When preparing for this story, I asked several of my family members if they believed in ghosts. The consensus was no. My mom quoted the bible saying, “the dead neither see nor hear.” My dad said if ghosts existed we would know because so many people have died that the world would be full of them.
As for me, I am a skeptic, but open minded. Certainly I have underwent experiences that remain unexplained. The person in my family who experienced a ghostly encounter that no one can explain is my brother.
Our paternal grandfather died less than one year before I was born at age 49. He was sick for many years but had a metastatic colon cancer diagnosis only one and one half months before his death. On December 30, 1976, most of the family was at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, TN to bid my grandfather farewell. The only members of the family who were not present in the room at the time of his death were my mom and my aunt who was pregnant with my cousin born two weeks before my birth. The grandchildren ranging in age from 9 to 2 were also not present.
Someone kept my siblings and my cousins at my grandmother’s house when grandpa died though I do not know who. Before anyone had called to give news of my grandfather’s death, my brother had a vision. He was looking outside the home at the gravel road that went in front of our grandparents’ home. Suddenly he saw an old fashioned looking blue Chevy truck. Inside the truck he saw our grandfather! He did not realize our grandfather was in the hospital dying at the time he saw the vision. He wanted to go outside and ask grandpa where he got the neat old truck. Grandma confirmed that when their children were small (back in the 1950’s) my grandfather had a blue truck he enjoyed driving while he was working.
My brother was nine years old when this happened. People say children have imaginations and I would accept this as such were it not so detailed. This truck was never mentioned because in my grandma’s mind it was practically a forgotten memory. No pictures of the truck existed. I have viewed every photo my grandmother owns many times and I have never seen an old fashioned Chevy truck in any of the photos. How could my brother have known about that truck when it was a part of his grandfather’s life twenty-five years before he was born?
Our maternal grandfather was buried three weeks to the day after our paternal grandfather died due to an unexpected heart attack. My brother had no visions of him but he was not as close with him as he was with our paternal grandfather. My brother and his paternal grandfather were inseparable from the time he was born. He was the first grandchild and also the first boy. A part of me likes to think grandpa showed him this vision to let him know he was fine now..
My own experiences with ghosts are not nearly as dramatic. My family has always lived in older houses that are drafty and make spooky noises. In one of the homes, I did have an unexplained experience. I was preparing for school when I suddenly felt cold. I turned quickly to look over my shoulder and saw the profile of a brown haired young woman. I was blonde haired so I was not seeing myself. Her visage disappeared as quickly as it appeared. This home now belongs to my parents and we know more of the history behind who lived there. The house was built by one of our town’s doctors who saw many patients in his home. Perhaps it is possible someone died in the home or there is residual psychic energy from a traumatic health problem? I lean more toward another possibility of what may have occurred.
Years before the doctor built the house my parents now reside in, a different house was on the plot of land. The stone building they used as a smokehouse remains though the house is different. My parents decided to remodel their home a few years ago. While clearing out the smokehouse, they found several old pictures. One picture showed all presidents from George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt. There was a clown painting that looked as though it dated from the same time period. The interesting items were a marriage license for a man named Charley to a woman named Hannah. There was also a photograph of a very young couple that looked like a marriage photo. I have done a lot of family history work so I was aware the Randolph County, AR website had a lot of sources to gain information on people who lived here many years ago. I found the marriage date of this Charley to Hannah. A deeper search revealed that within a few years of their marriage, Hannah died. She is buried in a Catholic cemetery in our town next to a baby she apparently lost at birth. At this time, I could not conclusively say the woman in the photograph was Hannah. Another year went by and I located a school photograph of a school located not too far from where my parents lived. The Hannah in that photograph and the Hannah in the marriage photograph were the same. I like to believe Hannah was the one I saw while preparing to go to school that day.
Perhaps what both my brother and I saw was nothing more than wishful thinking or some type of illusion. My preference is to think that after this life is over our spirits leave and we are at rest. Ghost stories are such an interesting topic because anyone alive right now who has experienced one does not understand why. Knowing why is not an experience I am ready to encounter. I will enjoy the creative possibilities of what could be until that time comes.