Discovering Aunt Nell

“Grandpa went to the Convent to bring his younger sister home.”  Mom shifted and looked away.  “After that, he never stepped foot in a Catholic Church again.  That’s likely the answer to why your father doesn’t come to Church with us.”

“I don’t get it.  What was Grandpa’s sister doing in the convent?”

“She was a nun.  She was very ill and Grandpa felt they were not giving her the necessary medical attention.  So he was bringing her home.”

“Oh.  That’s weird.”  At age 10, however, a surface answer was sufficient.  I decided Dad lucked out having Grandpa mad at  Catholics.  As an Anglican, I had to go to church until I was 16.

Decades later – last April, the road trip with my big brother was a perfect time to ask if he’d heard the story.  “Yes,” he said, “but she was more than ill.  She was pregnant.”

“You’re kidding!  Tell me about it!”

“I don’t know much else.  But I know that’s why Grandpa quit the Catholic Church.”

The story lodged in my heart like a sliver under a fingernail.

I thought I had come through life unscathed by the underbelly of that particular institution.  Patriarchal dominance and abuses, in any religious setting, have been under my radar most of my adult life.  I’ve seen and experienced unjust domination and rejection by male clergy in Protestant Churches.  However, issues within the Catholic Church could be left to Catholics.

Or so I thought.

Linda, of Rangewriter, wrote a post that raised the subject of family skeletons.  I commented unexpectedly about Grandpa and his sister.  Linda didn’t allow that to slide by.  In an email, she asked if I wondered about having a family member who I didn’t know existed.  Could a baby have been born?

I wrote to Linda:  “Yes, you bet I wondered. I do have an aunt [aged 90] – the youngest of my grandparents.  She’s the only one still alive who may know.  I’m going to call her and see if my big bro has his facts straight.  Your comment motivates me to do it NOW…”

Aunt Audrey answered her phone and welcomed my interest in family history.  “Yes, Grandpa did have a younger sister who was a nun.  I’m pretty sure her name was Nell, but this happened over 80 years ago so I was just a little kid.  She was a nun in Northern Alberta – in a very small town.  The Catholic priest at their church got her pregnant.”

“He told her that neither of them could withstand the consequences of the scandal if she were to have the child.  He told her to have an abortion.  You can imagine the draconian methods used in those days.”

“Anyway, Aunt Nell died.  Grandpa was the only relative she had here in Canada.  The rest of the family had stayed in Iowa.  Grandpa’s heart was broken.  He had nothing to do with the Catholic Church again.”

Suddenly, I wanted this soul, Aunt Nell, to know she was not forgotten.

The next morning, during meditation, I asked my Guides if I could receive messaging from or about Aunt Nell.   The love and forgiveness, in the response, impacted transformationally:

The soul named “Nell” assures that she is very much connected with the soul she carried for those weeks – a great Love exists between them. She reminds that all souls come into the physical form with Agreements with other souls.  These Agreements allow all to have the FEELING experiences necessary to evolve toward higher dimensions.  So this baby’s soul had previously agreed to be an embryo so this soul named “Nell” could experience deep feelings of maternal grief, betrayal and subsequent death.  The priest was as much a part of the Agreement as the baby.

There is no judgment towards the priest or the church, only acceptance in the knowledge that this experience led to the fulfillment of her soul’s purpose during her “Nell” incarnation.

“A rose by any other name…”

In spite of the folds and mystery of death, Aunt Nell’s assurances plucked the splinter from my heart.  The sting has lessened significantly because I trust her model of forgiveness.  The wound nevertheless weeps.  I am no less leery of the patriarchal thrusts and egocentric manipulations towards women and men that continue to stalk the halls of the consecrated and ordained.

Even those events, however, do not diminish the Love I feel for All That Is.  The magnificent energy that is called by so many different names brings endless reassurances that “no man puts asunder”.

