Winifred Reed...And the Treasures of her life...
From an adventure that happened to me in
the Summer of 1993...
Winifred Reed - Holy Soul
The following is an account of what happened to me while visiting Great Britain in me this past summer...
Wonderful U.K. magic was sprinkled on me. I thought that perhaps my story would be of interest to others who like me, believe that death is only a light curtain through which heaven awaits. Through my eyes and heart, let me share my adventure with you . . .The village of Arundel has historical value as a town dedicated to religious freedom. It has been one of the few villages where many of its residents remained true to Catholicism during the persecution of Catholics during the reign of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. The Duke of Norfolk and his ancestors are the most prominent Catholic residents of the town of Arundel. The family castle in this little village is beautiful. It is the type of castle that we Americans envision. It has turrets, secret rooms, private chapels and ancestral portraits. On our visit, the Duke himself was at the castle. His flag was up, indicating his presence. We spotted him! He was giving a private tour. We followed him as he described the history of family members in portraits (many dating back hundreds of years). We saw pictures of the Duke with the Pope. He and his wife are one of the most well known reigning Catholic families in Great Britain. His wife is an artist and has painted many beautiful pictures. They are auctioned off to help children's charities. Anyway, I was so touched by this family and their staunch history of defending their faith, that my heart could have burst! The castle church entirely devoted to the Blessed Virgin especially touched me. Here ends historical Arundel . . .
Here begins my adventure . . .When we left the castle we crossed the street and noticed a large church to the left. The church ended up being the first Catholic Cathedral allowed to open after approximately three hundred years Catholic Emancipation Act). As we walked along the side of the Cathedral, I felt a strange feeling. It was as if someone was walking with me. It felt as if the individual was behind my right shoulder. I knew that there was not anyone there. I then proceeded to forget the incident as I entered the church. The Cathedral was so beautiful! It had the remains of the Duke of Norfolk who lived during the reign of Elizabeth I. He had been canonized as a Saint for defending his faith. After we had seen the church, it was about time to leave the village. The family we stayed with had driven two cars into the village. (The nine of us could not fit into one car.) My girlfriend (who is Scottish and named Oonagh) and I wanted to shop, and of course the men (sexist statement), and most of the kids did not want join us. Therefore, my husband Paul and Oonagh's husband Rick, along with the children of our friends, all left to return home.
Oonagh, and my eight year old Jenny, and my six year old Christina and I decided to explore the little town. Oonagh said that there was a street that she saw that she wanted to look and walk down. So as we walked down this little street, I saw an antique store with a statue of the Blessed Mother in wood for one pound. I decided that on our way back I would purchase it. All of us stopped for coffee and dessert after we had seen most of the stores, and when we were done, we proceeded to return to the store that I had noticed on our way. I picked up the Madonna. As I entered the store, I saw a rather ordinary pink set of rosary beads (little did I know, how truly extraordinary they would become). A lovely couple owned the store. As I held the rosary in my hands, I asked them if they knew who had owned them. The lady told me to look in the back of the store. There I would find a sewing form with a photograph of the woman attached to the garments. The photo was of a couple dressed very well in a garden; the era approximately the 1920's. I asked them if it would be possible to purchase the photo. The lady in the shop asked the gentleman if they still needed it to sell the garment (the clothes in the photo were the same on the form) with the photo on it. He said, "Oh, she can have it. I don't see why not." I said it was unnecessary to give it to me, that I would gladly pay for it. I told them that the reason I wanted the photo was that I intended on praying for her, with her own rosary. I thought it would be nice to have a visual representation of what she looked like. I said it was a tradition in my faith. I asked them if they