general

It Runs in the Family

Ghost Story #1

“My grandmother died, my father’s mother, and her name was Emma Davenport. She lived in Cashmere, Washington, near Wenatchee. This was before Aya (her daughter) was born. It was about a month after she died and I can’t remember why but I was in a fight with my dad, and I was in bed. My grandmother’s house smelled like Downey Fabric Softener and Chester Filled Cigarettes, a bizarre mix of the two. I was laying in bed, I had fallen asleep early for some reason, and all of a sudden my room smelled like Downy Fabric Softener and Chester Filled Cigarettes and it was dark and I looked up and there was this dark shadowy figure on the ceiling and I heard her voice and I smelled her smell and she said “be nice to your dad” and then it was over and I got really, really sick and started throwing up.

How old were you when this happened?

I was about 32-years-old.

What time of the year did she die?

She died around November and I heard her voice around Christmas time a month later. Somebody told me that in Native American culture, it’s about 1 to 2 months that spirits return to talk to people after they died.

Were you frightened even though you knew your grandmother?

Yes, I was very scared, I think that’s why I got sick. She was always very intense […] she was very direct with me. She showed very little emotion. When she smoke it was a command more than anything. The strong smell and the intensity was very frightening. I have not had any other encounters with her since.

Were you nice to your dad after?

Yes, of course!

Ghost Story #2

My grandfather died, my mom’s dad, and I was talking to my grandma, they had been married for 70 years, I asked my grandmother if my grandad had come to see her and she said that it was about a week or two after he died and she was laying on the couch in the living room because she slept out there a lot. It was 3 or 4 in the morning and she woke up and saw him standing in the opposite corning of the room. I asked her if he said anything to her, and she said no and that he just wanted her to know that he was there, and that was it.

Did she have any other sensory sort of experiences besides just seeing him?

No, he was just standing there. She never had any other encounters with him.

Ghost Story #3

The same grandmother (as in story #2) died last summer, this is my maternal grandmother. After she died, I was super excited that she was going to come and visit me, the same way that grandad had visited her and the way that my other grandmother had visited me. I was really bummed because I was lighting sage, putting her things in the living room and I was pissed because my Grammy wouldn’t come and visit me! I would hear her voice in my head, and you have to imagine a kind of old lady voice, and whenever I would call her, she would say “hello, love”. That was always her greeting to me when she was alive, too. And I kept hearing Grammy’s voice saying “hello, love”. I kept hearing it all the time, and that’s all she would say and I was pissed that she hadn’t come to visit me! So I started googling what I would have to do to get someone to come and visit you after they died. I read something about ‘Clairaudience’ which is when you just hear their voices in your mind, and that’s how they can visit you and I realized that’s how Grammy was visiting me, that’s how she was talking to me and it went on for months after she died, “hello love”. I kept on trying to get her to talk to me but that is all I would hear, and it was completely involuntary, I wouldn’t be thinking of her coming to visit me, I would just hear it. So then, she was quiet for a few months until Christmas Eve this year, we went to my aunt’s house and we were all together and I heard her. It was like she was screaming “Hello love! Hello love! Hello love!” really loudly all night! I realized that she was upset that she wasn’t there. I haven’t heard her since.

Have you always believed in ghosts, ever since you were younger?

I didn’t believe or not believe, I had never experienced it before so I didn’t know. I just find it super interesting that both of my grandmothers visited me in such different ways and I wasn’t expecting either of them. Both of them were completely out of my control, it wasn’t anything that I had conjured up.

After having experiences with ghosts, did you find that your religion or belief in the afterlife changed at all?

It didn’t really change anything as much is it solidified the fact that I am spiritual and open minded that I don’t really know what happens, but we’ve got this energy in our bodies, in our mind and our thoughts and our feelings, and that has to go somewhere. I guess I have always believed in the concept of the soul being made up of all of the intangible parts of us. That has to go somewhere. I think that’s what was still around when they visited me.

 

Analysis

Lisa, the mother of my best friend, stated before the interview how excited she was to tell me all about her ghost story. As I asked her more about her spiritual views, it seemed as though she was very intact with her beliefs and that she has thought about how important her beliefs are to her. She stated also that she was not very religious, but I think that the way she spoke about her beliefs and how passionate she was about the soul and the energy in humans made her sound that she had constructed her own religion. Lisa was very open to talking about her experiences and was very comfortable asking all of my questions. It is fascinating that she had encounters with 3 different grandparents. Both of her grandmother’s seemed to have come to her in a very personalized manner, she could smell one of them, the other greeted her like how she did when she was younger. Her grandfather did not portray any characteristics of his life besides his appearance to her grandmother. All three of the encounters sounded very important to Lisa, and she sounded very comforted to know that her last memories with her loved ones may not always actually be her last. The sensory experiences that she had, between sight, smell, and auditory, all seemed to affect her in a different way. The lingering smell of her grandmother Emma made her very unsettled, while the soft voice of her Grammy comforted her a lot.

A key detail that came up was Emma’s appearance around Christmas time, as well as Grammy’s voice at Christmas Eve. I told Lisa about how Christmas is the Germanic Winter Solstice and about how it is a very liminal time period, similar to the liminal lives of ghosts in between the living and the dead. She immediately got excited about the information, hoping that next Christmas she may have another experience.

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