Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here's a ghost story...

She was just stopping in for a nightcap.
One winter's night, long after I left home, my mother was sitting alone in the kitchen, smoking and sipping her drink while reading her novel.  The tv was on low so that she could hear the police radio plugged into her good ear.  Mom was hard of hearing.  Dad had gone to bed hours before, having had too much to drink - mom sipped - so she could drink longer.  Because it was a school night, my little brother Timmy was already in bed, sound asleep.
"I don't know if it was because I was reading a detective thriller or what, but shortly after midnight, I got the chills when I heard what sounded like Mary calling my name outside the kitchen window."  Mom would begin.  "So I turned the radio down, switched off the tv and sat there listening while I continued reading, thinking if someone is out there, they will call me again."  (Try to imagine my Mom and Dad played by Katherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy)
It was only a few moments after making herself another whiskey water that mom heard her name called again; beneath the tinkling of the ice in her glass she heard a woman's voice, "Betty!"  Mom jumped to her feet and looked out through the window curtains, certain the woman next door had come over after seeing the light in the house.  "Mary, is that you?"  My mother called out as she made her way to the back door.
She looked out, but no one was there... just the cold wind and blowing snow... newly fallen snow...
Suddenly my mother noticed the delicate footprints, the size of a petite woman's slippers, making their way to the door - yet none going away.  The scenario of the neighbor lady visiting late at night was so familiar to my mother that she had momentarily forgotten that Mary had died the previous year.  Mary was dead - yet she called to her that night, and her little footprints remained in the snow as proof. 
"Isn't that right Kenny!  It happened just like that!"  Mom would always say to my Dad after telling the story.  And Dad would always give a tenderhearted chuckle and gently say, "It sure did honey - Mary thought the world of you."
Oh, and then my brother Timmy would say all excited - "Yeah - I saw it too - it was Mrs. R's ghost come to see Mom!"
And Dad would always give another tenderhearted chuckle and gently say, "You sure did hon - Mary thought the world of your Mother."  And then Mom would cry and start drying her tears with a dirty Kleenex while Dad fixed another round.
After my Mom died, neither my Dad or Tim would admit they saw or heard anything that night but the tv and the police radio.


  1. I believe the dead do call us, or that at least, they can. This is your blog and I'm leaving a comment not a post so I will be brief:

    Dad was, to put it mildly, antagonistic toward Christianity, any stripe or colour of it. He was less than happy when at age 19 I got all born again. Dad was a lifelong alcoholic and late in life, too late to save his family, he finally sought some help and discovered he was manic depressive. In our childhood he was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive. By the time he died he had pushed everyone away.

    I saw him a week before he died, in hospital, where he made it known some born-againer distant relation of his had been to visit but he wasn't getting anyone saved. We didn't share much. There wasn't much to share. We tried. A couple of warm memories, that's all. He knew he wasn't going home again. When I was leaving, at the door of the ward, he said, "I'm sorry it didn't work out better." I hid my anger and just said, "Me too Dad." Final words.

    He left the world with about as little reconciliation with family as a person can and each of us bore many scars and my brother and I as the only Christians in the family carried our secret guilt for being only limitedly able to forgive him, even posthumously.

    Jump more than five years and by that time I had been Catholic for 11 months. I was praying the 30 Days for the Souls in Purgatory. Three weeks or so into this devotion I was in a totally quiet house, at night, the only one up. I wasn't thinking specifically of Dad but was moved by the line in a litany that says, "For those for whom no one prays - Lord, have mercy" when I heard, nearly audibly, my father's voice speak one word, my nic-name, a name no one but he ever called me and that no one outside the family knows. I have never shared it an never will but that night I heard it and I replied out loud, "I love you Dad." and heard back, "I love you son." I felt toward my father the way I felt when I was a very little boy and have not felt toward him since.

    It happened that yesterday I was telling this story to my Mom, over the phone. I'd never shared it before. She is one of my best friends though not a Christian. She told me that one day about a year after her dad died she distinctly heard him call her by name, just her name. It was so strong an impression she said, "Coming father" and went into the next room to see what he wanted only to realize mid steps what she was doing.

    - - -
    P.S. My new daily comic diary of a Catholic convert is up and running. I forget if I emailed you on that Terry.

  2. Owen - that is a beautiful story. I definitely believe God permits such things - I have experienced similar things myself.

    The story of my mom was funny for my family since she was obviously not sober, and as it turned out, was the only one to witness it - my dad and brother only thought they had. I neglected to mention that my mother was also 'fascinated' by the occult - I may do a post on that.

    Your story is a holy story however. Thanks much for sharing it.

  3. saintos - wow. That was beautiful.

  4. Saintos , that really is a great story.
    Terry, in defense of your mother, I was patted on the back after labor three times ( and no one was there) I was also made fun of and my family insists that it was the medication, but I stand by the fact that there wasn't
    enough meds in my bloodstream. Sometimes the vail between this world and the next is kinda thin.

    I pray and hope that my children keep my sins and sorrows to themselves. I hope they never "out me". Parents make mistakes that can never be repaired. Mom's yell, and sometimes our tempers flare,and we say terrible things. Sometimes the long parental hours , worry and fatigue can be crushing and sometimes we put ourselves first, but there is always a deep love and respect for our children.

    Hurting Mothers hurt their children and many Moms can't even recognize what they have done until years later , if ever.

    It's particularly difficult for parents who aren't religious to understand and appreciate their children who are religious, and what a gift these children are to their families !

    (I'm not trying to provoke you or make you mad.)

  5. Saintos took the fun out of my post - Anyway, Belinda - don't transfer your guilt and fears onto my story telling - my mother told this story over and over and over and would do so again given the chance. Your crazy little universe is all your own. ;D


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