”
I was stunned by her suggestion. I couldn’t remember whether or not I had any of my grandmother’s old hatboxes, but I promised to take a look when I got home. I also told her that the clothesline would be ruined in this terrible storm.
“Oh, I doubt it,” she said, with twinkling eyes. “Storms have a way of skipping certain things altogether. Sometimes, during a hurricane, everything in a neighborhood will be destroyed while one of the houses will remain with the porch furniture untouched.
“Would you like a ride somewhere?” I asked, seeing that the rain had almost stopped.
“That would be very sweet of you, my dear” she said.
I asked her to wait for me at the door while I pulled the car around to pick her up. It was still sprinkling rain, and I noticed that she did not have an umbrella. As I walked to my car, I glanced back and she smiled and raised her hand in a wave. So much like my grandmother, I thought, as I jumped into the car. As I drove up to the entrance, I didn’t see her anywhere so I beeped my horn. She didn’t come out. Finally, after waiting a minute or two longer, I turned off the engine and hurried into the library to get her. The power was now back on and I looked carefully throughout the library, but she was nowhere to be found. I asked one of the librarians if she had seen the lady that I’d talked with for over an hour.
She seemed puzzled.
“I saw you sitting there in the lobby during the storm,” she said, “and I heard you quietly talking, but I didn’t see anyone else there with you. In fact, I thought you were talking to someone on your cell phone.”
I walked out of the library in shock. When I arrived home, I hurried into the backyard, my clothesline was dry! I remembered what the lady at the library had said about storms as I took my clothes into the house.
Later, that same day, I was rummaging through my closet and I happened to notice a big box that was sitting on the top of my closet shelf. Curious, I pulled it down, dragging it over to the bed. To my surprise, inside the cardboard box there was a lovely old hat box wrapped in tissue paper. I opened it reverently and the fragrance of rose perfume staggered my senses as I looked through the items that had belonged to my grandmother— a pair of silk gloves, some hair combs, and several brooch pins. Then, a chill went down my back as I discovered, in the bottom of the box, a red print silk scarf exactly like the one that my friend in the library had been wearing! The scarf was wrapped neatly around a small case. My heart was beating with excitement when I opened it to find my grandmother’s glasses in excellent condition, though she had died thirty twenty five years earlier. I was stunned.
Was the lady at the library an angel or was she my grandmother herself, coming back to give me comfort when I needed it? Perhaps someday, after my life has ended on this planet, I will cross over into that other dimension and my grandmother will sit down with me. Until then, I will cherish the glasses and the little red scarf, knowing angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven (with my grandmother at the helm) is cheering me on.