The Bad Omen

I spent the summer of 1967 with my grandma and great-grandma in Cross Lanes, West Virginia. It was a fun summer, the last of three straight summer vacations I had spent "down home" at grandma's house. It was a beautiful summer evening in late August, I was sitting on grandma's front porch swing, grandma was in the back bedroom taking a nap and my great grandmother was in the living room watching television.

As I sat out on that old swing many thoughts were going through my head, my mother and father would be arriving in a day or two to take me home. School would be starting soon and I would begin junior high in a new school district. My family had moved from the city of Detroit to suburban Novi, Michigan just prior to my leaving to spend summer vacation with grandma.

As I rocked back and forth on that old porch swing I suddenly heard a loud thud coming from the rear of grandma's house. The noise was loud enough to hear outside on the front porch. fearing that my grandma had fallen I ran from the porch to investigate and saw grandma hurrying in from the back bedroom of the house. Grandma had also heard the loud noise and had thought that either great-grandma or I had fallen. We met in the living room where my great-grandma was watching T.V. and did not hear a thing.

My grandma and I proceeded into the kitchen where we discovered that the only thing out of the ordinary was that a single plate that fallen off a small shelf above the stove and had broken in half. the plate was an oversize gold plate the commemorated my great-grandmothers 80th birthday, It had all of her children's names written across the outside of the plate and my great-grandmothers name written across the front with "Happy 80th birthday Mother" written underneath. The plate had been a gift from her children who had it specially made for her. The plate had broken in half directly across my great-grandmothers name, not touching any other name on the plate.

Upon further inspection of the plate it seemed unusual that it broke so cleanly in half and did not shatter when it hit the kitchen floor. It also seemed strange that there were eight other plates on that wall, including two other plates on the same little shelf as the birthday plate, that remained undisturbed. And how did it clear the stove? that old country stove stood out from the wall a good three feet, how could a plate fall from a shelf and project itself some three feet, and not shatter in a hundred pieces!!

My grandma seemed somewhat confused by all this but after a few strange looks around the kitchen she quietly glued the plate back together and put it on a counter to dry. The next morning my parents arrived and though I had planned to tell my mother about the incident It slipped my mind until the next day when we were on our way back home to Michigan.

After relaying the story to my parents my mother told me that grandma had already told her about the plate and how she was troubled by it fearing that it could be a "bad omen". When I told my mother that grandma didn't seem all that upset at the time, she said that grandma didn't want to frighten me.

We had not been home for more than a few hours from he eight hour drive back home when my mother got a call from grandma saying that my great-grandma had a stroke and died suddenly. We had to return to West Virginia the next day for great- grandma's funeral and when we got back to grandma's house all my great aunts and uncles were all talking about the incident with the birthday plate. Was it really an omen of my great-grandmothers impending death or merely a coincidence????