My father’s family is very catholic and spiritual, so I knew they would be a good source for ghost stories. My grandmother is always telling everyone stories of spirits, or saints meddling in our lives. I remembered a story that my Grandmother often repeated because it highlighted a few of the motifs we’ve seen in class.
“One of my sisters, Flora, my favorite sister, passed away. And then her granddaughter and her husband wanted to have – she was living in Clovis, New Mexico, where her children lived- and then her granddaughter and her husband wanted to have her buried in Wyoming, where they lived when her husband passed away. So they had her cremated and on the way there…they stopped here in Colorado and they brought the urn in. It was like real polished wood and had a brass on the front with the date of her birth and the date of her death. And they put that on the table in the living room. And anyway that night when we were all asleep, I just, I heard some music. I thought, “Where is that music coming from?” I woke up and then I looked at the clock and it said 12:19. So anyway, I got up and went downstairs and the stereo had gone on by itself. So then I turned it off and went back to bed. And then the next morning, I remembered that she died on December 19, the time the music started playing. And after that, that stereo would go on by itself when we had special company, but it always went on at that time of the night. And so, I had my brother, Effrey, and his wife were here and then that music went on at night. The next morning I asked them if they had heard the music. He didn’t, but she did. She said, “Oh yes, I heard some beautiful music playing.” And I told her what had happened. It kept doing that for quite a while and then it eventually stopped doing it anymore. So, that was a strange thing that happened, but I felt her spirit was with us. And that was a good feeling.”
The first thing I noticed when I tried to collect this story from my Grandmother was her reaction to the word ‘ghosts.’ When asked if she knew any ghost stories, she quickly responded, “Oh no, I don’t like scary stories.” Only when I proceeded to explain that I meant spirits as well did she mention this story. This response to ‘ghosts’ or another specific word referring to them was seen in the research done on elderly women in England.
My family is very spiritual and believes that spirits are around us; rather they are family members or official spirits like saints. My grandmother and her many sisters were very close and they were often visiting at her house. The great aunt we saw most often was our Aunt Flora. When she would visit, she and my grandmother would make tortillas and other foods while listening to music and singing and dancing around the kitchen. So not surprisingly, most of my family takes my grandmother seriously when she tells this story. Interesting enough, most of them would not admit to believing in ghosts. This shows that their beliefs on the afterlife may only be for certain functions. My Grandmother believes the music was a sign that her sister was still visiting her even after her death.
This story is an interesting case because it is clearly a ghost story, but its told by someone that states their disbelief in ghosts.
November 4, 2011
Los Angeles, CA