I blogged about superstitions and ghosts back in December, when I mentioned my hometown of Oswego, NY. This past week, I had an opportunity to go home when my ninety-year-old grandmother was hospitalized. It was a sad reason to have to go home, but had a good ending since she's back in her nursing home now and alive, thanks to my uncle's fast response.
But by going home, I had some ghosts I had to face that I wasn't sure I was ready for. My other gramma, Great Gramma Dot (I've blogged about her before), passed away three years ago. The last time I went home, it was to bury her, help my mother settle her estate, and put our family home on the market. As you can imagine, it was a brutally painful time. We were further traumatized when, just a week after gramma's passing, my uncle, Bobby, committed suicide in the Oswego River. You cannot imagine the ghosts and demons that haunt me every time I see that river now.
So going home was a bag of mixed emotions for me. Adding to this, I brought my children with me and they don't understand why it's so hard to see some parts of the river, or Lake Ontario, where Bobby's body washed up a month later. They don't understand the pain I felt kneeling at gramma's graveside, my heart ripped in two because it wasn't being kept up as I had hoped it would be through a network of cemetery groundskeepers, the church, and friends. But my children and I planted flowers and tidied it up the best we could. And it brought me unexpected joy to share this with them and to teach them to care for and respect the people we've loved and lost. I felt like the whole time I was there, my gramma was protecting me, walking with me, and comforting me. Oddly enough, I felt no pain when I saw her old home. Though it has so many visceral memories for me, I realize now it's just a house. She's not there anymore. She's watching over me.
On our excruciatingly long drive up to NY, my son brought up the subject of ghosts. Hmmmm. Foreshadowing? Intuition? He bust out this old book handed down to him by his father called, Mysteries of the Unknown. (It's a great Usborne book that's out of print.) He very seriously opened it to the ghost section and proceeded to "research" ghosts and explain why he thought they were real based on these "facts." He asked me my opinion as well. My answer? Yes, I believe ghosts are real. Then he asked if I'd ever seen one. No, but I'm open to it (if it was a really friendly ghost, of course). But, let's be real. I'm a great writer of scary things, but inside, I'm just a great big sissy-pants.
What you may not know is that I also practice Intuitive Reiki, under the direction of Reiki Master, Deb Benton, one of the most amazing people I know. The only reason I mention this is because I have always been intuition driven. I trust my instincts. I can hear and feel things sometimes that others cannot. I know for a fact that even though I have never seen a ghost, I have felt their presence. I used to feel them a lot when I stayed at my gramma's house. She lives next door to a cemetery where I grew up playing. (Yes, this freaky, little girl played in a cemetery for fun!) I felt the presence of a harmless, female ghost in her house, but I never saw her. I also had a very odd experience while out running one night. I never blogged about it here, but maybe one day I will. Let's just say I was trailed by a dead runner, who I thought was carrying negative energy with him, but later, I believed he was protecting me by pushing me home instead of on the longer run I was originally planning. He was scared for me, and in turn, scared me enough to make me head in a different direction than I had planned. I don't question that I did the right thing or that I was protected that night by my guardians.
I also swear we had a ghost cat at our old house because I was constantly seeing a cat run by in our bedroom, when our other cats were all locked up downstairs for the night.
So, back to NY. I told my son about Fort Ontario and how it's haunted. The T.V. show Ghost Hunters filmed a reading there and agreed it was (picture courtesy of Ghost Hunters and the Syfy channel). Anyone living in Oswego can tell you that. Like my uncles who lived on the Fort when there was still housing standing that had been converted into apartments from old barracks and officer buildings. The ghosts at the Fort are from the soldiers who fought there, and holocaust survivors who fled there. It has an amazing history if you ever want to read about it.
There is also a cemetery at the Fort. When we were kids, we used to go there and along the way, someone taught me to jump over George Fikes grave for good luck, and kind of as a dare. We all did it. He was known as the headless horseman and even my grandfather saw his ghost while out fishing one day. So, of course, armed with my six year old son's ghost hunting gear (binoculars, camera, flash light, messenger bag) we set out to hunt for George's ghost.
When we got to the cemetery, I kid you not, my daughter grabbed my hand and pulled me across the lot to the incline that takes you to the spot where my grandfather saw the ghost while fishing! It started raining while we were there, so we headed back up to the cemetery. In the most respectful way possible, we called on the ghost of George Fikes to no avail. But while we were there, my son, my daughter, our family babysitter, and I all jumped over the soldier's grave. You know, for good luck. (And for the cool factor to a six year old!)
Cut to our trip home. We stopped by my cousin's house, who will remain nameless for privacy sake. She and her brother had both seen ghosts in their home in Harper's Ferry while growing up. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it too is a historical battle ground and there's said to be many ghosts still present. Often this is the case where mass casualties have occurred. So, when they were growing up, both cousins would run into my uncle and aunt's room insisting that "the man" was in their room again. One saw him with no arms or legs, as if they'd been blown off. The other saw him in the upper reaches of his closet (yeah, cause this won't scare the crap out of a kid!).
The strange thing is, my cousins went back years later and the house had been converted to a real estate office. They asked if they could peek around and told the owner they used to live there. The new owner said something along the lines of, "Oh, so you must know there's a ghost here then." My cousin about fell out. It's one thing to believe it in your heart. It's another to hear it verified. The woman even told my cousin which room the ghost was mostly in. It was her childhood bedroom. My cousin had named the man Mr. Brady because he looked like the father on the Brady Bunch.
So, of course, while we were there, we had to go drive by the house and visit Harper's Ferry. I mean, it's a ghost lover's destination. And our trip had already turned into confronting ghosts and hunting ghosts. So, off we went! When we got there, the house had changed hands again and now belongs to an Acupuncturist. We were looking around the outside at my cousin's bedroom window, when the owner came out to talk to us. We told her why we were there, and that my son is fascinated by ghosts. Then she says, without prompting, that they have a ghost. One of her patients, a young boy, can see him. A him. He told the owner it looks like he's wearing a curly wig (um, like Mr. Brady?). It was so cool, and so vindicating for my cousin. Then, the owner lets us go in and look around!
My son was in heaven! I was kind of nervous he'd say, "Mom, I see him!" But he didn't. I was so proud of him though. Here I was, about to poo my pants I was so scared, and he fearlessly marches into rooms and throws open doors! He even went into the attic, which used to be slave quarters. The only "odd" thing that happened while we were there, is my daughter did open my other cousin's closet door a couple of times and looked down at the same spot. She didn't act scared. She didn't say she saw anything. But she did it two or three times. The only room that had a heavier feel to it, to me, was the attic. I didn't see anything, and maybe it was just the general spook factor, but the air seemed heavier, full of more pain.
So, did we see any ghosts? I don't think so, and Gbug can't tell us for sure. Were we brave? Yes. Either that, or stupid. Was it fun? Yeah, it really was. And it gave us a trip full of fun and funny memories that we will never forget. My son got to go on his first real ghost hunt. Somehow, I think it's just the beginning.