“I didn’t grow up in Detroit. I lived in this small town outside of it. It was really nice. All those big houses and really rich people. There was this one family. Dad was always out working. Two kids. The daughter had married and moved out. The mom as home all the time and she got really depressed. I’d met her once and she was very quiet. I didn’t know it, but she was an alcoholic and eventually she drank herself to death. Her liver failed. Her son was left alone. During the summer, the Dad had to work. So he asked a friend of mine if he could look after his son. My friend agreed, but he didn’t really look after the kid and we had parties in the house. One day while we were there, we were telling ghost stories and my friend said, ‘I’ve got this weird one to tell you guys’. A few nights ago, he had been in his room and he fell asleep. As he was dreaming, he realized that he was outside of his body. So he decided to walk through the house and when he came into the kitchen, the entire family of the house was in there—including the mother who had died. My friend went up to her, and her face was bone white. She was dead. The mother was holding this little baby. My friend asked her if she wanted to go and she said, ‘I want to go, but somebody has to look after this baby.’ He woke up right after that. We were all freaked out by the story.
About a year later, I remembered the story and I asked him about it. He said that when the father got back from his trip, he told him about his dream. The father had given him this strange look and said, ‘No one knows this, but my daughter had a baby who died of crib death in this house.’”
My informant is catholic and believed that the mother was trapped in the house to pay for her sins of drinking and leaving her son behind. She had to take care of another child in the afterlife. He also believed that the baby couldn’t go to heaven because it was so young and it still needed someone to take care of it. He said that he liked the story because he liked to believe the stories of rich families with hidden pasts in those big houses. “You never really know where all that money came from” he said.
My informant’s analysis of why the child and mother were in the house really corresponds well with ghost belief in the church. A mother who sinned is punished, but the child who hadn’t been christen yet is trapped as well. A baby is not really a member of the community until that moment and thus is in a state where it is vulnerable.