Pam Kiser was my mother’s best friend for almost 30 years. She was my mother’s “soul sister” and even my god-mother. Since Pam was a young girl, she was physically and emotionally abused by her father; this occurred even after she left for college. He always kept a tight hold on his daughter, and when she finally got married to her husband, Keith, a very respectable doctor in their area, her father became even more emotionally abusive towards Pam. This was a demon that Pam and her husband had to deal with until her father died about 10 years later. “To be honest,” my mother admits, “the demons continued to haunt Pam for years up until the day she took her life.”
August 12th, 2006, was the day my mother lost her best friend, not to natural causes, but to the simple pull of trigger. Ever since then, my mother has never been the same. She continues to sense Pam in everything she does. “I wanted to stay in bed,” Mom would complain, “but I could hear Pam telling me to get my lazy arse (butt) up!” “Pam helped me get through a tough day today; I could almost feel her wrapping her arms around me.” “Pam reminded me today that I am so lucky to have children like I do; I know she misses her girls terribly.” Comments like this from my mother’s mouth are not peculiar, for she senses her best friend almost every day.
The week after Pam passed away, a few strange occurrences happened to my mother during her time of grief. Pam was known to be the “social butterfly” of our community in Sugar Land, Texas. Every one knew the Kiser family, and to know Pam was to love her. Because of this, Pam became associated with butterflies on a regular basis. People gave her gifts constantly that had something to do with a butterfly — coffee mugs, posters, even cardigans. Every time my mom would pass a butterfly item in a vintage shop or at the department store, she had to buy the item for Pam. The day after Pam’s funeral, my mother decided to take a personal trip to her grave to mourn. “I sat there at her grave, crying and yelling at her, telling her that she was so (pause) SO selfish for leaving me and her family. I was so incredibly angry at her and I needed answers. Her poor husband and children needed answers! But as I sat there weeping, a cool breeze blew across my neck and a yellow butterfly — her favorite color — flew down and landed on my shoulder. Suddenly, all at once, I was at peace. It was her; her spirit was there trying to help me through. I’ve never felt so at peace…”
A few days later, my mother was going through some old photos of Pam to make a scrapbook. “I found so many amazing photos of Pam doing her normal stuff — volunteering and whatnot — but I could NOT find a single photo of us together for some reason. I was frantic that my best friend had possibly left the world without even taking a polaroid with me! (nostalgic chuckle) But that night, as I was putting on my jammies (pajamas), I found a picture of us in the top drawer of my closet. It was from a Christmas party years ago, when you (me) were just a baby. The funny thing is, though, I never remember taking that photo. I could recall every other photo I had taken of Pam, but not that one. It was just like it (trying to make sense of it) appeared. (pause… looks up) I knew it was her; she was there with me.”
The next day my mom went to take some old photos that she found to Pam’s mother, who still lives in Pam’s childhood home in northern Houston. “When I got there, Pam’s mom was, of course, distraught. I came in and talked to her for a little while. We cried for a bit, and then she brought up something strange. She said that a few nights after Pam took her life, the mirror on the right side of the parents’ bathroom — Pam’s father’s mirror — mysteriously fell and shattered. The woman had lived in that house for almost 45 years, and the mirror just then decided to fall. When I heard this I remembered Pam telling me about her relationship with her father, and how he used to treat her until he died. (very convinced) All at once I suddenly knew why Pam took her life. His demon (her father) still haunted her, and caught her at a moment of weakness… then boom. (she stares at the ground for a while after)”
At the end of the interview, my mother suddenly remembered something else. “Oh! And at her funeral, the weirdest thing happened. The funeral was inside, remember? (I nodded to agree) Well, remember that strange butterfly that landed on the podium as Pam’s daughter was speaking? (I nodded) Remember how it just came out of nowhere and happened to be inside? (again, I nodded) Remember what color it was? (pause) Yellow. It was yellow.”
Although this is an unorthodox ghost story, it still represents a spirit that remains with its loved ones. Pam’s spirit visited my mother and her own family through symbols of her past life. I know this is Pam trying to help her loved ones remember her good qualities in life, not the fact that she left without saying goodbye. This is common throughout many ghost stories — widows will experience “visitations” from their deceased spouses, etc. My mom may not have been Pam’s spouse, but Pam was everything to my mother, and the visitations my mom has experienced have helped appease her anguish.
My best friend, Maggie McMeans, is a current freshman at New York University studying theater performance. I have known Maggie since I was four years old, for we have lived 2 houses apart since then. As young kids, Maggie and I would play almost every day after school and always on the weekends. Maggie has always been an extremely animated, perky character, but some days as a kid she would seem a little “off” or disturbed by something. This would last for a couple days and then she’d go back to her normal self; I always asked her what was wrong but she wouldn’t tell me. One night when we went on a camping trip, 11 year old Maggie decided to tell me what had been bothering her for so many years at such random times. She told me about a “lady in red” that visited her about once or twice a year at night. I would continue to hear this story countless times over the later years of our friendship, so by the time I finally recorded this interview Maggie’s story was well rehearsed.
“When I was about 5 years old, I woke up to a strange sight. It wasn’t quite scary or anything; just…compelling? Compelling I would say…at least to a five year old. (chuckles) I remember having a bad dream and waking up…or at least I thought I woke up… that part I’m not sure of. Anyways, I sat up in bed to the sight of a young woman — probably in her late twenties — wearing a long flowing red dress. I couldn’t tell if she was floating because the dress covered up her feet, but her gown flowed with a breeze that was absent from my room. Like, there was no wind at ALL in my bedroom and her dress was still moving. I don’t remember what she said to me, but I do remember that she told me something that I later found out to be true. It was like she was a personal ghost psychic that came to predict my lame future. (sarcastically laughs) Every year that same ghost visited me on random nights — only a few nights a year though — until I was 12. When I was 9 I remember finally telling my mom about the lady in red, and she confessed that the SAME THING happened to her and her two sisters when they were children, and to their mother when she was a child. This ghost has apparently been (finger quotes) “haunting” the McMeans girls for generations, but we don’t know why. Perhaps it’s a dead ancestor paying her descendants a visit, or maybe we’re just cursed. (sarcastically) LOL.”
Maggie has been telling this story for years, and every time she tells it it becomes more like a performance. This is, as we discussed in class, an active barrier. The “Lady in Red” story seems to suggest that there was perhaps a past relative that died many years ago who feels as if she needs to look out for the women in her family, for she continues to come back and give them “psychic advice”. Stories from her mother and aunts seem to verify that this ghost must be real, but no women have officially recorded their experiences with the lady in red….until now…