It was September, 1975. Gunhild prayed every morning and every night, and often throughout the day as well. She would pray for all those that she knew, starting with her immediate loved ones, extending onward to personages known only through the news whom she considered to be “good”, such as the President. All of her known world, essentially, was included in her daily prayers. She was living alone at the time, having moved out of her sister Helga’s apartment in Los Angeles after the earthquake in 1971. Gunhild was terrified of earthquakes, and would often warn my parents about the impending “Big One,” much in the same way she was always warning us of the coming of the apocalyptic end of days, for which she was joyously awaiting the advent of The Rapture.
At this time she was probably living in Tuscon, although she may have been in Albuquerque, St Petersburg, Dallas, or Chicago. Helga referred to her sister as a “gypsy”, and true to this title, Gunhild seemed to have an aversion to settling for too long in any one place. Fiercely independent, and also terrified of airplanes, Gunhild traveled by train or Greyhound wherever she went. She eventually settled mostly in Tuscon, as her allergies seemed the least affected by the climate there, and there weren’t any earthquakes.
Anyway, to get back to the story, to that September day, wherever she was. She was in her apartment alone, and she had just got back from running an errand. She was walking from one room to another when she heard a voice tell her to “pray for the President.” She walked around looking for the source of the voice, but the radio was off, and no one was there. She thought to herself, “but I’ve already prayed for the President today.” But she shrugged and decided that it certainly couldn’t hurt. So she kneeled down right then and there and prayed for the President, for his safety, for his health, for his wellbeing.
Later she turned on the radio, and heard that an assassination attempt had just been made on President Ford in Sacramento. The would-be assassin, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, had pulled out a Colt .45 on Ford, but strangely, though the weapon’s magazine had rounds in it, there were none in the firing chamber. Almost as if one part of her wanted to kill the President, but another side of her didn’t really want to shoot him. She later told The Sacramento Bee that she had deliberately ejected the bullet that morning from the chamber, and the police found the .45 bullet laying on her bathroom floor. She didn’t plead in her own defense and was sentenced to life.
My grandmother was not one to lie, by the way. If she says that she heard a voice say “pray for the President,” then she heard it. She also was not one prone to any sort of silliness or flights of fancy, at least not until the onset of Parkinson’s in her late 90s, at which point such flights were quite understandable.
There is no doubt in my mind that the “voice” that my grandmother heard so audibly and forcibly came from within. It was a warning of intuition so sharp and immediate that she heard it as sourced outside of herself. This story makes me wonder about the power of prayer; it has been fairly well established by medical science that at the very least, prayer can heal simply through the placebo effect of calming the patient and providing a community of support. But what about the power of prayer to directly influence, psychically, the actions of another, even that of a complete stranger?
Stay tuned for more of my grandmother’s tales of the paranormal.