This is my entry for Week Six of The Real LJ Idol competition, where the topic is "Ghosts." I'll post an update about voting later in the week. If you haven't already, you may want to join therealljidol, since some voting will be restricted to community members. Thanks so much to everyone who has voted for me so far!
Of all our family ghost stories, my favorites involve my siblings and me. Not as witnesses of paranormal phenomena, you understand. Us as ghosts.
You see, my parents claim they met each of us in spirit form before we were born.
I'm the oldest, born just before my dad set up his medical practice in Central Pennsylvania. He says he first met me in medical school. When he returned to his room one night, he saw an old woman, perched on his dresser, wearing a cardigan. She smiled at him kindly, her merry blue eyes twinkling. Before he could speak, she disappeared, but he sensed she was someone who would be important in his life.
When I was born, Dad gazed down on me and recognized those merry blue eyes. He says he knew exactly who I was.
Perhaps this explains why I take after my father, whereas my siblings take after my mother. When I was a teenager I hated that Dad and I routinely laughed at the same things. I once accused him of copying me and stormed out of the room. This sighting could explain my vivid memories of Dad smoking a pipe, while he claims he stopped smoking before I was born. That could also explain my fondness for cardigan sweaters. And come to think of it, I have always felt quite comfortable bearing an "old lady" name.
My brother made a more dramatic entrance. Mom says she was lying in bed one night when someone climbed in next to her. At first, she thought it was my father, but then she realized Dad was already lying on her other side. She turned to see who had joined them, and she saw a young man with brown hair who looked like my brother would look in his 20s. Shortly afterwards, Mom learned she was pregnant with my brother.
But the story of my sister is by far the best. At the time, I was about 6 and my brother was about 4. After we had gone to bed, my parents were engaged in their newest occupation: consulting a Ouija board.
My parents spoke with a spirit called Eleanor who claimed she knew them from past lives. She described herself as a young woman with brunette hair and brown eyes, and she told them stories about what had happened in their shared past. According to Eleanor, my brother and my mother had been connected in many past lives, usually as mother and son. Eleanor had also been connected to my mother before, sometimes as a daughter and sometimes as another relative. I had been my mother's aunt, and Eleanor didn't know my father. She called him a "young soul."
When my mom asked Eleanor to provide proof of her presence, somebody grasped Mom's arm from behind. Gently, she said, and surprisingly warm.
But Eleanor eventually tired of these games. Since she was the last related spirit left on the other side, she said she was coming over in the form of a baby. She asked my mom to name her Eleanor. Shortly afterwards, my mother discovered she was pregnant with my sister. When she and Dad could no longer reach Eleanor on the Ouija board, they put the board away and cautioned us children to never, ever play with it.
My mom couldn't bring herself to name my sister Eleanor, since the whole experience had unnerved her. When my sister was born, she was a pleasant, blue-eyed, sweet-faced baby. My mom, who had feared something out of Rosemary's Baby, breathed a sigh of relief.
One day, when my sister was very young, my mom caught her looking in the mirror with a very strange look on her face. "What's wrong?" my mom asked.
"My eyes are the wrong color," she said.
If my sister still had past life memories at that point, they faded as she grew older. Now, she likes to relate these stories as much as we do. And I imagine her reasons are similar to mine. I like the idea that those who matter to us might be connected to us across multiple lifetimes. Although I was raised Christian, I also like the idea that you get multiple chances to improve and grow as a soul.
At my grandmother's funeral, when I was about 20, I drove down to the Pennsylvania coal region with my mom. My mom wanted to be involved in the preparation of my grandmother for burial, so I had gone with her to the funeral home to help to dress her. Nana's skin was hard and waxy, her head resting on a brick. The door was open to a back hallway, and I thought I saw a silhouette, watching us in the dark.
Mom and I stayed in a hotel room the night before the funeral, tossing and turning. At the ungodly hour of 5 a.m., we gave in. "Are you awake?" Mom asked.
"Yes," I admitted.
Then she told me something she had never told me before. She said that Eleanor also told them about the purpose each of us had for this lifetime. Mine, she said, was to develop my spiritual side. This is interesting, since I'm a Type A personality with a tendency towards being analytical. I simply nodded, and said, "I think I knew that."
Why else would I be born into a family which reveled in open talk of faeries and spirits, clairvoyance and dreams? What a perfect place for a spiritually-stunted person to expand her thinking. Where else, but in a family of ghosts?
There are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.