The story took place in their rented house in a rural town in the southern tip province. My mother had just given birth to her second child (the oldest sister in our family). My father was in a job site in the mountains, hours away and came home only on weekends. My father’s job was the very reason they had to live in this part of the country. During those times in a place like that, the residential telephone was unheard of, and so communication was not only a problem; there was none. The postal mail or the telegram was the only means of long-distance communication and the word-of-mouth message was how news and whatnot spread in the neighbourhood or from town to town. Inland travel was commonly by bus, truck, bicycle, beast-drawn cart or on foot. Long-distance travel offshore was by ship or boat. The airline, I assume, was still a birdie under development for flight in the country during the time.
The midwife who delivered the baby girl earlier that day stayed and took care of the chores for my mother until all was settled for the evening. It had begun raining before she left just before sunset. My mother stayed in bed with the baby by her right side. That night, she was awakened (probably for no known reason) and saw a woman with shoulder-length hair dressed in a white gown standing a few feet from the right side; at about the middle of her bed (my guess is a few feet from the baby’s side). She was mostly white against the darkness in the house, her shoulder-length hair was obstructing the view of her face, and only her back was mostly showing (I imagine her profile was in a slightly diagonal position). She moved slowly from the room towards the back door. At this time my mother called her by the midwife’s name; no reply. She called her two more times but the woman did not reply and continued moving slowly, turned around the corner towards the back door and disappeared from sight. She assumed it was the midwife who had decided to come back and wait until the rain had subsided, then left the house using the back door. So my mother did not give it much thought.
In the morning, my mother unbolted and opened the back door. The flood may be the usual 2 feet or so under the house, surprised her (it should be noted that houses in the rural areas are commonly built so that the house stands about 5 or 6 feet above ground perhaps customarily for safety against floods, and the ground floor is usually unwalled or enclosed with a fence between posts and used to raise poultry or pets or store bags of grain). It was at this time when she began thinking about the midwife. She said the midwife did not have shoulder-length hair and was not dressed in a white gown. And then she realized how the midwife could have gotten out the back door and bolted it from the outside! It was impossible because the door could be bolted only from the inside. The front door was also locked from the inside, which the midwife probably did herself before she left. If she had come back because of the rain, she would have to knock on the front door for my mother to let her in. The baby boy (oldest brother in the family), about two years old at the time, had been with my mother in the bedroom all along, and couldn’t have locked these doors. He probably wouldn’t reach the door locks if he had tried to. Putting “this and that” together, the idea of a ghost dawned on her.
My mother must have heard about ghost stories before this occurrence but never had the slightest first-hand idea of what a ghost was. I could only imagine her aghast when she realized she had just seen one! She never mentioned how she reacted.
The next day a telegram came. Her sister (oldest sister in the family) had died in a hospital in the city (about 700 miles northwest, by ship). My mother travelled to attend the funeral. Her sister had shoulder-length hair. The family was told by the nurse who had been caring for her that just before her last breath that night, her sister with both hands gripping tightly on the steel hospital headboard, was calling the names of her relatives, crying and sobbing in agony why they did not visit her. She died the same day our oldest sister was born, possibly at about the time my mother saw the ghost. My mother was told also that her sister died in her white hospital gown.