Transcript of Mary Ann Ross Speaking in a Leslie Flint Session
But it’s very odd. It was as if the whole room was full o’ light. And I could see all sorts o’ people around. There was my mother and my father and my brother, who’d died many years before. And Nellie.
She was a friend. One o’ ma few friends, that had died only a few weeks, they were all in the room and I thought I was having a dream, about my people. But it was Nellie, who came and she put her arms around me, and she kissed me on the face. And it was warm and real. And my mother came, she kissed me too. And they took my hands, and the next thing I know it was as if I was floating through the window, and then everything went black. I cannot remember a thing until I woke up. And I was in a bed in a very nice room, with rafters and beams and things, like an old house. But it was cozy and friendly and the sun, that I thought, was shining through the window.
And there was my mother, but she did not look the same as when I saw her in ma dream, as I thought. She looked young, as I’d seen her in the picture that used to hang in my bedroom, when she was married, many years before. And she’d got a white dress and she had a black bow ribbon in her hair, so like I’d seen her in early pictures, when I was very young. We used to have everything, collection of old photos, that mother’d keep in the tin. Yes, it was just as if I was seeing her as she was then.
She said to me that I was alright and that I’d nothing to worry about and I was not going back, and I thought this is just a dream. And then she said no, it’s not a dream, it’s real, you’re alive now, you’re not to worry about anything. And she said, soon, when you’re really recovered over this, she said, we’ll go out we’ll meet all sorts of people that you used to know when you were a wee bairn, you know, when you were young.
I could not quite see and understand, I could not realize at that stage that I was dead. It was like a beautiful dream. Then there was a dog jumped on ma bed and this really gave me a fright, in a way. Not that I was afraid of dogs, I was fond of animals, but this was a dog that we’d had many years ago, that ma father adored and that was killed by a cart, many years ago, when I was, oh, in my twenties, I suppose. And this dog we called it Nipper. And do you know, to see Nipper jump on this bed startled me and I just couldn’t realize. My mother said, of course we’ve animals here too. Ah, I thought well this is, you know, I just couldn’t understand it, if they were dead. As my mother said, that there’d be animals too. And she said, oh that’s nothing. She said, out in the yard, she said, you’ll see a lot of other animals too.
I just couldn’t take to this at all, I couldn’t believe. You know, when you’ve been brought up as I was, to a religious way of life, you know, you didn’t automatically begin to think of animals being here. And then again, I thought this was too natural to be heaven. I thought it would be quite different and that it would all be, well, like one sees in pictures and religious books, you know the angels and wings an the, you know. This didn’t seem right, I thought it must be a dream or that I’d wake up, but no. I don’t know how long I must ha’ been in this way, but I know that I felt different.
I felt as if I was light as air and I was curious about myself and I said I’d like to see myself in the mirror and my mother laughed at me and she said we don’t have mirrors here. Mirrors are not necessary, you can see yourself when you know yourself. You don’t have to look into a mirror to see how you look or how you are. I didn’t understand this at all, but all I know, that I felt so different. I felt so young and ma body seemed light. I just felt as if I could get up and dance around the room. But my mother said no, not for the moment, you just wait a wee while, you see.
And the next thing I must have dozed off, at least that’s what I thought I did. But it wasn’t really quite dozing off. Next thing I know was that I was walking down, what appeared to be, a lane, you know. It was beautiful, with trees either side and beautiful fields and I could see cattle. And there were all sorts of animals that I’d seen in picture books. And once years ago, my mother when she was well, many years before, and my father was alive, we’d gone to Edinburgh and I remember we went to a place where there were animals. And, it was very interesting to see all the different animals there. I just couldn’t understand, you know, there were beautiful creatures and they were wandering around and no one felt afraid, I didn’t feel afraid.
Ah, I don’t know and there were birds in the trees and they were whistling and singing and there was music. And I can only say it sounded like music to me, but there was no, nothing that I remembered in music. But I was very musical myself, though I never had any opportunity to study music, but I always liked music. And I could hear music and sounds, which were, oh it was a strange thing as if there were the sounds of nature. And there was also the animals and the birds and it was all so wonderful, as if it all blended together. And I remember walking and walking on this road and somehow, I had no feeling of tiredness and I came to the end of, what I suppose was the lane and there was a beautiful white house. Beautiful house, all white and yet, it wasn’t painted white.