I am relieved and comforted to learn there was no family member put up for adoption who could have been overlooked.  I am grateful knowing my Great Aunt Nell’s soul entwines with mine.


(Thank you for the nudge, Linda!)

57 thoughts on “Discovering Aunt Nell

  1. each story uncovered is a lesson to take hold of and understand
    I beleve we each have chosen the lessons we are here to experience with others and learn from….
    mine were seen as “distant” from who I am, yes I was abused, in so many ways but my lesson was to learn “that it was hs lesson, I agreed to be a part of it” so I tokk none of it on, my sister didn’t fair so wel, she repeats patterns and now it is carrying on through her son
    sad that lessons have to be so painful,
    you have written a great tribute to your Aunt Nell….her memories are so much a part of you…
    I read once woman can recall 17 generations of memories from the blood line they come from….
    I discover each day something that I remember from one of mine
    do you wonder if you felt the memory of Aunt Nell and that mad you proceed?
    gosh this is such a great stry, sad yes, but eloquently put into HerStory
    Thank you for sharing
    Take Care


    • I hadn’t heard the concept of remembering 17 generations. That’s new to me. What I felt overwhelmingly, maryrose, is that I wanted her to know she is remembered and we know the truth. However, that’s all “my stuff”… what makes me think a soul would be pining away with desire to have people “know”? Very human of me!

      I’m amazed that you experienced abuse and have been able to come through with these insights. Bravo, dear woman, you have done exceptionally well. The concept of Agreements makes so much sense to me. When people say, “Why would a loving God let…”, I think of our Agreements. It’s not possible to verbalize it to someone on a different level. It would seem cruel. To think you can understand this is a great comfort to me! To me, it’s an strong indication of your sincerity to evolve beyond allowing this to be in your life. Let’s send lots of blessings to your sister!

      Thank you for having the courage to write your comment.

      • I will look for the article on that, I know I saved it…

        when I couldn’t find the words to express myself after I died and no my thoughts really didn’t change, my beliefs stayed the same, just there was “more” ? a firned gave me Dr Michael Newtons;
        “Journey of the Soul” it unfolded so many memories of when I was on the otherside, even though I was only gone for 6-7 minutes, I had 2.5 days of coma I was shown and I felt so much..his book (s) are wonderful,you might like them if you haven’t read them I reccomend the wholeheartedly…

        I think I knew somehow very young that what was happening to me wasn’t mine lesson to keep inside, I let it go very early, my sister didn’t….she had a very strange relationship with our biological sperm donor….,
        my grandpa always encouraged me to be different to not let others fear of what I saw…heard interfer with my beliefs, he even stood by me when I asked our preacher( Methodist) where I came from since he was looking like God, where was Mrs.God that girls looked like..LOLs needless to say at about 6yrs olde that was not an appropriate question on a Sunday morning during the sermon on the Garden of Eden…

        Thank you..I appreciate your kindness in blessings for my sister, I talked to her a bit ago and have a spliting headache, she is just so angry at the world…
        anyway, I’ve rambled enough …sorry…
        Take Care…
        You Matter…

            • I’m trying to remember the name of a woman lawyer who died and came back. She has several excellent videos on YouTube. When she was on the other side, she knew her job was to come back remembering. So she describes her experience with love and clarity. I’ve tried to find it – no luck so far, but I will keep looking. I thought I did a post about her, but can’t find that either!

              Anyway, your story is wonderful. I wrote about my near death experience, Thus, I was intrigued by your statement “my beliefs stayed the same, just there was “more” ?” The same applied to me. Plus I was given courage to listen to my heart or soul or whatever “it” is.

              In my Hospice training, we were introduced to many books about life after death or near death. I don’t remember Dr. Newton, but I’m sure I would enjoy it!

              Thanks, I did have fun at the theater! 😀

  2. I wonder some times how many other families have had similar experiences…given that it has been used as a theme in movies…I would suspect the number is larger than we would expect given the tenets of the church…just a random thought.