were Catholic, they replied that they were not, but they respected the prayer tradition. I then asked them if they also knew the name of the lady, whose beads and photo, I now held so dearly in my hands. The lady said she would try and find out. The gentleman in the meantime said that he had found a certificate belonging to the man in the photo. The man it seemed, was the brother of the woman. His name on the certificate said "Benjamin Reed," and the date was 1919." He asked me if I would like it have it. I said I would. I said I would pray for him too. I offered to pay, and again the gentleman would receive no payment. At that time the lady of the store said she found a prayer book. It was dated 1879, and belonged to a woman named Ada Paine. Ada, it seemed was the mother of Benjamin, and the yet unnamed woman. She too, asked me if I would like to have it. As they would not let me pay for any items except the rosary (15.00 dollars), I bought several other items, including some beautiful jewelry. They had both given me something money couldn't buy. What they had given me was indeed priceless. As we walked out and away from the store, I felt a sense of sadness. I had the prayer book of her Mother's, the certificate of her brother's, her photo and rosary, yet I did not know her name. I then ran back into the store. I asked them if somehow, they could find out what her name was. The lady in the store searched and finally she came upon another prayer book. This time, the prayer book belonged to someone else. It belonged to the lady in the picture. Her name was in the front of the book along with a date. Inside the book was written the name Winifred Reed. The date was 1918. Then the couple informed me that she and her bother had never married. It all seemed so complete! I was thrilled. There inside the book, I also found a dried flower. Simultaneously, I felt both joy and sadness. The couple continued to refuse payment. It seemed odd. . . To receive all these treasures for the cost of a pair of rosary beads . . . I was truly blessed.
When I came home I recounted the story to my Mother. As I shared both the story and items, I realized suddenly, whom it was that was walking behind me at the Cathedral. It was Winifred! She guided me to that little store, so that the most treasured items of her life, and those that she loved, would go into hands and hearts that would equally value and respect them. They have indeed. The articles, along with this story, will be told by many generations of my family. She and her family are now permanently woven into the lives of my family. I am having the photo framed, and I say prayers from both prayer books. The rosary beads too, and being used once again. I thought that the story had ended here. It seems that there is a chapter two . . .When we came home I had eye surgery. About two days after the surgery I had a very interesting dream (yes, I had taken medication). In the dream I had awakened. I had gotten out of bed and walked to the doorway of our room. The door was opened. In the hallway, in front of a picture of the Blessed Mother, stood Winifred! She was pointing toward her photo, which was sitting on a drawer in the passageway. She was so heavenly and beautiful! It is difficult to describe her loveliness. It seemed as if her inner beauty was radiating. She had the most peaceful smile I had ever seen. She was wearing a silk or satin dress (era 1915) covered with an overlay of ivory lace. She also had a matching hat gloves and satin sash around her waist. As beautiful as she was, I was still frightened. I ran back to bed. Instead of my husband being next to me, it was my Mother. I said "Mother I just saw Winifred." She replied, "Don't be frightened, she won't hurt you." Then I was suddenly in our large bathroom with my Mother and Jennifer (Christina might have been there, but that part of the dream was vague). The door opened. In walked a most lovely female child of about eleven years of age. I knew instantly who she was. It was Winifred. She said, "Julie, I have come to you as a child because I knew that you would then not be frightened." She was right! I could never be afraid of a little girl. I then rushed forward to embrace her! I could feel her. She appeared as human and real as any of us. Except, that I recall her hair had a somewhat different texture. She then stepped back and said, "I wanted you to have the rosary beads for a reason. There were two little boys who died from a drowning accident. I want you to pray for them." I replied that I would. Then I suddenly awakened. I really believe it was Winifred.