And the first thing that struck me was that, although I could see the house was beautifully kept, but it wasn’t paint. It had a sort of luster about it, like mother of pearl. And yet it was chiefly white and yet there were soft shades of other pastel colors. It was as if it was all aglow and as I came to this house, a man came out of the door and my heart gave a jump, that’s if I had a heart, but I just felt as if, oh I couldn’t believe this. But it was a young man that I was very fond of, who I’d turned down, but it wasn’t because I didn’t love him. It was because I realized that I couldn’t have married him because it meant that I had to give up my parents who were getting old and in need of care and attention. And I didn’t feel that it was right to put a burden upon a man, of someone else’s parents, no matter how fond he was of me and I turned him down.
And he never got married and he moved away from the district soon afterwards and I lost touch with him for many years. Then he came out of this house and he looked just as he’d looked, oh, many years before in his thirties, tall and dark and, in those days though he had a mustache. And the thing that, I suppose it’s silly how things strike one, but he had not got a mustache an’ all, but I could recognize him quite well in spite of that. But he came rushing down the front of his garden path and met me. And he put his arms around me and, oh he made such a fuss of me and I felt so overwhelmed, you know. And I felt, oh, as if for the first time, that I was wanted.
I suppose in a way I shouldn’a say that, because I was very much wanted by my parents and I was very fond of my parents, and they were very good parents to me, but I don’t know, but, it is a different feeling I can’t explain that, and he said ah, at last you’ve come to me and he says, this time you’ll no turn me down. And I did not know what to say to him and then, all of a sudden it seemed as if, in the garden, all the flowers began to blossom.
Ah, I don’t know how to explain this without sounding silly, but all the flowers suddenly seemed to grow and, it was as if the garden came alive. And there were all kinds of flowers there, flowers that I remember from the Earth and flowers I’d never seen before. And there was one clump of huge, tall orange flowers, like poppies, but they seemed to go on and on and on. And I thought, if they don’t stop growing they’re going to be taller than the house. I thought, how stupid this is, I’m so happy here, with Rossi, Rossiter, you know, and yet all the time, in spite of all my happiness and meeting him and feeling at ease and feeling happy, I could see this growth of poppies, as I called them, growing taller and taller until they became like huge trees. And then all of a sudden, the petals began to open and they began to, like, droop.
When I say that, I don’t mean to say that they were dying, it’s as if they opened up and the petals folded down and made like, a kind of umbrella. And there were all these beautiful orange flowers, like umbrellas. And we went and we stood, at least I think we stood, underneath them. It was as if, through the petals of these enormous orange flowers was a beautiful light, and it seemed to have warmth and seemed to have a glow. And he was smiling about this because I said, I’ve never seen such big flowers and I’ve never seen such beautiful colors and I’ve never seen flowers so tall.
And he said, ah, he said until you came, although I planted many seeds in my thoughts, that one day I’d have a beautiful garden. It wasn’t until you came, it was then that I knew, that I’d have a garden which I could be proud of. And he said, these poppies, as you call them, is my love, that has been growing all the years I’ve been watching over you. And he says, they’re symbolic of us in a way and, he said, our love together. And now we can be free. He said, come into the house.
So, and again, I can’t say if I walked or if I floated, but it was as if my feet never touched the ground. And I remember going into the house and it was just as I’d always wished and dreamed. It was not a big house but it was, it was bigger than anything I’d been used to and everything seemed to be perfect, just as I would always wanted to have had myself, and the furniture, everything. And it was solid and real and there were such pretty colors and such a wonderful feeling of home. And he said, now, he said, we’re together and now he says we can make up for lost time. I had never felt so happy and then I thought about my Mamma and my Father and he said that’s alright, he said you’ve finished. Now you have your own life, to be shared with me. But we will keep in touch and we can go and see them whenever we wish and they can come and see us too.
