by Robin Burcell
|One of my Halloween pumpkins.
Do you remember the show PUSHING DAISIES? I ask because it figures into my real-life ghost story. With Halloween nearly upon us, and after reading the great posts by Rogues Jamie Freveletti (Haunted Chicago and Sherlock Holmes) and Lisa Black (My Visit to a Real Life Ghost Town), I was inspired to tell my own encounter with a very real-to-me specter. I’ll let you decide if it was or was not a product of an over-active imagination. After all, I’m a writer, and, to misquote Lewis Carroll, all the best ones are slightly mad…
Quickly, though, let me catch up those who are not familiar with Pushing Daisies.
It was a wonderful TV series about a pie-maker, who discovered that when he touched someone who was dead, he could bring them to life for a few seconds, whereby they’d utter something, usually a vague clue about how they died, and it was up to the pie-maker to solve the murder. Billed as a comedy, drama and fantasy, it didn’t take itself too seriously, obviously, but it was a delightful show during its two-year run (2007-2009).
Anyway, sometime after that show ran, my father was ill and in a convalescent home.
We were not particularly close (I was raised by my grandparents after he and my mother divorced), and I felt a mix of emotions when I and my siblings went to visit him that last occasion. He was no longer eating or drinking and we were told at that point it was just a matter of time. Therefore, it was no surprise when, a few days later, my stepmother called early one morning to tell me he had died. It was still dark out and the sun wouldn’t rise for another three hours, but I was wide awake, thinking about my father. I recall my husband and I exchanging a few brief words about whether or not I should call my siblings—he said to wait until later—and eventually I fell back asleep.
|Daisies in my garden.
I awoke twice that cold January morning before sunup. The first time was not too long after the call. I dreamed that my father was standing at my bedside, and he reached over and touched my ribcage. I felt that touch. It startled me awake. As I lay there, thinking how vivid that dream seemed, I wondered if it came about because of the phone call, probably mixing with memories of the TV show Pushing Daisies. Suddenly, my dog barked, jumped up from her corner, leaped onto our bed, ran across it, jumped off, raced around the room, then finally settled down. Mind you, my dog going crazy was within seconds of my waking up from the dream—and she had never done anything like this before. Ever.
Okay, creepy, but easy to justify, right?
When I startled awake, it simply caught my dog by surprise. Simple. We must have woken each other. I waited for my heartbeat to slow and I fell asleep again. A couple of hours later, I hear my cell phone ringing in the living room. I have no idea who would call my cell phone at that hour, but I trudge out there to answer it. It’s my mother, calling out of the blue, at 5:30 AM. (If you knew my mother, you would know that this is not normal.) She figured I’d be on my way to work, sorry to wake me. I tell her my father died, so I am not going to work. She tells me she’s sorry to hear it. We have a brief discussion, probably about funerals, notifying siblings, that sort of thing, but it was a few minutes long, and I go back to bed.
My husband is awake this time, I assume from hearing the phone ring,
so I tell him about my dream and how the dog went ape right after. I explain how vivid it all seemed. He tells me “not to push this woo-woo thing further” but our youngest daughter just woke him. She brought a music box into our bedroom, because it started playing by itself
. He told her to put it on the dresser and go back to bed. I look over at the music box, which is one of four the twins have on a shelf several feet above their little beds
. Each is a different bird, and each plays a different song. Sparrow, cardinal, bluebird and robin. Is it a coincidence that my namesake, the robin,
was playing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” on its own? My daughter would’ve had to stand on the bed to get it down to bring to our room. What caused it to play on its own?
|Alice in Wonderland.
“I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do…” (Bonus points if you can guess where that quote came from!) Some time after, I told this story to a few friends, only to discover that they’ve experienced similar ghostly phenomena after the death of someone close. It’s just not a thing they talked about—perhaps, because, unlike Lewis Carroll’s Tea Party, where all the best people are “bonkers,” not everyone wants to admit they might have had a close encounter. But since I know I’m bonkers (just ask my kids), I’m not afraid to admit anything!
