This was just another Saturday morning, much like any other Saturday or so I thought. Isn’t it funny how life can throw you curve balls faster than Sandy Koufax? The phone rang at quarter past nine and my close friend Robin asked me to drive with her on the two and a half hour trek to her sister Carol’s home in Frankfort, Kentucky. Why not, I thought. My husband Randy was working on his tractors and would be gone most of the day. I love spontaneity. Not sure where that comes from, but it’s always been in my nature. “Sure! I’m up for a road trip” I said, “Come get me”.
The drive was pleasant, spent in idle chitchat about the past week’s events. Before we realized it, we were pulling into the gated entrance to Carol’s estate. I’ve been here a couple of times before and always enjoyed the visits. There is a familiar feeling about the area and the grounds of their 11 acre palatial estate. I cannot put my finger on anything specific. I just chalk it up to how Carol and her husband John, always referred to as “the Judge”, know how to make folks feel welcome; Southern hospitality at its finest.
As we walked through the kitchen door there was a foreboding I had never experienced here before. Robin and Carol went into the dining room while the Judge and I exchanged pleasantries. Within minutes, Robin was back in the kitchen and said Carol wanted to speak to me alone. I was not at all wary, even as strange as this seemed to me.
Carol confided to me that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was asking me to come live with them as their caregiver for what she was told could be one to six months. Without hesitation I said yes, and not surprisingly, without consulting my husband. Spontaneity!
I was back in Frankfort within the week with three changes of clothes and a few of my favorite books. We started the routine of settling in and preparing for her departure from this life. In my mind, life has always had a fleeting, ethereal quality to it. I guess that is why spontaneity makes so much sense for me.
I have been living here for three months now without leaving the property for more than 2 hours at any given stretch. My life has settled into the routine of a caregiver and I cannot explain how contented I have become here or that I feel no need to socialize outside of this confined area.
The time spent here has brought back a memory I had almost forgotten, but it is becoming very pertinent to the core of my story. Two years earlier as Randy and I sat on a small airplane for our annual trip to Las Vegas, the stewardess asked for two volunteers to move towards the back of the plane. Randy took the first open seat and I continued to the back toward another seat. A nice looking middle-aged man smiled warmly and offered me the seat next to him. As the flight got underway, a strange conversation began to unfold. He told me he knew me from a past life; we were both women then. I listened with skepticism, but politeness. I told him I had no remembrance of a past life and with my being a born again Christian, that information didn’t really fit into my belief system. He just smiled and said “You will remember someday”. I relayed the conversation to Randy as we rejoined each other in the airport and throughout the ride to the hotel. He just rolled his eyes and we haven’t spoken of it again.
Today, as I am relaying this story, Carol has been gone just over a month. She asked me in her last days of life to stay with the Judge until he passed over. I promised her I would. She was 66 and he is 98 as of August 6th. That makes him 98 and a half! When I told my husband of my promise, he was stunned. “He could live to be a 100 or more”, he exclaimed. I have no understanding of why I made that promise, but at that moment, it seemed important for me to do so.
I have been given a draft of a book to read about this estate’s history and it is as if I knew what was going to be in the next paragraph. This property had been settled in the late 1700’s by a man named Judge Harry Innes. There are gravestones of five members of his family buried within 35 feet of the kitchen door. There are also the gravestones of three dogs that Judge Innes had cherished. They had been given to him by Thomas Jefferson. As part of my daily duties I walk Happy, the Judge’s Labrador, three times each day. What an appropriate name for this gentle animal. As we investigate these grounds together, I am filled with a sense of having walked here those many years ago. The words I spoke on the airplane came back to me about being a born again Christian.
Yes, I am a Christian, but I am coming to believe that I have lived here before. I am being filled with a knowing peace about my journey back to Kentucky.When the time comes, my purpose here having been fulfilled, I will return to my husband knowing that I have been “born again”.
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