Nicolas Cordier - of stout blows and flying turnips
Type of spiritual experience
Knowing the mother was ill would have generated some very high emotion, fuelled by the granny's attempts to reach them
A description of the experience
Death and its Mystery, At the Moment of Death; Manifestations and Apparitions of the Dying – Camille Flammarion
Letter 945 received from Nicolas Cordier – Gardener in Luneville France, September 30th 1900
In 1857, when I was three years old, my parents were already living in the house in which I am at present. This house is situated in the midst of a garden and about 80 meters distance from all communication with the outer world. We were living on the ground floor, the first floor serving as a store room, where straw mats and empty baskets were put [we are gardeners from father to son]. The bed was placed in an alcove situated in the east room, with a window to the south. This alcove was shut off by two large doors of soft pine.
One night both my parents heard distinctly a noise in the room above, like that which might have been caused by the falling over on the floor of several piles of empty baskets. My mother was frightened by this, but my father reassured her, telling her that it must be cats which in fighting had brought about this collapse.
The next day it was ascertained that everything was in order and that nothing had been disturbed.
Some moments afterward three very distinct blows resounded against the window of the room, which was about a metre from their heads. My father leaped quickly from the bed, opened the window which gives on to the garden and cried
‘Who is there? What do you want?’
He got no response. After having explored the grounds nearby, he went back to bed, believing that he had been made the butt of a silly practical joke on the part of a neighbour. Scarcely had he gone back to bed, with the windows and doors tightly closed, when three new blows were heard, this time against the very door of the alcove within the room. These blows resembled those that would have been made by a stout rod in a vigorous hand, striking against the door.
This time my father, finding the thing more and more inexplicable, had a presentiment, which he imparted to my mother, of a supernatural summons from my maternal grandmother, who was ill, but whom they had left that evening in no danger of any complications in her malady.
All sounds ceased and at dawn they hastened to the invalid, about 2 kilometers from there. She told them that she had thought a great deal about them in the night and had feared she would never see them again.
She died in the course of the day and no sound has been heard since……
A friend to whom my mother related what had happened to her told her that there was no reason to be too astonished by it; that when, one day, she herself was cleaning vegetables, seated in a chair, she was struck on the knees by a turnip… at the same instant she had heard Mother, mother!’.
That same day her son, a soldier, was dying in our colony of Guiana; she did not hear of his death until very much later