In Memoriam

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Elinor Elaine Nichols-Stacks

A great part of me left the Earth this morning at 2:04 AM. Elinor Elaine Nichols-Stacks, also referred to in name as Elaine Cox in articles, became like a second grandmother to me. She is whom I make reference to in my blog entries, “Nostalgia and Non-Answers,” and, “When Chairs Go Empty.”

Mrs. Elaine, or Mimi, as the rest of us knew her, ran a bed and breakfast from her historically registered home in West Tennessee. The home dates back to 1849. Her house became a haven for ghost hunters. There was always an energy in the air at Magnolia Manor. If there weren’t ghost hunters camped out there at the moment, it was a known fact that the lull would not last for long. It was a given that the next group of paranormalists would be arriving soon. The entire experience was amazing. Walking into the house was like walking into a scene of, “Gone with the Wind,” there was the anticipation of having Mrs. Elaine’s, Eggs Benedict, for breakfast after an overnight stay, and there was the always present electric charge in the air from the steady rotation of visitors fluxing from both near and far. Mrs. Elaine, in her inimitable kindness, gave me a front row seat to the entire affair. She allowed her visiting adventurer to indulge in his devotion to exploring and looking for answers. The entire experience is incomparable, and I should realize how fortunate I was to have had it.

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Mimi and her son, Gregg. Photo courtesy of the family.

There is an entire backstory on how our lives came to bear intersection, and it is amazing how my tunnel vision and stubborn curiosity for mystery came to render such an unexpected blessing. The blessing is a testament to Mrs. Elaine’s grace and sense of humor, and not my own pestulent tendencies. I love ya, Mimi, and I harbor the utmost of appreciation that I got to call you my honorary grandmother in this life. I thank you and all of your family for the hospitality that you always extended. For each time I feel the encroachment of grief that stems from the fact that I will never get to sit at your kitchen table and laugh with you again, I will be fervent in challenging that grief with the memory that I had the great fortune of getting to visit with you over the span of a decade. Ten years go by far too quickly. Mimi, you have made a difference in the world at large, but I am in complete awe of the difference that you have made in mine.

BT

31 thoughts on “In Memoriam

    1. Thanks so much for your words, Beth. As long as I have anything posted on the internet, I want a tribute to her to be included. Little did I know when I posted, “When Chairs Go Empty,” the remaining days of her life were coming to a close. She factors in with my last post. She is one of the top reasons that taking the road less traveled was worth it. I can’t imagine my life without her having been in it now. And, if I had been content to just sit back in an armchair and say there is no reason to put the idea of ghosts to the test, I would have never met her. She represents some of the most important lessons that I have learned in life. I can sit and philosophically split hairs all day long about ghosts and whether or not they exist, but if I don’t look around me and savor meetings like the one I had with Mimi, then questions and answers are all for nothing. The less worn road had a gem left behind in its paving, and I had the fortune of finding it. Or, maybe it shone so as to serve as a beacon for this tunnel visioned chap so he didn’t get lost along his way by navigating by way of logic only. Maybe she found me. 😃 That would make sense. She was a mother to a lot of people over the years, and she will be with me each forwarding day, just as she always has.

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  1. Sorry for your loss, Blaine. You’ve mentioned your adopted Grandmother quite a few times in your writing. From a purely outside perspective, and I apologize if it’s too soon to make this remark, but it’s like a character in a story has passed away. Only it’s a story about a man who builds a rapport with a kindly old woman, visiting her ‘ghost hunting’ bed and breakfast time and time again, to no avail, in regards to making contact with “the other side”. Needless to say, if this was a story, Mimi could still have a part to play in making one last difference in your life yet. In other words, if the answer you seek is out there, could you think of a better person to hear it from? A sort of poetic irony, I guess.