Since then, I have said the rosary not only for the boys, her family, but also for any intentions that she desires. It is very strange, but I look at these series of events as a gift. It has made me once again recognize the existence of a God and the promise of an afterlife. It also made me realize that whether we are related through bloodlines or not, we are truly part of the larger family of God. And that family transcends time and space. I found out a little more about Winifred. I called the antique store (The name of the store in Unicorn Antiques.) and spoke to the lady, whose name I know too, is Jenny. The gentleman is named Roy. I recounted the story to her as I have just done to you. I asked her if she had any further articles or information I could have on Winifred. She told me that the garments were gone, and that there were a few things left. She promised to set them aside for me. Next she told me that she had some additional items, but that she would have to search for them. She also told me that Winifred had died within the year of 1993. She had lived to be in her 90's. She lived by the sea in an art deco apartment. The name of this apartment complex was called A slow Court. She told me that there was a neighbor who knew Winifred. She said she would try to gather more information for me. In addition, I found out that she was from a wealthy London family. I told her about the clothes that she was wearing in the dream. She said that from viewing her personal belongings, she wouldn't doubt that she loved wearing the very feminine clothes I had described seeing in my dream. She told me that in her room, there had been many personal items. She had saved many things over the course of her ninety years. It seemed that she was sentimental. Jenny then remembered that there were white gloves that she had not sold. They belonged to Winifred. There were also white dancing shoes, but she regretted that she didn't save them. We discussed the two boys mentioned in the dream. Jenny said perhaps they had something to do with the reason she never married. I told her that I would call them again before I came out. I wanted to tell them the exact date I would go to their store. I also said I was happy to purchase the remaining items of Winifred. I called them a week before my trip. The night I decided to call the store was about a month later. I called the store at 12:00 AM California time. Roy answered and told me that I should talk to Jenny. She wouldn't be back for an hour, so he suggested I call back then. I was tired, and I would have to teach the next day, so I thought I would either call another night, or call about 2:00 AM. I thought that if I set the alarm, I could at least get a couple hours of sleep. The alarm went off. I climbed over Christina, who was sleeping with me that night, in order to turn off the alarm. I then decided that I would call later. I just felt too tired to call anyone. As I went back to sleep I had a quick dream with the antique storeowner Jenny in it. Then all of a sudden I smelled the strongest and most lovely aroma. I then said "Alright, Winifred, I'll make the call." I went to the alarm/phone and noticed that it said 2:00. I called and spoke with Jenny. She had already decided that I would probably want the remainder of Winifred's possessions, so she had put them aside for me. She also gave me the address of her art deco apartment by the sea. I said I looked forward to seeing her again. Then I went back to sleep. When I had awakened, I thought to myself that I had never set the alarm. I believed that I had indeed intended to call another night. I checked the dual alarm, and both times was not set to 2:00 AM, but to other time periods. I decided that Winifred really wanted me to make that call!
When I went in November, Rick, my husband's friend, drove me to Winifred's apartment and back to the antique store. Winifred's apartment was a beautiful complex directly across from the beach in the town of Worthing. I was unable to find out much about Winifred. Everyone seemed quite suspicious at my concern for an elderly woman who had died earlier that year. I did, however, find out that Winifred had been very ill before her death. I found out that she died in February at the age of 91. Her neighbor told me, that she had attempted during her decade of the 30's to contact her deceased Mother. It appears that she had a great deal of grief over her Mother's death. I found her apartment. The apartment itself was still vacant. I was able to discern that she had a large window that faced the water from her living room. I believe that she witnessed the death of the two boys from that window. I speculate because of her illness and lack of mobility, she was able to see the boys, but unable to help them. It must have which caused her a great deal of mental and spiritual pain. It was interesting going back to the thrift store. I believe Winifred wanted me to return to this location. It was there I was able to retrieve the last precious items of her family and her life. These items included a pair of white leather gloves, a prayer to the Holy Souls in purgatory written in 1959 (the year of my birth, I thought that this was interesting), a piece of 1930's jewelry, a toy doll's brush from France made from turtle shell, her grandmother's photo from the mid 1880's, some of her lace, and the prayer book of her remaining sibling, Dorothy. It makes me feel contented to know that our family has her treasures. I feel that somehow she picked my family because she knew that we would cherish these items, as well as the lives they represented. I still don't know why this happened to me. I want to share this adventure. Although, I recognize that there are a great many people that do not share my enthusiasm, I somehow feel that I will find out what I am meant to do with this adventure. Perhaps, I am meant to do nothing. I know that time will indeed produce the loose ends to this adventure.