I was terrified the first time I had gone into town after my death. The Salem Witch Trials had ended, but some of the more negative feelings about the supernatural remained amongst a few of the more stubborn New Englanders. With my head held high, I walked down the muddy streets. Much to my chagrin, men were staring at me.
Nervous, I pulled my shawl tighter around me. I was nearing fifty years old. Most women who reached my age were grandmothers. I had always imagined myself as a gnarled old woman with graying hair and sunken eyes. A man gave me a low bow as I walked up the wooden steps to the village dressmaker’s shop. I needed income to support myself and did not wish to become a tavern girl. I caught a glimpse of myself in the looking-glass mirror. I was in shock. For I had not aged a day in nearly twenty years.
The village dressmaker took me in, paying me pennies a week. But I didn’t mind. It was good, honest work and I was good at it. I had always been good with my hands. It was there at the dressmaker’s shop that I met the first of my many husbands, Christopher.
Christopher was a good man, aged thirty-seven. He was a widower with a young son, William, only two. We married after a brief courtship and I joined him on his small farm in the New York colony. Our marriage brought three children into the world: John, Joseph, and Mary.
Those first few years were happy with my little family. Over time, my family began to grow old, but I still did not. I did my best to hide my age with hair coloring and what cosmetics I had available to me at the time, but that still was not enough.
When I could no longer hide my age from our friends and neighbors, Christopher suggested that the two of us leave our home and family behind to keep my secret safe. At first, I objected. We had worked too hard to make our little farm a success. William’s wife, Caroline, was expecting our first grandchild. I couldn’t miss the birth of our grandchild.
Eventually, I saw reason and we left.
I studied Christopher carefully as we made the long trek back to Margarethe’s cabin, watching for any sign that he regretted his decision to spend the rest of his life away from his family. There were no signs. He promised me that as long as we were together, he was happy.
Our happiness was short-lived, however.
Two years, three months, and eleven days after we had moved away from our family, Christopher died. He had fallen off the roof of the little barn and had broken his back. I didn’t get there in time to try and save him.
Despondent and completely alone, I began to cry until I had nothing left inside of me. Christopher was all that had I. I couldn’t seek out comfort in the arms of my siblings or my children. I was completely alone. Then I died. I later learned that I had died of broken heart syndrome, which is an apt description because at that moment in my extended life, my heart was broken.
I struggled to find a purpose for my life during those next few years. A few letters from my Mary made it my way telling me all about the adventures of our little family and the new children and grandchildren that joined the family. To this day, I still keep detailed genealogies of all my children.
I was nearing a century of life when I found a purpose for my life in war. I had always detested violence, but I couldn’t sit idly by and watch innocent people suffer. During the 1750s, I joined my fellow sisters, serving as nurses for the wounded soldiers. I also smuggled whatever I could: food, medicine, blankets, et cetera to the native peoples. I always thought they had suffered unjustly at the hands of European colonizers when we could have found a way to live amicably with one another.
My charity work did not last long. I was shot in the back with a musket ball for stealing supplies. Aiding and abetting the enemy was a serious crime. I woke up after my death, lying naked in the middle of a field miles away from the fort.
Dr. Grace glanced at the clock on the wall. “That is our time for today. Let’s continue this new week.”