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    1. Wow, what a great post. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write it. Yes, she has been a mainstay along this journey of mine. She and her home are really where it all got started for me. Back when the show Ghost Hunters was in its prime was when our paths crossed. The ambience created by the show in the ghost hunting culture made things fun with the rivalry. Ghost hunters were always present at the home, and then me, the antithesis of the ghost hunter in terms of methodology, was given free passage to go about things my way. I wrote about that first time we met at her front door where I did the world’s worst job of introducing myself. She gracefully overlooked her new guest and welcomed him right along with all the ghost hunters. No offense taken by your comments, at all. To the contrary, they are encouraging. You make a wonderful point. Most assuredly, if I could interfere with the script of the story, there would be nothing more I would love than for her to be the message bearer that I was wrong all along. In fact, I couldn’t think of a more comforting ending at this point; a wonderful irony it would be. Maybe like Houdini and his wife, I can keep an ear out for a communique, just in case it should come. In times like these, the human in us is successful in holding out for hope. Thanks again so very much for your post. A wonderful way of framing the events of the day. I’m indebted to your insight.

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      1. You’re most welcome. For now, the protagonist must grieve and travel backward through the passage of time, eventually finding solace in fond memories, but eventually when the time is right, well, you’ll know what to do.

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      2. That’s a fantastic summary. You can probably tell I’ve started the travel through that passage already. Mimi and Magnolia Manor were such an incredible chapter in my life. And, part of the message in your first post reminded me of something. I’ve always differentiated a discussion about ghosts from that of one pertaining to an exclusive discussion about the afterlife in general. Logically speaking, I always felt that ghosts not existing does not, by nature, imply the nullification of the existence of an afterlife. In turn, it stands to reason that confirmation of a ghost in a classical sense would affirm an afterlife in some manner. Martin Gardner often had to explain his personal outlooks on some of the deeper questions. His acumen for thinking critically about matters and with his being an adherent to logic and science, it was often assumed, by default and by readers, that he held certain viewpoints. However, when he wrote in clarification of some of his personally held opinions, some of his personal conclusions and viewpoints were found to be surprising. I probably fall into that same camp. My primary platform has been very narrow in asking if any evidence at all seems to substantiate the reality of ghosts, as well as how would that evidence be reconciled with science and philosophy since certain questions would have to be answered. Maybe someday I’ll take a step back and do like Gardner. Perhaps at some point I can blog an entry that’s more personally written while considering my more subjective outlook on the big questions.

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  2. What we call “ghosts” may be a very small element in a much larger spectrum of what someone is or was. Even what could be presumed as responsive sentience could still be an echo of something else (undergoing a separate process), the spectre, could be merely the perceivable tip of a much larger iceberg. The same could be said about life in its entirety, the physical reality, being a very minuscule element to an infinitely larger, complex process.

    If two people see the ghost of the exact same deceased person at the exact same time in two different locations, that doesn’t disprove the legitimacy, merely sheds light on how incredibly strange the phenomena can be (I haven’t actually looked into how often that happens). Some people are sold on evidence like photographs, recordings of electronic voice phenomenon. But I tend to agree with how Catholic priests view cases on demonic possession. Does the subject possess knowledge that he or she could have no way of knowing? Access to information no living person could possess.

    Useful evidence would be learning secret information from a source (ghost) which is 100% accurate, information that you could have never acquired without some paranormal occurrence. For instance, a set of 4 die are dropped by a machine in a sealed room. A ghost appears and says, all dice rolled a 6. The odds of that outcome are extremely low. The door is opened, all die are 6, this is a strong indication that you’re dealing with a supernatural being. The more times you perform the tests, further solidifying the reality. Even if you could do this, you could invite people in by the hundred, and many people would still doubt the process was genuine. Maybe the Ghost was a hallucination, a result of mass hysteria and the recipient of the “knowledge” was actually psychic and could see the future? It would really take some planning to figure out a way to prove the existence of ghosts to the world. Even if your best friend was a ghost sitting next to you, willing to participate in the endeavor.

