USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘family ghosts’
Folk Beliefs
Legends

Ghost in Grandmother’s House

Main Piece:

Particpant/interviewee marked as AM below. Interviewer (me) marked with LJ.

AM: So, it was, like a story of…there was a story about a little girl in my grandma’s house. So all of them…so my Tia Brenda, she went to school with a girl that passed away, like the girl was weird, she didn’t talk to anybody. And she didn’t have friends, they bullied her a lot. For some reason, my aunt talked to her. Um so like when she died, by aunt was we my grandma telling her “she’s here. Like she wants to talk to me.” My grandma was like “you’re crazy, what are you talking about?” And then, um, one of my aunts saw the girl. One of my other aunts. She told my grandma “oh no Ma, Brenda’s not lying, I saw the little girl too. She wants to tell Brenda something, but she doesn’t listen.”

They eventually moved out of that house, when my aunt turned 15. They moved to San Bernandino. And then the girl would talk to her again, but like trying to tell her something about my grandma. But my grandma still didn’t believe it. And then they moved again, to like Tahoe. And one day my grandma was home alone at night–the whole night. She said that something woke her up, like something tapped her. Haha.  When she woke up, like nobody was there. And then she finally saw the little girl. And then, so, she believed the little girl was there, but they didn’t know why she was there. They didn’t know why she kept coming.

A couple of years ago, my little cousin, Alondra went to go visit them and the same girl woke her up. Haha. And then like she said “you need to tell your Tia Brenda to stop doing bad things. Like she needs to be a good mom. She’s a bad daughter.” She told my little cousin this. Once they told my mom, they believed her. They told my Tia and she finally believed it, but she didn’t change. I haven’t heard anything about her since then.

 

Context:

Asked if anyone knew any ghost stories. I recorded this then.

Background:

The participant is a first year student at the University of Southern California. She was raised in South Central, Los Angeles around the university in a Mexican household. She believes in the existence of ghosts and has heard this story from her family, but nothing has happened to her personally.

Analysis:

The participant called this entity a ghost throughout the entire story. However, ghosts, are typically associated with one location. As Professor Tok Thompson said during a lecture “ghosts help us remember horrific acts.” Perhaps it was not a ghost that was following the family or why would the little girl become attached to Tia Brenda and her family?

It is interesting that the little girl’s message told Tia Brenda to be a better person. It might have been the little cousin creating a story, inadvertently, having grown up hearing stories about her aunts and grandmother seeing the ghost of a little girl. It might commemorate the story of this little girl who was ignored and bullied because she was different and then died (cause of death unknown). The story may have evolved to reflect how the family felt about Tia Brenda.

Typically, it was children seeing this girl. When the grandma saw her, she had been sleeping. It could all be a story, or it could be real, but no proof exists.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Legends
Narrative

Grandma’s Ghost

Informant (A.G.) is an 18 year old student from Los Angeles.

A.G.: “My mom is really religious and my grandma is really religious. I was raised Catholic and I used to go to church and stuff”

While his “dad is Italian” and his “mom is Colombian,” they “both grew up in Columbia” to come here when they were “18 or 19.” Alex’s mom is a “stay at home mom,” and his dad does “construction” and owns some local “properties.” We grew up in the same area of Los Angeles, and started to hang out in high school. He was telling some ghost stories at a party one weekend, so I set up an interview for the following Saturday afternoon. I picked him up and brought him to our mutual friend’s house to conduct the collection.

A.G.: “In my apartment building, we used to live in one of the back apartment units.”

While the family still owns the apartment building, A.G. has since upgraded to a nearby house.

A.G.: “At the dinner table… my brother and sister used to talk about stuff that would happen to them because our house was super creepy.”

Here “our house” refers to the family’s apartment building.

A.G.’s family connects over the supernatural. For instance, while the non-religious A.G. is less concerned with Christianity than his pious mother, she is less concerned with the supernatural. However, they all contribute supernatural experiences to the dinner table discussion.

A.G.: “This happened to my mom. It was weird hearing it from her because she’s always like ‘oh that stuff’s bullshit.’ This happened in Florida when she was visiting my grandma in her last days. After a few days after she passed away, my mom said she was sleeping in the living room or something and then she said that she woke up at night and the TV was on and she saw a figure that reminded her of her mom.”

A.G’s mother’s experience of seeing a recently deceased family member is a regular part of the grieving process. Such memorates, referred to as crisis apparitions, make up a large part of the ghost story genre. While A.G.’s mother’s experience was attached to the deceased grandmother, A.G.’s siblings had their own supernatural experiences attached to the old apartment building. Whether it’s remembering the loss of a loved one, or a displeasurable living situation, I interpret the exchange of scary stories to be the family’s way of bonding over personal tribulations.

For more ghost stories about deceased loved ones, visit http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/23/living/crisis-apparitions/

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