A Mother’s a Mother ~ Even When She’s a Ghost
by Shanon Grey
I’m going to tell you a different kind of ghost story. I am not referring to the ghosts we tell stories about while sitting around campfires or, in the dead of night, when a gaggle of girls squeal in fright during a slumber party. Yes, I am talking about real ghosts.
Bah, you say. Well, have you never walked into a different part of a house and felt a chill in the air? Have you never felt that someone was watching you, but no one was there? Have you left something in one place and found it in another, totally unexpected, place? Or, seen things out of the corner of your eye, yet, no matter how fast your movements, you can’t catch a glimpse of it. Unexplained phenomena, every one. Some, one, or all could have been instigated by ghosts.
I, myself, have a plethora of ghostly experiences from which to choose; however, I think I will share the one about my mother. It is the one experience that taught me to be open to all possibilities. You see, my mother died of cancer right after I turned 9 years old. I don’t remember a lot about her except that she had been ill for a long time and, being a little kid, I went about my life, thinking this was the way it was supposed to be, since no one told me how sick she was. Or, if they did, I had no concept of grave illness and death. So, when she died, I was devastated. To be more accurate, I was traumatized, so much so, that I don’t have a memory of the following year. In fact, I didn’t know I’d lost a year of my life until I was almost an adult.
My experiences with the paranormal didn’t start until I was a bit older, after my father remarried, and I found myself at odds with my new stepmother. I know what you are thinking—“She was probably resentful and acting out”—which is what most thought. And yes, eventually, I suppose I did become that snarky rebellious teenager. But it took quite a while because, you see, I wanted a mother in the worse way. I won’t go into the details of why she wasn’t receptive of my efforts. I will just leave it at the fact that she wasn’t. After one of our more vicious bouts, I was restricted to my bedroom and threw myself across my bed, crying, my heart broken. I remember being cold and miserable when I drifted off. The feel of an arm going around me, holding me close, woke me. I reached up but felt no arm or hand, yet the sensation of being held continued. My nose felt cold, yet my body, even outside of the covers, felt warm. Being a bit of a burgeoning sleuth (having devoured more than my fair share of Nancy Drew stories), I remained motionless, while employing all my senses, the first one not to run screaming from the room. Listening, I heard no one breathing. There was a faint floral scent, but too faint to pinpoint. The room was too dark to see anything and I was afraid that, if I moved, whatever it was would go away and I would lose the feeling of comfort I felt. I realized that I wasn’t afraid and lay there, still as a stick, savoring the comfort, taking in the details so I would remember it. The next thing I knew it was morning and I was lying on top of my bed, fully clothed with no evidence of the other side of the bed having been disturbed.
That experience occurred several times over the years, usually when I would go through a particularly rough patch with my stepmother or stepsister. Never once did I find any evidence of it being real. After a while, I didn’t care. In those moments, I felt comforted and loved.
Eventually, I was removed from the household and ended up living with my aunt, which gave me a wonderfully “normal” high school experience, which I would later learn, never would have happened had I stayed with my family. As soon as I was out of the house and with my aunt, the visitations stopped. And later, around the time I was getting ready to graduate from high school, I had a dream about my ghostly visitor. In the dream—I assume it was a dream—I opened the door into the garage at my stepmother’s house to find a group of individuals sitting around in a circle on the floor. There was one open place and I went and took my position in the circle. My real mother was sitting next to me, looking lovely and well, something I don’t recall when she was alive. I don’t remember hearing her voice, but, somehow, she let me know that this was the last time she would be with me, unless I really needed her, and that I would be fine. Everyone began to fade and, as the panic began to overcome me, I felt that same sense of comfort I’d felt every time the arms had been around me and I knew, without a doubt, that it had been her spirit that had held me. I woke and she was gone.
Many years later, when my then boyfriend and I had come back from night classes at the university, I had my next experience. He had just told me that he had made a decision to move overseas. Shocked, I pretended to be thrilled for him, it being his dream to return to a place he’d been happiest, but inside I was hurting. With a smile and a stiff upper lip, I listened to his plans and his excitement until I couldn’t take it anymore and fled to my bedroom. As I stepped through the doorway, there, lying on my bed, was my mother, looking to be peacefully asleep. Either I squeaked or my boyfriend had come after me, because he ran right into the back of me, grabbing my arms to steady us. In my ear, he whispered, “Who’s that?” I turned my head, looked up at him and whispered, “My mother.” When I turned back, she was gone. We had both seen her, appearing as corporal as any living being. Suddenly the memory of all those years past came flooding back and, instead of being afraid, I knew I would be all right. Not only did I encourage him to find his dream, I helped him pack to leave.
It would be wonderful to say I was fine, but I wasn’t. I was absolutely miserable. I took a second job and worked myself to the bone, alternately crying that I’d sent him away and cursing him that he’d left me. I didn’t understand the vision we’d seen. I’d felt the comfort, yet he’d still left. I even got mad at the ghost, yelling into nothingness that she was wrong. But, she wasn’t, I just didn’t know it at the time.
As it turned out, the woman that hired me that summer turned out to be more of a mother to me than I’d ever known. We developed a friendship that lasted thirty-five years, until she passed away from cancer. During all those wonderful years, she encouraged me to pursue my dreams and be the woman I am today.
And the boyfriend? He came back that fall. He never made it to Europe because, as he told me when he took me in his arms, he knew as soon as he’d left that he didn’t want to be without me. My husband and I have been ecstatically happy for over three decades.
Mary, my surrogate mother and best friend, proved to be the best grandmother my kids could ever want. So, when her ghost appeared one night sitting on my bed, awakening me to tell me how proud she was of me for accomplishing my dream of being an author, I calmly sat up in bed and told her how much I loved her and missed her. When I woke the next morning, I was still sitting up against the pillows I’d piled against the headboard of the bed.
I’ve never seen my mother again. Nevertheless, I will be eternally grateful for the comfort and love she offered me when I needed it the most.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ~ TO ALL MOTHERS,
BOTH ON EARTH AND BEYOND THE VEIL!