He says you have so much to learn. And all of a sudden, in the corner of the room, as he was saying this, something I had not seen before. I saw a piano. I don’t know why I never saw this at first, but, because I’d always wanted to be a musician. I’d always wanted to be able to play. I’d always loved music very much indeed. And he had been a music teacher and I did not realize, I suppose it should have struck me, that he would naturally still be interested in music and that he would, if possible, have a piano and he said, now, he says, you can have one of your heart’s desires, you can become musical and I would teach you and you can learn. And, ah, I was so happy and so thrilled. It was just as if my youth had come back to me and all the opportunities that I desired and all the things that mattered most to me, were mine. Ah, I know this sounds so crazy.
Then he sat at the piano and he played like an angel, all the beautiful music that I used to love so much. And the short time that I knew him, he used to play in the Kirk [Church] and he used to play sometimes in the meetings that used to be held in the Social, in the village, you know. And he was playing all the things that I’d loved so much, you know. And not only those things, but other things too and it was as if, through him, I was almost, you might say, mesmerised into being able to play myself. Because I don’t remember in a sense, having lessons. Of course I must have had lessons, but it was as if when I sat down later at the piano, and he stood beside me, that is, my fingers sort of, automatically went to the right notes.
And I know now that it was him, working through me in a strange way, mentally helping me and helping my fumbling fingers, you know. And, ah, I know this sounds so extraordinary, then he said we go, sometimes to what you would call concerts and you hear the great people which makes me, he said, feel so insignificant, but it gives me hope that I might eventually one day be able to play beautifully. And I was not cross with him, but I thought well how stupid. And I said, but you play beautifully, you have a wonderful touch, you know. And he said, no, no, no, you haven’t heard what I have heard and I said, well I’m quite happy with you and the way you play. He said, well you must come with me and we’ll go to concerts.
And eventually he took me to one place in particular, which was in a, I suppose you’d call it a town, because there were all sorts of houses and large buildings where people were living and there was a huge place, with many steps and when I first looked at all those steps I thought, my, my, what a lot of steps. You’d get so tired climbing up all those steps and the funny thing was that I did not feel tired at all. I did not even feel as if I’d climbed steps. But nevertheless, we went into this great place and it was so vast. It must have held thousands of people. And there on a platform was a beautiful piano, the most beautiful thing I’d seen in my life.
It was enormous, much bigger than any other piano I’d ever seen or heard of. And I should imagine it had three tiers of keys it was a tremendous thing and very, very beautiful. And it’s as if it was made of mother of pearl, it had the most beautiful colors and tints. And then a beautiful creature [a man] came on, he was tall and nice looking and his hair was long and he had fine features and he sat down and he started to play.
Well, I’d never heard anything like it. It, the funny thing is, that it seemed as if there were three of the keyboards being used at the same time and yet there was only the one pair of hands. And when or how, I don’t know how the other keyboards were played. I did not see his hands go to the top two keyboards, only the lower. But I could see the depression of notes on the other keyboards and I can only assume that in some way they were all connected up together, I maybe wrong, but it was extraordinary. The sound, it was as if you were carried away by it and as if you were enveloped by it, and as if you lost sense of place and time and everything. And as if you were, in a kind of way, with the music and part of the music and you lost sight the hall and the people and even the pianist after a time.
It was as if you were transported in a most strange way, as if you were part of the music and as if it was talking to you and helping you to understand. It was an extraordinary experience, then of course I knew what my friend had said and meant, when he said the difference in his playing. It was, of course a great experience for me, but as I said to my friend, I quite appreciate, and it was a wonderful experience, but I still like the way you play just as much. And I realize as I said that, I meant it.
At the same time, looking back, I know that it was a bond between us, but I realize that this other experience was something beyond ordinary music. And I, now of course, know that all sorts of extraordinary things do happen here, and that there are many aspects, I think you say, of experience, which one couldn’t begin to explain.
But I’m very happy now, but I must say that I’ve had some fantastic experiences which I would like to recount from time to time, if it’s permitted you know. Because I think it might be interesting to other people.
And as far as people dying, no one need worry about it at all. It’s the most wonderful experience. And of course at first, it’s a shock, but you soon get over that, and if you know about it beforehand, you know what to expect, which is a great help. I didn’t you see and a lot of people don’t and they don’t realize that they’re dead at first. Takes them a little while to understand, you see?