Sunday, December 27, 2009
From Death-Bed Visions - The Psychical Experiences of the Dying by Sir William Barrett, Chapter 3 Visions seen by the Dying of Persons known by them to be Dead, and Death-Bed Visions seen by Others
In the following case which was communicated by Prof. W. C. Crosby, Associate Member, Society for Psychical Research ["Proceedings S.P.R.," Vol. VIII, pp. 229-231] the vision was seen by the nurse during the unconsciousness of the dying patient. The phantom seen was unknown to the percipient.
"Mrs. Caroline Rogers, seventy-two years old, a widow who had been twice married, and whose first husband, a Mr. Tisdale, died about thirty-five years ago, has lived on Ashland Street, in Roslindale, Mass., for the last twenty-five years; and since the death of her last child some years ago she has lived quite alone. Early in March of this year she was stricken with paralysis, and after an illness of nearly six weeks died on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 15th.
"Mrs. Mary Wilson, a professional nurse, forty five years old, attended Mrs. Rogers during her illness, remaining with her almost constantly until she died. She had never seen Mrs. Rogers before the latter's illness, and knew nothing of her family or history. Mrs. Rogers spoke frequently to Mrs. Wilson, and also to others, as had long been her custom, of her second husband, Mr. Rogers, and children, expressing a desire to see them again, etc.
"On the afternoon of April 14th, Mrs. Rogers became unconscious, and remained so all the time until her death twenty-four hours later. Mrs. Wilson sat up with her through the whole of Monday night. Mrs. Wilson's daughter Ida, twenty-five years old, kept her mother company, and a boy of ten or twelve years slept in an adjoining chamber, to be called in case of an emergency. These four were the only persons in the house. The outer doors were securely locked, the door leading from the sick chamber on the second floor into the hall was kept locked all the time because it was near the foot of Mrs. Rogers' bed; and entrance to the sick chamber was gained by passing from the upper hall into the living-room by a door which was locked that night, and thence through the chamber in which the boy slept - the two chambers having been made to communicate by cutting a door through the back of a small closet. This door was diagonally facing the bed on which Mrs. Rogers lay. Mrs. Wilson rested on a settee placed at right angles to the head of Mrs. R.'s bed, so that when lying down her face was almost directly opposite this door and not more than ten or twelve feet from it. The lamp, which burned brightly all night, stood on a small table in the corner of the room directly opposite the door; and Ida occupied a couch against the wall and between the lamp and door.
"Mrs. Wilson was pretty well worn out with her long vigil; believing that Mrs. Rogers was dying, she was naturally very nervous and timid; and having heard Mrs. R. speak frequently of seeing her departed friends, etc., she had a feeling of expectancy and dread with regard to supernatural visitations. Between two and three a.m., while her daughter was asleep, and while she was resting on the settee, but wide awake, she happened to look toward the door into the adjoining chamber and saw a man standing exactly in the doorway, the door being kept open all the time. He was middle-sized, broad-shouldered, with shoulders thrown back, had a florid complexion, reddish brown hair (bareheaded) and beard, and wore a brown sack overcoat, which was unbuttoned. His expression was grave, neither stem nor pleasant, and he seemed to look straight at Mrs. Wilson, and then at Mrs. Rogers without moving. Mrs. Wilson supposed, of course, that it was a real man, tried to think how he could have got into the house. Then, as he remained quite motionless, she began to realize that it was something uncanny, and becoming frightened, turned her head away and called her daughter, who was still asleep on the couch, awakening her. On looking back at the door after an interval of a minute or two the apparition had disappeared; both its coming and going were noiseless, and Mrs. Rogers remained perfectly quiet, and so far as could be known entirely unconscious during this time. The chamber into which this door leads being quite dark, there was no opportunity to observe whether or not the apparition was transparent. Mrs. Wilson shortly afterwards went into this chamber and the living-room, but did not examine the lower part of the house until morning, when the doors were found properly locked and everything all right.
"In the morning Mrs. Rogers' niece, Mrs. Hildreth, who lives in the neighbourhood, and has known Mrs. R. and her family for many years, called at the house. Mrs. Wilson related her experience to her and asked if the apparition resembled Mr. Rogers, and Mrs. Hildreth replied emphatically that it did not. (All who knew Mr. Rogers are agreed on this point.) Their conversation was interrupted then, but when resumed later in the day Mrs. Hildreth said that Mrs. Wilson's description agreed exactly with Mr. Tidsale, Mrs. Rogers' first husband. Mrs. Rogers came to Roslindale after marrying Mr. Rogers, and Mrs. Hildreth is the only person in that vicinity who ever saw Mr. Tisdale; and in Mrs. Rogers' house there is no portrait of him nor anything suggestive of his personal appearance. Mrs. Wilson is also very positive that the apparition was unlike anyone she ever knew.
"Mrs. Wilson has had similar experiences before, and at least one, which occurred when she was eighteen years old, which appears to have been veridical.
"The foregoing account of my experience is correct in every particular.
"(Signed) MARY WILSON"
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