After Jim died in May 2007, we had many parts of the house renovated because he used to smoke very heavily and had left the stale smell of tobacco throughout. His bedroom, which is now my office, was completely in need of decoration as was The Room. It took a long time to get rid of the nicotine stains but the smell of tobacco still lingers through the air and is particularly strong in my office, almost five years after his death. But along with the tobacco smell that I experience frequently, I always know when Jim visits because he leaves the aroma of TCP, something he used every day for many years. Very often, I sense someone with me and am suddenly greeted by the aroma of Vanderbilt, beef stew, tobacco smoke or TCP. Any of these aromas alert me to a presence, a spirit that once resided in this big old house. Jim lived here all his life, almost 83 years. His wife lived here for almost 50 years. It's not surprising they don't want to leave.
Jim lived in a nursing home for the few months before his death and once I remember visiting him only to find him stroking an imaginary dog. When I asked what he was doing he replied, "I'm stroking Bob." The day before Jim died, we brought Sparky home, a beautiful red and white border collie. It wasn't until a short while after that I discovered photographs of a dog that my husband told me was Jim's favourite - Bob, a red and white border collie.
On New Years Day this year, we brought home Tanya, the most adorable kitten. Shortly after she joined our family, my husband dug out some old photos which were taken during the 1980's, of a kitten that belonged to his mum. She called the kitten Squeak. I'd heard Jim mention Squeak often and I felt the couple had a special bond towards it. It turns out that Squeak was indeed my late mother-in-law's favourite cat and lived until she was 19. She died shortly after my mother-in-law.
I don't believe in coincidence.