  3. That was a story alright, and no doubt a shock to you as well. We do miss a lot of the details when we are children. As for me and my skeletons, I WAS one. Given away at birth and raised as an only child, when I was 22 I sought out my biological family – to find I had three sisters and a brother, all younger. They were very shocked I can assure you! The story doesn’t have any fairy tale ending. I haven’t seen any ot them for many years. It just wasn’t meant to be I guess.

    • I’m sorry it didn’t work out, SuZen. Seems to me that it will hit them when they are older. I hope it does. We hide behind life a lot and it really is so amazing to see how DNA and genes put out carbon copy habits/behaviours – even when children are raised in totally different circumstances. I once had a male friend whose daughter found him. They did a DNA test, but they were almost twins. The dearest trait they shared? They both rolled up their underwear and lined them neatly in the underwear drawers of their dressers. We cracked up when we discovered this!

  4. What incredible information to find out and send one into question and turmoil of emotions…so happy you have your guides who were able to reassure you. So often we forget much that happens here has been agreed upon prior…we tend to take things personally that really not about us even if they do affect us. This is one of those things. Thank you for sharing your story, Amy. (I guess this sort of thing has happened in religious organizations throughout the years and will probably continue…)

    • Yes, we certainly can be self-centered little beings, Suzicate! It’s like we want to pile all sorts of stuff on ourselves at times! However, we all have our Guides…some call them angels. Once we learn how to discern what is our “head” and what is from the sacred, it’s amazing how much help we are given. Thank goodness.

  5. Isn’t it interesting that we sometimes carry a burden for someone who has passed. as I continue to discover what walking in beauty means for me, I become more and more sure it is why I am here. it’s not about what happens or what was done to us. it’s about realizing ou own true worth and knowing that each one has their own journey. not sure if that makes sense!

    • The Guides repeatedly say, “If you could only see yourselves the way we can see you, you would never stop loving yourselves.” We do walk in beauty, Joss, – inner beauty galore. But we are so busy criticizing ourselves over a lopsided nose or having one leg fatter than the other that we don’t see it.

      I don’t really like that concept that we are responsible for our father’s sins. Something about that stinks! I agree with you – we each have our own journey.

      • I agree with you about the ‘sins of the father’ concept. I do think, though, that we can bring healing to generations past – I had the experience of doing that for my grandfather who passed on close to 40 years ago now -he abused his daughters and granddaughter – I was able to connect with him and give him light as he was in darkness. I felt that this brought healing to him as well as the generations to come. Perhaps it is part of my journey of walking in beauty – to bring healing to the family line. It’s an amazing life journey we are each on.

        • Ah, now I see what you mean, Joss. My apologies, I didn’t understand. Now I see what you meant about carrying the burden. Thanks for coming back and clarifying because abuse situations need to be spotlit and heard – not glazed over. The power is in dealing with it – as you discovered.

    • I hope I didn’t edit out the fact that Audrey is the youngest daughter of grandpa. If I did, it would be confusing because all of Grandpa’s offspring called him Grandpa – likely so as to NOT confuse us – the grandchildren. Therefore Nell would have been Audrey’s Aunt. Thus Nell was my Grand Aunt or, as some people say, Great Aunt).

  6. Good for you.
    Seriously….you asked the questions, got the answers and embraced ’em all. I’m really glad you did.

    I’ve questions without answers, without sources to ask.
    So I ‘let go’ and accept that plans happen, sometimes without dots TO connect and answers to be retrieved. And that’s okay.

    But I’m glad for you to have the courage to ask. And for the aunt who had the courage to answer.

    • My family pretty much accepts that I ask questions. One of the lines I heard throughout my childhood was, “Curiosity killed the cat!” Well, not only did satisfaction bring him back, but I heard a Japanese man, president of Sony until his late 80s, say that his strength was his curiosity. Did I milk that one! 😀 Fortunately, the Irish genes in my family give us a love for good stories. Aunt Audrey is no exception.

