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Mysterious Stranger: Baby Catching Edition

Posted By Rebecca Witzel On May 16, 2014 @ 8:13 pm In Legends,Narrative | Comments Disabled

My friend has some family lore that her aunt tells about when her cousin was 3 she was sitting on a balcony a few stories up and somehow managed to fall off..  My friend’s aunt, the baby’s mother frantically ran downstairs to check on her child, who she expected to be dead, if not seriously injured.  When she came downstairs she found the toddler sitting on the floor.  When the mother asked her daughter what happened she claimed that “a man caught me” but when the mother looked around there was no one around.

My friend told me this story when I prompted her for any legends.  She didn’t seem particularly put off by the uneasiness of the tale, it was simply a story that had ben retold by her family so often it was very ordinary at this point.

This seems to be a  quasi ghost story, with a disappearing savior as opposed to a ghost that explains an unexplainable phenomenon, but still gives an air of unease.  Yes, the stranger hypothetically saved the toddlers life, but why did he not wait to stick around?  If a baby falls from sky and you have the decency to catch it, wouldn’t you also have the decency to return it to its parents? That would be what any normal person would do.  So the ghost in this story is both a savior and a sinister figure.

This story reminded me of a disappearing hitchhiker story that I read, which is similar in that it also tells of a figure, who disappears.  The figure can often provide some form of advice to the other person in the story.  This seems to be a parallel about the phenomenon where people enter and leave our lives very rapidly but cause catalytic change.


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