    Time and time again, it’s remarked that this is something essentially personal. You need extraordinary proof to prove something extraordinary exists. The personal experience is paramount to becoming a true believer of anything paranormal. Some people have even said the topic of supernatural events were fun and interesting and alluring, until they witnessed it first hand, then they wished they could go back to the blissful ignorance of uncertainty. When they could sit comfortably in a room on their own and still feel alone.

    I think the subjective outlook on the big questions is definitely worth diving into and expressing at length. Most people crave to hear the experience of the individual, even if it sounds ridiculous. Because as it stands, science hasn’t been able to put the concept to bed (yet).

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    1. Thanks again for another wonderful post. I apologize for my delayed reply. Things have been busy, and I wanted to wait and respond to you while having a few moments to type. You make wonderful points about the whole conundrum regarding ghosts and evidence. In regard to your opening paragraph, you raise a marvelous thought experiment if we treat ghosts as being real and as being defined as we typically understand the word. If real, the scientific implications would be astounding. If you take for example, thinking through the physics of an apparition alone, the task can quickly become defeating. Several weeks back I wrote a paper on what it would take for an apparition to appear by calling on available molecules in the room of a residence, as well as what has to be happening in order for it to be registered by the human eye. But, since then, I have thought even more about the matter, and I have to add to the paper. Taking the good physics that we know and using them to explain how an apparition would appear is a tall order. One is pretty much forced to speculate about transcendent action to some degree, at which time, we immediately begin losing our definition of science. But, if an apparition is a reality in our universe, then I would certainly love to understand how it accomplishes its manifestation. The question continues to be begged. And, the rest of your comments draw attention to the ongoing debate. Like Martin Gardner, I think it is so important to have trained magicians present when monitoring testing and the results. If a ghost (or demon) provides information no one else could know, and if it is possible to go and verify such information, then we have a test in place. But, depending on the circumstances, the right controls have to be in place, as well. It is so easy to pull off an impressive mentalism trick that could leave parapsychologists, and me, spellbound and scratching our heads. The predictive information must be measured against its delivery by someone qualified to know if the accomplishment followed the methods and patterns of a trick. And, you so excellently call attention to the fact, that even in a case that is considered impressive, there will still be disagreement on interpretation of the significance and whether or not the case lends any credence to viability. You’ve really wrapped my personal journey up in a nice summary. I chose to enter the discussion because I want to make up my own mind. I want to look at the evidence up close and decide if it passes controls or not. In the meantime, I guess we can look forward to meeting back here so we can continue to chat about our findings. That sounds like an encouraging prospect to me, as well. 😀

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  3. Oh gosh, Blaine! I’m so sorry to read this, but also so touched. Wow. She sounds remarkable and to have an honorary grandmother? And one who welcomed ghost hunters and made eggs benedict? That’s my kind of lady! Blessings on her life. My sympathies to you and her family.

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    1. Thanks for the condolences, Courtney! She was, indeed, an amazing lady! Yep, everything from ghost hunting to Eggs Benedict was represented at Magnolia Manor. 😃 I wish you could have had the chance to visit her back when things were in full swing. You would have loved her. I’m sure you have crossed paths with someone who has met her. It means a lot to me for you to drop by and honor her memory.

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  4. It’s wonderful reading about such positivity given from one – to – another. Thank you for sharing, I’m sorry to learn of your loss.

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    1. She was one of a kind, Matt. Singlehandedly, she made the whole proverbial fork in the road a wonderful decision to have to make. I appreciate your condolences. It’s still hard to believe she will be put to rest tomorrow.

