Primary Language: English
Other language(s): N/A
Age (of informant): 20
Performance Date: November 27, 2023
Tags: Ghost, Ghosts, Ghost Stories, Old woman, Childhood, Superstition, Death
Text/Context: My friend’s college roommate, a 20 year old female, has had a very strong belief in ghosts ever since she was a child. It all stemmed back to a night where she saw a physical manifestation of a woman at the end of her bed, and felt a strange sense of comfort rather than fear. She described the experience in the excerpt below:
“When I was seven years old my family moved to a house built in 1968. One night a few months after moving in, I woke up to find an old lady sitting at the end of my bed with her hand over the covers on my legs. It was hard to make out her features in the dark, but I knew I had never met her before. Although there was a stranger in my room, I didn’t feel any fear, instead I felt a sense of comfort wash over me. It felt as if a grandmother was watching over and protecting me. Almost immediately after waking up I fell back asleep and she was gone when I woke up the next morning. That day I told my mom about the old lady I saw in my room and she calmly told me that it was my grandmother who had come over. Unbeknownst to me, she was secretly freaking out because my grandmother had not been at our house the night before. Years later my mom brought up the old woman in my room, and told me her side of the story. She told me that the previous owners of our house had their mother living with them in the room that was eventually mine. The mother had died in bed of old age. My mom believes that the old woman who sat on the end of the bed was the mother who died in that room, and she appeared to me to show me she was there to comfort and protect me. My mom believes that the old woman was my guardian angel while I was living in the house, and I’d like to believe that too.“
My Thoughts: I think this story is incredibly interesting as it demonstrates how some ghosts can be seen as comforting or protective. Oftentimes in both modern media and older documents, ghosts are seen as terrifying figures bent on striking fear into the hearts of their victims. The ghost in this story was definitely peaceful, and simply wanted to be seen. If I was personally in this situation, it’s hard to imagine feeling comforted and not scared by another person being in one’s room in the middle of the night, but I believe that there was an instinctual reaction my storyteller had that convinced her she was safe. There is also a bit of the social aspect of ghosts shown in this story, as the storyteller’s mother originally tried to cover up the fact that her daughter had seen a ghost. The mother was afraid for her daughter’s safety and didn’t want her to understand what had truly happened. The reality of ghosts is very taboo, and is often not spoken about as if it were a serious matter. Because of this, the mother hid the story of the woman who died from her daughter for years until she felt she was mature enough to understand it. Perhaps the mother even needed time to understand what had happened herself. Lastly, I enjoy the storyteller’s optimistic outlook at the end of the excerpt, as she notes how she would like to believe that the woman was her guardian angel, rather than a malevolent figure.