I married a woman from a wealthy family who lived in a very large house called Shepherds in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, England. On June 24th, 1978, my wife’s niece Clare was to be married. It was to be a big affair and the reception was to be held in the extensive grounds of Shepherds.
At that time my wife’s mother Ethyl Arnot, a widow who has since passed away, lived in the great house with just my wife Audrey’s youngest sister. There was a second sister, Beryl, between them in age, and it was her daughter who was getting married.
The run up to the wedding was an exciting time for the women. There were to be nearly 200 guests and my mother-in-law had hired outside caterers. Once person who was looking forward to the wedding with great enthusiasm was Lillian Leslie, my mother-in-law’s lifeling friend. Lilian, also a widow, stayed so often at Shepherds that over the years I got to know her very well. In fact, I grew quite fond of her.
In many ways Lillian was an unusual woman. She played the saxophone and she organized a small band of persons as old as she was and together they played at old people’s homes — for free, of course. In addition, Lillian was a confirmed Spiritualist. Every Sunday she went to London, to Belgrave Square, which is the British headquarters of the Spiritualist movement. We often discussed the subject and once, at her insistence, I went with her to Belgrave Square. I was not impressed.
As the wedding day drew near, my mother-in-law and Lillian took themselves to London to buy new dresses for the ceremony. My wife and I were at Shepherds in the evening of that day so we watched while each lady put on her new dress for us to admire.
One week before the wedding, Lillian had a completely unexpected heart attack while staying at Shepherds and was dead when the ambulance arrived.
We were all greatly distressed, especially my mother-in-law. But of course the wedding went ahead.
As I sat in the church during the wedding ceremony, I thought of poor Lillian who had been so looking forward to the wedding. It seemed such a cruel stroke of fate that had denied her the pleasure of being there.
After the church ceremony a fleet of cars of cars took us all back to the Shepherds. A huge marquee had been erected during the days preceding the ceremony but since it was a glorious day with a bright sun shining, the caterers had placed dozens of small tables and chairs on the lawns.
I was seated at one of the tables with my wife and two daughters. The toasts were drunk and the speeches made, and when that was all over, our niece Clare and her new husband started to circulate among the guests.
I left the table and went back to the house. When I entered the bathroom, I saw — standing by the wash basin, wearing the dress she had bought for the wedding — Lillian.
I wasn’t afraid, only shocked and unable to speak. She smiled at me.
“I just had to come, George,” she said. “I couldn’t miss it, could I?”
I cannot swear that the words were said out loud. I think perhaps they were conveyed to my mind.
I still stood stood speechless and as I stared at her, she faded and was gone, I leaned against the door and found my brow was wet with sweat.
When I went downstairs and back to the table, my wide and daughters remarked at once that I looked unwell.
“I’ve just been talking to Lillian!” I blurted out.
Of course it was hopless. They didn’;t believe me and put it down to either the sun or drink. But I had had only one glass of champagne and I had not been in the sun because I prefer the shade.
Any doubts I might have had about an afterlife vanished the moment I saw Lillian.
— A true tale, by George Frampton