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  5. Blaine, you have my deepest sympathy.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Lance. I’m sorry for my delayed response. The days are getting busier and much longer. Yes, this non-ghost hunter (me) lost a piece of himself on Thursday as Mimi was put to rest. She has made my journey so worthwhile. Even in grief, where I find peace is in knowing that our paths crossed so we could compare notes. What a wonderful ten years. I’ve been privy to adventures that I have never deserved. For someone to have opened their life and shared with me in the way that she has, I’ve found important answers that are as equally significant as trying to determine the truth of ghosts. Maybe ghosts do exist. 😀 It was my pursuit of them that introduced me to Mimi. Maybe they decided I needed to learn about something more important than just logic and deconstruction.

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      1. A beautiful eulogy, Blaine. I hope Mimi remains with you in spirit. I truly believe our dearly departed leave a part of themselves with us. It’s comforting to know they do- always showing little signs that they’re looking over us and protecting us. I wish you the best during this time of grieving. Blessings.

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      2. Your reply is spot on and more fitting than you know; even more literally than you know. I was debating on whether or not to make mention of what I am thinking about here in the comments section, or to make it a blog entry. After your comments, I’ve made up my mind now to make it a separate blog entry. I think the new entry will be affirming of your remarks up above. 😀

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      3. Blaine, so very glad you are- you don’t always know how many others are out there seeking guidance and hope. Blessings and peace.

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      4. You’re right. I may have taken on a bigger task than I had ever planned, perhaps even to the point of irresponsibility. In the beginning, for me, it was just all about evidence because I needed to know what was being put forth. I needed to know what was being proposed as proof. But, I quickly became reminded of the human side to all of this, and I would much rather give some form of hope than to damage it. That’s why this discussion is so important. It’s fundamental to who we are.

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      5. Not only is it fundamental to who we are, but it’s fundamental to who we’ve lost and how much they’ll always be a part of our lives. I’d say it’s well worth the task!

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      6. Well said. That’s who we are. It’s not just the, “us.” It’s about the, “who,” that the, “us,” doesnt have anymore. Maybe I’m up to the task, because there is no one in the world who hates that finality more than I do. I’ve always resisted it as best one can while fighting a battle where there is no chance of winning in the physical sense. I’d gladly be the spokesperson for making sure those who have already moved on stay a part of our lives, even if it can’t be physically

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      7. Thank you, Blaine. If you keep writing , there will be no finality; only new doors opening for wandering souls- living and deceased.

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      8. You just gave me a poem of inspiration in that last comment. That sounds great to me. Maybe the greater end to the journey is not determining whether or not ghosts exist, but rather finishing the race while having encouraged those who stop and ask the question?

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      9. So very glad to be of help… absolutely- always good to make it to the finish line!

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    1. So kind of you to stop by and comment, Diane. 😀 I only wish you and Mimi could have talked recipes. Her caramel cakes were as famous as her Eggs Benedict. In her honor I’ll have to look through your postings and see which recipes you both shared on your menus. It’s so great to hear from you. 😀

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  6. I would have loved to meet her and share recipes! She probably could have taught me a thing or two!

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    1. I always step back and let the cooks have the stage. My only talent in the kitchen is eating. 😀 But, your recipes have me wanting to learn how to cook. And, yes, Mimi was an amazing cook!!! Her hollandaise sauce was out of this world!! I so wish I could make hollandaise sauce like hers.

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      1. Hi Diane,

        I’m so sorry for my delayed reply. I have had an action packed weekend. My friends’ home was featured on the Travel Channel Friday night, so I’ve had a wonderful time with the corresponding events. And, as I write this, I’m sitting in a home around the corner from the house featured on the Travel Channel. It is supposed to be haunted, as well. I was extended the invitation to stay here tonight, and there was no way I was going to pass up such an incredible opportunity to look around. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and for honoring Mimi. You can rest assured that the recipe will be put to good use for this very reason. I so very much appreciate your kindness!!

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  7. How exciting I am so envious!!!! A weekend you will never forget!

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    1. Indeed! Everyone should get to have that experience just once. I even took off my Sherlock Holmes hat for the night and enjoyed the ride. My hosts are the best ever, so they made the event just that much more fun. 😀

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