I once had someone I barely knew stand in my living room and tell me she felt – and later saw – a spirit. More specifically, an old woman with gray hair.

Thanks to TV’s long-ago frightening favorites “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone,” I grew up loving scary things.

But that didn’t mean I was comfortable being told there was a ghost in my house.

Besides, the person had come to train a dog not perform an exorcism.

I chuckled at her proclamation of a presence in my parlor, and prodded her to stay on task with my pup.

And that was the end of the spooky sightings.

Several years later, my sweet mama departed this earth after a brutish battle with Alzheimer’s and a brain tumor.

She died in a hospital bed in my living room with a couple of special Sanctuary Home Hospice caregivers nearby.

My favorite undertaker and friend, Steve Holland, soon came to collect the body Ann Criss had inhabited for 78 years.

As the funeral home folks rolled Mama from the house to the hearse, I followed at a distance.

Just before the body was put into the hearse, something caught my eye.

A Great Blue Heron flew low, directly over my mother’s body.

Never had I seen one near our house before and, truth be told, I thought little of it.

But the next day I saw another. And another.

I’d be driving to work and a Great Blue Heron would fly right over my car. I went to Clinton one weekend for homecoming at Mississippi College.

The first thing I saw just outside the house where we stayed, six close friends and I, was a heron, standing in a small lake across the street and watching the house.

I met these same friends several years ago when we had our annual Gal Pals Gathering right here in Tupelo.

The first thing I saw as I drove through the gates and headed to the cabin was a heron, perched on its long, spindly legs, right on the roadside.

There are those who fervently believe red cardinals show up as visits from lost loved ones. And perhaps that’s true.

For my friend Cheryl, it’s a butterfly – a beautiful black and blue swallowtail.

After her mother’s body was taken from her home on the day she died, Cheryl was sitting on some steps outside when a butterfly landed on the step next to her and stayed a while.

“It was January and I had never seen butterflies in the winter,” Cheryl said.

Ever since, when she sees this kind of butterfly, she calls it “Mama.”

I do the same thing when I see a blue heron, and I see them often. Is it my artist mother looking in on her older daughter? Who really knows?

I just know whenever I see a blue heron, I get a sense of comfort and reassurance. And I think of my mama and how much I miss her.

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