The story that appeared in the Bristol Press a few months ago made me think that such a thing as occurred to me when I saw the movie might be possible. An ancient Englishman had shown up at the Bristol Town Hall, claiming a woman who’d everyone had known as Letty Kosloski was really his sister, Elizabeth, Lady Batstow.
Apparently, the gamekeeper on their estate in pre-World War Two Britain fell for Elizabeth in a bad way, and when he’d been banished here, along with whatever else they did to gamekeepers back then who weren’t in D.H. Lawrence novels, he somehow managed bring her to America. In England, it seemed that she’d vanished into thin air.
But her youngest brother had never forgotten his oldest sister, and he’d traced her at last to our quiet corner of Connecticut. The fact that she was dead didn’t deter him; he’d come armed with an order for disinterrment. The whole town was abuzz with the story, for Letty Kosloski appeared as ordinary as an old shoe. Aaron Kosloski was Native on his mother’s side, and a shamanic practitioner, solitary as they come.
I’m here to take some dirt from Letty’s grave. Last week the Press had announced the results of the DNA testing. Letty Kosloski, whose weather-beaten face and accentless American offered no suggestion of a lineage any more storied than Olivia’s rescued mutt, was beyond all shadow of a doubt an English lady to the manor born.
I trudge up the path that winds between the graves, and it’s easy to see Letty’s. The opened grave is a dark gash against the green, and beside it, a muddy mound sags sadly into the long grass.
I peer into the empty hole. Rainwater’s pooled in the bottom, and I feel the soft edge give way beneath my shoe. I stumble back and nearly trip over Aaron’s headstone. Reading between the lines, I’m sure I discern some accusation of foulplay involving the “black” arts.
The children staunchly maintain their mother never mentioned a life in England, and in fact, never even claimed to be English. But no one really knew the Kosloskis, and there always was all that talk about Aaron and his ways. It was Aaron who first taught Olivia. She credits him for saving her soul, and if that’s true, then he just as surely has had a hand in saving mine. So he’s my spiritual grandfather, in a sense.
I pluck a bright yellow sunflower from the bunch, and place it gently in front of Aaron’s stone. “Grandfather,” I whisper. I ask for his assistance, and assure any spirits that might be listening that I intend nothing but the highest good for all concerned.
I feel a little swell rise up from the ground beneath my feet and the air surrounding me thickens almost imperceptibly. I feel a gentle stroke like a feather down the back of my neck, and the softest kiss of a breeze on my cheek. “Thank you,” I say.
I whisper a similar little prayer over the hole where Letty’s body rested. Enough of her essence has gone into the earth, after twenty years, I think, to be effective. She’d been buried in a plain pine box that had almost splintered apart when it was raised.
I gently place a trowelful in a zip-lock freezer bag. I throw the flowers into the grave, and they land at the bottom with a splash, and float for a few moments before they disappear. It pleases me to think my offering’s been accepted and as I turn to leave, I think I smell the scent of burning sweet-grass on the wet wind.