How about you, Rogue Readers? Do you believe in ghosts? I’d love to hear your stories.
Very interesting story, Robin — I haven't "seen" a ghost, but I do believe in premonitions – which some call ESP. I've "sensed" when something will or just has gone wrong…and I know for a fact that our identical twin granddaughters sense when something happens to the other one (You must see that in your own family). Also, you wrote about your dog jumping up and running around — now we all know that dogs have a 6th…or 7th or 8th…sense – way more than we can detect. I guess we should all pay special attention to our pups – right? Thanks for a thought-provoking post.
While I can't say that I actually "saw" a ghost, the surreal experience was enough to imprint it into my memory, even to this day. And we do know about dogs sensing things that we often don't. (BTW, what fun to have identical twin granddaughters! There were definitely times that my own girls sensed something happening to the other. The twin bond is amazing.)
The quote is from The Wizard of Oz!!
Loved your post, Robin! I'm sure it was your dad, saying his good-byes. I've felt my late mother's presence many times in the over 14 years she's been gone. I've also seen someone I loved very much after his death. The day this man had happen what led to his death, I had a massive, sudden migraine (the kind that makes you look up, expecting to see that your head has exploded because the pain was so bad,) & felt my mom's arms around me. I knew something bad was wrong, I was just unsure what it was. Made some phone calls to be sure my daughter & her family were all okay, because I felt so strongly that someone I loved was dying or had died. I became very ill, had to be taken to the doctor and became worse the next day when he died. I found out it was him that night. I've felt his presence many times and I don't find any of those experiences disturbing. Mom taught me we have nothing to fear from the dead, it's the living we have to worry about. I can still hear her saying it to me and come from a long line of women who are more than a bit uncanny. I think these things happen to many, but are often passed off as imagination, dreams, etc.
ha! You win bonus points!
Kay, I'm so glad my post resonated with you. And I love what your mom said. So true. Nothing to fear from the dead. Your mother was a wise woman!
One of my favorite stories about visitations from the other side happened to my 4-year-old grandson, whose mother – my daughter – had been finding pennies in the most unexpected places after my mother died. She would walk down a street, glance over at a window or a car or a person, and find ahead of her on the sidewalk where it had been empty moments ago, a penny. She had that happen on restaurant tables, on shop counters, any number of unexpected places, where there had been no coins, much less pennies. Then when my grandson was about three, he started finding pennies. By the time he was four, he complained, "Why doesn't great grandma leave dimes?" It was the beginning of an interesting and wonderful conversation about the difference between money and love, and that one didn't depend on the other. Thank you for a truly wonderful post, Robin. I know your dad is looking down on you from heaven.
Okay, the music box playing on its own was beyond creepy! And that it was the one with "Somewhere over the rainbow" nails its place in the world of strange phenomenon. Great post and thanks for the perfect Halloween story!
This is an OMG moment. One of those instances I didn't mention was my girlfriend, whose husband died, and she found a penny in an otherwise empty drawer, the year from when he was born, if I recall. But what made it particularly memorable and beyond coincidence, was that her grandson, about 3-4, was in the room with her and said something about seeing his grandfather there at that moment she found it.
I so agree! Everything else could easily have been explained. And not just "Somewhere over the rainbow" but a "robin" no less!
Once my mother said my grandmother woke her, but I forget if she heard anything. We found out later that day that grandma was very sick, but she recovered and lived several more years. She had a strange dream or two that revealed oddities. I've never had any such things happen to me, so I guess I didn't inherit any psychic ability.
It really does make you wonder, doesn't it, Norma? I've heard of out-of-body experiences in grave situations, especially from a serious illness or severe accident. I wonder if that was what happened with your mother and grandmother?
Great story. I so believe!
Glad you enjoyed it!