Great-Grandfather’s Ghost

“My grandmother’s father died when she was 18 months old which left my mom’s mother’s mother widowed with nine children in the Great Depression. He died of a heart attack suddenly and was found by his son in the barn.  Grammy (her great-grandmother) didn’t know what to do or how she was going to live.  One day, she woke up and saw her grandfather standing at the edge of the bed and his ghost said ‘Lilly, don’t worry.’  It gave her the strength to do it.  I don’t know how you would raise nine kids without money.

My aunt Martha, Grammy’s sister, had kids when she was already 40.  People would tease her daughter that her parents would die before she became an adult.  One night the daughter had a dream where she thought she saw Jesus.  Jesus said that he was going to take care of her and that her parents wouldn’t die before she became an adult.

A little while ago, the family was going through a photo album.  The girl who had had the dream pointed to a picture and said, ‘That’s Jesus.  I saw him in my dream.'”

The picture was of the same great-grandfather who had visited his wife.  The little girl had heard the story of the ghost but had never seen a picture before.

The informant had heard the story from her mother and grandmother and Aunt Martha.  They tend to tell the story when a large group of their family is around.  It is a story that she has been told many time.  The informant believes in the story strongly, and she says that it influenced her belief in angels and ghosts.  Once she was asked if she believed in ghosts and because of the story, she immediately replied yes.

This family legend is believable because of her close connection and trust in the storyteller, and the legend itself fosters belief in ghosts and spirits that protect rather than haunt.  The legend gives hope to those within the story and those who are merely the audience.  It is nice to have something to believe in, which is why I think this legend has held its credibility in her family through the generations.