Monday, November 8, 2010
The Thanksgiving Natalie Wood "haunted" me.
After Suzanne Finstad’s “Natasha” was published in 2001, I got real busy on GNGS. I had met Dr. Lyndon Taylor and he helped me tremendously as he was a true turning point for GNGS. But after the 9/11 tragedy, coupled with a job change and some family things going on, I put GNGS on the back burner. I had hoped Suzanne’s accurate timeline in “Natasha” would surely serve Natalie’s case but the 9/11 tragedy superceded most everything in our lives then.
Time got away from me. In 2003, I realized that I was hardly thinking about GNGS so I gave it some effort. I wanted to finish for Natalie’s memory but I hadn’t been talking with Dennis much, and was busy with so many other things. By 2005, GNGS was about the last thing I was able to fit into my busy schedule. On Thanksgiving Evening 2005, I hadn’t realized it until something strange happened, but I hadn't even though about Natalie that day.
First, I want to clarify that I’m only relatively superstitious, meaning I’ll knock on wood occasionally, and I won’t open an umbrella in the house. It would take A LOT to have me believe something supernatural or eerie. But, there’s simply NO explanation for what happened on Thanksgiving Night 2005.
I had company for Thanksgiving that day, and my daughter and daughter-in-law decided to spend the night so we could go shopping early on Black Friday. It was a habit in my home to watch “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” on Thanksgiving evenings. (I’m a huge fan of both Steve Martin and the late John Candy and the movie always makes me laugh and choke-up.)
Before starting the movie, I went upstairs to get a few blankets. Normally, I would’ve fetched blankets from a closet. Instead, even after I had the closet door open, I went to the spare bedroom and flipped on the light switch. I had been in the attic a few days earlier and brought down four small boxes of various holiday items that hadn’t been touched since 1993 when I moved to my home here. I had stacked the boxes on a chair in the spare room, on top of blankets, and left them there. When I went to pick up the lightweight boxes to place on the dresser, I picked up all four of them at once, but somehow they separated and one box was left on the chair. Staring up at me, on top of the box left on the chair was this posted photograph here of Natalie! (Oddly, with a torn part of the photo on her cheek!)
I literally jumped back, because I knew instantly that the photo had NEVER been with these boxes, and there was absolutely no explanation for how the photo could’ve found its way between these very old boxes! I couldn't recall the last time I had seen it, but it was definitely downstairs, probably in my office years ago. The photo had been given to me by Carol Lallier after she visited California to visit Natalie’s grave many years AFTER these four boxes went into the attic and never came down. I never kept any of my book materials, photos, or items in the attic, or in the spare room.
As I was alone upstairs in the bedroom, seeing the photo of Natalie gave me chills. I felt as if Natalie had found a way of reminding me that it was Thanksgiving Day and I hadn’t even thought of her, as if she were sending me a message to not forget about her. I paid attention.
Because this peculiar, unexplainable incident happened on Thanksgiving evening, it was especially compelling. I felt guilty and I teared-up. And there hasn’t been a day since then that I haven’t dedicated a portion of my day, small or large in some form or another, to finishing GNGS for Natalie. I brought the photo downstairs with me that night, put it in front of my computer, and it has remained there to this very minute I removed it only to scan it in to present here.
For the life of me, I’ll never be able to figure out how that photo got where I found it. Along with the combination of events that took me to the photo that night, I’ll always wonder.
Sometimes wake-up calls come in strange ways.