  7. Good Morning Souldipper…a really thought provoking post.
    We have some skeletons in our family cupboard which I would LOVE to uncover.
    Unfortunately, anyone who could throw some light has passed on.

    • Hi Granny. Those ill-defined skeletons could be great fodder for a story. The “meat” grows more tasty as the skeleton lies undefined! Before I spoke with my Aunt Audrey, I had a whole novel about the baby and HER life.

  8. This is such an interesting story, which prompts me to recall unanswered questions of my own. But, more importantly, your loving guides words about ‘soul contracts’ is a timely reminder for me, right now. So thank you for sharing and saving me from days of needless recrimination, Amy! 🙂

    • That is such an important point, Jacqueline – all parties are in on the Agreement. How we play it out is up to us – it means we have a lot of room for drab or drama. Whatever experience we claimed in the Agreement, we’ll have as many chances as we need to get through it successfully – until it’s a wrap! Forgiveness is such a biggee. Sometimes the wrap is that simple – forgiving. Forgiving self included!

  9. Hi Amy .. what a fascinating story – so much is hidden by so many .. humans can’t seem to accept their responsibilities at times .. and sadly those days our acceptable standards were pretty poor and lacked understanding.

    I found this whole post and comments fascinating .. and the fact women can go back 17 generations .. if we are able to be that way – it’s good to know about .. and I’m sure one day I’ll be back to investigate further .. for now – you’re there/here … and that’s great.

    Cheers Hilary

    • I stopped to talk with a woman in the grocery store. I don’t know her well, but she was bubbling over. A son she’d given up for adoption had reclaimed her. He’s been coming to the island over the past couple of years and his younger siblings (all adults) have totally embraced him. (The reason the woman was bubbling was that the son was not only bringing his new wife in this visit, he was also bringing his mother-in-law!) We shared the wonder over the carbon copy attitudes, gestures and interests he shares with the younger children – raised in totally different environments.

      DNA – does it diminish? When I watch my brother fuss over something silly and completely understand what it’s about, it’s obvious our genes are more powerful than our marvelous intellect! So perhaps going back 17 generations to glean a better understanding of who we are would be a good experience.

  10. It may actually have been a blessing that Nell didn’t survive this ordeal. As you mention in one of your comments, “I wonder how the other nuns respond to such an event.”
    So glad you were able to journey to Nell and make the connection. Thanks for the kind references, as well.

    • Here she is folks! Here’s Linda! 😀 Linda…I didn’t get into this with you, but I confess – I did consider how Aunt Nell’s libido played a part in the pregnancy. One of my friends tried to add a comment to this post on that very topic, but she couldn’t get it to post. I wonder if Aunt Nell was taking charge! 😀 Or perhaps some other nuns. (My Guides LOVE being teased! They’ve told me so. They enjoy being away from “seance vernacular” they tell me.)

  11. Your story is both sad and uplifting. I feel my parent’s presense as keenly as I did before they passed, perhaps even more so because it’s on a different level, but I haven’t experienced a connection with others who have passed. My guess is that it’s there but I just haven’t been paying attention.

    • Yes, Diana, I feel the presence of my Mom and Dad, too. At times, it’s because I put my attention on them. Sometimes it’s like they tap me on the heart. It’s a good thing, in my opinion, that we are not tapped by all and sundry. Imagine if Hemmingway was constantly proofreading our work. Or if Mother Theresa was fighting her way through the blue smoke when we were mad at someone.

      Thank goodness for our Guides. I’m convinced they know who to “let through”. They are our supreme protectors. They love us so much!

  12. Gracious, what a journey, Amy: and what a profound search, full of integrity, you have conducted. I am in awe of your ability to reach a conclusion when I would flounder. Thank goodness, in this instance, all are well. I totally share your feelings about the Clergy of the Catholic church, having been brought up as a woman in the UK as a Catholic. I do not wish to offend anyone: but I am aghast at an institution which is so readily able to write a book full of intricate rules which carry earthly beauty and complexity and scholarship, yet seem deaf to the cries of the human spirit.

