A Phone Call from our Late Tante Mina

The words “Message from Tante Mina” showed up on my Aunt Tova’s cellphone. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, as Tova got messages all the time, but
there were several peculiar things about this one.

  1. Tante Mina wasn’t programmed into Tova’s phone, so how did her name pop up?
  2. Tante Mina didn’t even have Tova’s cellphone number.
  3. And the oddest thing about this particular message was the fact that Tante Mina had died several months before.

Perhaps I should have mentioned the last one first.

In this day and age it’s easy to become overloaded and pessimistic about mystical events and spirituality. We have TV shows featuring psychics for people and pets, mindfreaks who can pull people in half, David Blaine can float and oodles of people have stories claiming “I shouldn’t be alive.” We have “Spiritual Experiences for Dummies” in our bookstores and little red kaballah string bracelets gracing the wrists of celebrities in People magazine. Want to touch base with a long lost deceased relative? Go visit “Crossing Over,” where the host will verbally entrance you into a “meeting.” Or go ghost-hunting with machines that click louder in certain corners and eerie blurbs of light not quite captured by the camera.

It’s always hard to believe these shows, since as an audience we see it after it has been through the shooting, enhancing, splicing, editing and magic of television. After seeing all of this mysticism that apparently occurs every single minute of the day, it’s hard to truly focus on the real magic that occurs from time to time. Because as experience has taught me, it does in fact exist.
Mysticism, for my family, and I think for most people as well, usually shows itself through nature.

One of my favorite stories is about my grandmother on my father’s side. She always used to call us on our birthdays and claim that the mariachis were at her house with her. Then she would sing to us in both English and Spanish as the imaginary mariachis played in the background. After she died, birthdays never seemed quite the same. On my dad’s birthday he was awake earlier then usual, sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper. All of a sudden a group of birds started chirping like mad! My dad lifted his head out of the paper and listened.

Once the chirping stopped he smiled to himself — looked like his mom had sent him the mariachis after all.

Another instance was when my mother was at the gas station on the one-year anniversary of the death of my father’s aunt, Regina. A large beautiful butterfly landed on her car and flirted with her the whole time she was pumping gas. As the butterfly finally took its leave, my mother sensed that it was the spirit of Regina, just stopping by to say hello.

These stories I can handle — the sense of someone’s spirit in a butterfly or group of birds, perhaps a familiar scent on a breeze carrying with it memories of a beloved someone. These occurrences are common — a sense of something familiar that we connect to the memory of someone we lost. A favorite spot can bring back a favorite story, and with it a smile of remembrance.

But it seems that in this digital age things are getting even more advanced. No one can seem to explain how Tova’s cellphone got this message. There is no record of it in her call log, as there should be, and it came through on a ring tone that isn’t an option on Tova’s phone. All that is left is a sense of confusion, awe and humor, all rolled into one.

I can’t help but chuckle every time I get the crazy image of Tante Mina sitting up in heaven playing around with a cellphone, trying to get in touch with us all. I can’t quite wrap my mind around this bizarre event, but I find it comforting all the same. All I ask is that she not try to e-mail me, as that would truly be too much.

Caroline Cobrin is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles and can be reached at carolinecolumns@hotmail.com.