Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Tennants

When mother was a little girl, she had a grandmother named "Granny Let." My mother has shared many stories about she and Granny through the years and I have always enjoyed hearing them. I'm not sure how it came to be, but somehow, Granny Let and her husband lived on top of White Oak Mountain and ran a hotel that was there sometime back in the early 1900's. My mother's mom and Granny Let's daughter, Hannah Arledge Williams, died when mother was three years old. I suppose Granny must have stepped in and tried to fill that void for mother and gave her plenty of special attention. Granny would walk all the way down the mountain to get my mother and together walk back up the mountain. Mother tells of the time that Granny had bought her a bag of candy and a hole came in it and when she got to the top, she only had one or two pieces left. She would tire of walking and Granny would call her a "little booger" and assure her that it wouldn't be long until they arrived. They would sit and while resting, Granny would tell her stories about the tennants at the hotel. When Granny Let was dying, she sent for mother to come and be with her while she passed.

Last winter, mother began telling me and others that she had a tennant in her basement. She described him as a hunter with a little boy. Now, we all know that it has been proven that it's better to just go along with a Dementia patient when they start talking about things beyond comprehension. But for me, that's like telling me to wear my right shoe on my left foot. I could do it, but it just wouldn't feel right. Unless the need is great, I will argue with mother and try to make her understand that what she is seeing or thinking is crazy! I have noticed that it's easier for the men folks to go along with her ramblings than it is for the women for some reason.

One morning when I arrived, mother told me that she had been down and saw where the "hunter" had hung his clothes near the woodstove to dry. As predicted, I started in telling her that there was no such thing as a hunter in her basement and no one could possibly get in there since the door was locked. Of course, this led to a firestorm of emotions and accusations. One weekend my brother and sister were visiting and mother was telling them of the hunter, so they decided to take her down and prove to her that there had been no hunter there. This still didn't help. Later on she began saying that he had a little boy with him as well.

One night mother told that she heard the basement door open and a child's voice asking to go to the bathroom. Mother has always kept her bedroom door locked ever since the death of her late husband. She continued on that her bedroom door knob began to turn so she decided to get out of bed and go see who it was and what they wanted. When she opened the door, there stood the little boy, but he was unable to talk to her. She showed me the motions that he made with his hands. It reminded me of an umpire calling you out on base. If I ever thought that I would spend the night with mother again, this for sure sealed it for me. As I have mentioned time and time again, I am a total coward and this wasn't helping my condition. The strange thing about all this, is that mother somehow rationalized this by saying that they had probably come to rent a room and the little boy was just running up and down the hall turning doorknobs, and not thinking about waking somebody up. This activity went on for months, mother asking me on several occasions if she should call "the law" and have them to get those people out of her basement. One thing I need to say here, is that mother's hallucinations evolve. One day, she may see a hunter, the next, he would have a child, but then later it would be someone else. She also believed that her basement had bedrooms, bathrooms and basically an entire living quarters in it. Even though her seeing otherwise, she still would continue to believe what her demented mind would tell her.

I have often wondered if mother had made these characters up in her mind from years gone by. Was there a hunter who had stopped by with a little boy and she and her husband Yates had let them come in and warm by the fire. And possibly, as that little girl who was spending the night at the hotel with her Granny awakened in the middle of the night by a little child turning her doorknob? Whatever the answer is to all this confusion, mother eventually chose to let go of the hunter and little boy after months of playing their landlord.

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