    • Amen, Kate!

      I am reminded of the historical dissolution of the Abbess position. Strong women viewed and feared as too powerful because of their effectiveness. In honour of the Abbess Eloise, I decided to do a stint as Server so I could offer Communicants the Bread and Cup – a right stripped from her hands. If I remember my studies correctly, the right was stripped of all women’s hands, including Mother Superiors. Before serving, I asked for forgiveness and quickly plucked the lint of defiance from as much of the cloak of Love as possible.

      I recently took an elder friend to Saturday Mass at our local Catholic Church and was served the Communal Bread by a Laywoman. Progress.

      • Yes that is progress. I left the Catholic church many years ago because of the negative attitude of the priest who first came by my house when I moved here, to encourage me to come to church, after sternly telling me that my husband would have to join the church, my baby would have to be baptized, in order to have my marriage recognized and be welcomed back into the fold. I was done with the Catholic church after that. I joined the Baptist Church and attended many years. It was the church my husband was raised in, and I was close to my mother-in-law, and I felt it pull us closer. Until the day the preacher was discovered in flagrante delicto with the pianist, and the blame was placed on HER for the affair. The preacher had a history of indiscretions, and yet she was driven away (his grandfather was the head deacon). I left the church in disgust, and after trying another church or two, eventually became so disillusioned that I stopped attending any service of any kind. I now believe that worship takes place in the heart and not in a building, and feel as close to my god as I ever have.

        Thanks for a wonderful post!

        • Hey Cath – Thanks for such a fabulous comment. A man named Andrew Harvey recently said in an interview that his biggest concern is that the partriarcal influence on religion will not be challenged – that it will be allowed to continue. I hope he was merely challenging us. He is a spiritual activist. He spoke of the loneliness that can come from realizing organized religion is not for us. (That’s where I’ve ended up as well.) However, we can develop sacred relationships just as the mystics did over the centuries. In meditation, we can connect and build a deep relationship with the masters of our choice. I spend an hour with these masters each morning before I begin doing life.

          I worship whenever and wherever. Sometimes it’s in the eyes of a child. Overall, as Andrew Harvey said of himself as well, Love is the currency of my soul. Not a single religion, business, genius or idiot can franchise that. I’ve learned that when I run across anyone who appears to be trying to set up a franchise, I walk away. As Maya Angelou says, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

  13. Wow, so much to say and what a tragic incident. I have to say in my 28 years as a nun I never ran into anything like this…unless it was so well hidden, but there has always been an aura of secrecy surrounding the weakness of the Catholic Church, but not only Catholicism but many other organized religions as well. Sadly, those who abuse power overshadow those who serve with sincerety and humility and I’ve known my share of both. I believe that once you put power into the hands of humans, and the ability to “regulate” it is too often a ticket to corruption. I think Jesus would have a lot to say to the people who misuse that sacred trust just as he chastized those of his own age whom he called hypocrites. BTW, women have been allowed to administer the Eucharist (at least in the US) since 1976. THanks for a thought-provoking post, Amy.

    • Good for the US! Here, 15 years ago, the woman who served me Eucharist recently, talked with me about how badly she wanted to serve and was not allowed to do so. I wonder if, like Anglican decisions on certain matters, it was up to the Bishops within each Diocese.

      I thought of you as I wrote the post, Victoria, so thank you for commenting. I know there are so many sincere and loving people, but the politics is like a betrayal to Jesus and all he represented. The contradiction was heartbreaking for me, but that was because of what I experienced in the hallows of church administration and corporate life.

      I want to think I am able to keep my eyes cast above it. I really mean “keep my heart cast above it”. But after repeated examples of the antithesis of what was preached (not by the clergy) I finally decided enough.

