17 April 2010

Ghost Story Time!

Anyone up for a couple of true, spooky tales? Okay, grab your wooby (or whatever security device you use) and hang on.

Last week I took my son Dylan and his girlfriend, Katie, down to North Carolina with me to visit my Mom. Now, Mom says she doesn't believe in ghosts, but the family history is littered with strange phenomena - and my sister and I always swore she was psychic. Plus, when we were growing up, Mom used her ability to move as silently as a ghost through the house to her best advantage. You NEVER knew when she was going to appear behind you just as you had your proverbial hand in the cookie jar.

So anyway, last week on a Thursday night, Mom and I attended a Piedmont Wind Symphony concert, in which my sister plays bass clarinet. It was a benefit concert for Home Moravian Church in historic Old Salem. (In fact, the photo on the web site's home page was taken that night in the church. My sister is on the far right in the second row.) But I digress, as usual.

While we were enjoying the concert, my son texted me with weather updates. A powerful storm cell was heading straight for us, and tornado sirens were going off all over the region. Mom and I were sitting in the balcony, so I kept one eye on the stained glass windows, figuring if the hanging light fixtures started to sway in the 400-year-old building, we'd head for lower ground.

I texted Dylan to get to the basement with Katie, and to please unplug my laptop on the way. When we got home, all was well, but Dylan was stuttering with excitement and poor Katie was white as a sheet, teeth chattering. And not because of the storm. They're Ohio kids - tornado warnings are routine for them. They were already in the basement before I told them to go there.

Slowly, between the two of them, the story came out. When they first went down to the basement - which is Mom's ginormous sewing area - both Dylan and Katie had the distinct feeling they weren't alone. Almost simultaneously, Katie said "I feel like someone else is in here" and Dylan said "I feel like Grandpa just walked into the room." (My father died about a year ago, and hadn't been able to leave the ground floor for several years prior.)

They shrugged it off, turned on the TV and watched the weather channel. Keep in mind my mother's dress form sits just off to the right of the TV, within eyeline. It's always facing toward the center of the room.

When Dylan come downstairs from unplugging computers, he noticed something odd. The dress form was turned a quarter turn toward the wall. He made a comment but Katie hadn't noticed it before. A bit later, he went back upstairs for some ice cream. When he came back down, Katie was curled up on the couch, shaking.

She had seen the dress form slowly spinning around by itself. It now had its back to the room. Of course, Katie was scared to death, but Dylan laughed and said "It's just Grandpa messing with you. He wouldn't tease you if he didn't like you."

Indeed, when my sister and I were growing up and had sleepovers with friends, Dad delighted in finding ways to scare the bejeebers out of us!

Later on that night, in the wee hours, I was sitting alone in the family room playing Vampire Wars on Facebook (a game that kept me sane while Dad was in hospice). Dad was always a night owl, and when we visited I always sat up late with him while he worked on his computer or recorded old movies from a classic movie channel. We didn't always talk, just kept each other company.

The house has a security system with motion detectors all over the place. Even when it's disarmed, you can hear a faint "beep" when you walk through a room and break one of the invisible beams.

So as I sat there in the silence, nothing in the room was moving. Yet I kept hearing that quiet little "beep" at odd intervals. It was coming from the detector right behind where Dad's favorite chair used to sit. After about the sixth or seventh beep, I glanced in that direction and said softly, "Hi Dad. I know you're here. Now go to bed."

The beeps stopped. Smiling to myself, I went back to killing virtual vampires. Comforted that our loved ones never really leave us.



(Image from Scarier Than Norman Bates' Mother by C. Taylor)

P.S. - Hey, don't forget, the annual Spring Showers extravaganza is coming up on Coffee Time Romance! Click here for details.
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