      My hunger to be connected has not diminished though I am aware of the pitfalls of self – especially that it is very difficult to SEE self. My spiritual teachers have gone one by one, but I still have access to their teachings and commentaries.

      I feel ready for another so I’m sure one will be provided.

      Just for now, I don’t speak to the fishes, I speak to the sea.

  14. This was a great post. I really liked it. It’s very interesting to find out about life(especially our family) and all of the variations of soul experience and forgiveness. Peace be with you.

  15. I love your “take” on your family’s history and hope to have such a loving, forgiving experience one day with my family’s. You gave me much to think about and opened my heart with your words and actions. Thank you!

    • Good – I’m so glad you visited because it meant I found your great post about your trip to NYC. I like your comment…it means you will have that loving and forgiving experience because your mind is there. The journey to having courage to speak your truth is so worthwhile. It takes practice, but doesn’t anything worthwhile? I have a feeling you’ll be a great model for your girls!

    • Quite likely my family members who read this will be quite surprised – since most of them are younger than me. Yike! Did I say that? Is it possible? I was always the youngest…how did this happen? 😀

  16. This is a moving tribute to your Aunt Nell, Amy…sadly these abuses and misuses are common across all denominations of belief systems, often swept under the rug, but common nevertheless! The heart breaks…winces and is angered…at these travesties under the mantle of religiosity…by professed ‘keepers’ of faith…

    But as always you manage to find a connection that is positive and inspiring…here in a spiritual context! 

    God bless Amy…

    • Thank you for your welcome insights, Shamasheikh. I’m still “soaking” in your posts “Forty Rules of Love” I am going to see if I can have our local book store order the book for me. Often, ordering through Amazon means huge shipping fees.

  17. I have many stories about priests and children in memory, though I was not raised Catholic. My father was. And he in turn abused his own children, due to his childhood experiences. This and other stories I’ve heard throughout my life leads me to believe it is unnatural to expect celibacy in western culture. “We” are not mature enough to handle such a lifestyle – we do not have thousands of years of lineage disciples in our midst – who, by the way at least in many Buddhist traditions, are given a CHOICE about such things, even within the structure of their faith. Part of the immaturity as I see it is the “all or nothing” approach. Either celibate or out of the church. So much damage in the wake of this kind of fundamentalism.

    Peace, Amy.

    • I’ve heard and observed some of the damage done to children – in the form of male friends. The extent to which the tentacles of abuse causes heartache throughout families and loved ones surprises and saddens me. Like you, Bela…having to experience a father’s pain.

      Yes, imagine us believing we can just shut off the sex drive! Why would we deny a God-given gift? To me, celibacy is fear-based. Does the power of sex take our souls away from our Spiritual Center? It’s been my experience that it takes me to that Center.

  18. What a powerful message you have shared, here. The lessons in love that we contract prior to returning are so very interesting when I read them and I think this is one of the elements that keeps me reading and “feeling”and searching, Amy. I, often times, scrape my knees and trip as I face personal circumstances within the network of my associations. I observe those I love face situations, not the same as, but like what you have shared, here, and I am glad for the reminders of love and patience and the possibility for lessons to be learned. Sometimes I wonder if this plane, this existence, would cease if there were not those of us who inflict pain and judgement on another? The reality that this life has become our classroom is enlightening but some of the lessons we are faced with are pretty cruel. I often don’t recognise them until in the thick of it and wonder if others feel the same at times.

    • The description of your experiences is familiar to…well, probably all of us. Well, maybe turnips are immune. 😀 I heard a Master say that our job in the physical plane is to experience emotions and feelings. That’s why we keep coming back because we want to live a lifetime hurting as few as possible. That indicates to me that people like Hitler must have been a young soul because he hurt so many. When we were on our Soul Safari in S. Africa, the psychic with us informed us that Mother Theresa was a young soul. We (all old souls) thought he had made a mistake. No, he explained, younger souls are caught up in religion. She was very religious. She just happened to be a damned good religionist. Interesting…

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