Friday, December 3, 2010

Ghost Stories

I knew this was going to happen.  I don't know if it's writer's block, but I have started two blogs this week and haven't been able to finish.  Some days there are so many thoughts swirling around my head that I don't know where to begin.  It's a smogasbord  of random thoughts.  I really need a friend, someone to vent to or just tell all these random thoughts.  But alas, I guess starting and not finishing blogs will have to do for now.  

So this blog is going to be a little on the heavy side.  I find it easier to open up when I'm writing.  It's a good thing I type fast because I have a lot of thoughts for this blog.  Lately I have really been missing some people in my life.  

First is my grandmother.  I swear, I never believed in ghosts until after she died.  I know with all of my being that she is near me.  I have had two experiences that confirm that for me.  The first happened right after Brenna was born.  She had only been gone a few years then, and I missed everyone in my family, since I was up in Alaska by myself with Chip.  It was a rough first month, and I can remember truly missing my grandmother.  I had hoped she'd get to see my children, play with them as she had with me, and teach them all the silly songs she'd taught us as kids.  I missed her so much the first few months after I had Brenna, and I guess I can't really explain why.  One night, I awoke to something.  I'm not sure if it was a sound, or a feeling, but I awoke, startled.  Chip was asleep, Brenna was (finally) asleep, but I had woken up for some reason.  Not finding anything out of the ordinary, I laid back down.  And then it hit me - the scent of my grandmother's perfume.  I hadn't smelled it in years, but it was so distinctive.  It was so strong, that I got up to try and find the source.  No luck.  I didn't have anything of hers that had a scent on it, just a picture or two.  I remember thinking, "Do you see her, grandma?  Isn't she beautiful?"  And then I passed right out, and slept soundly.  

The second incident happened here.  When we first got all of our stuff, I took out a framed picture I have of my grandmother and I in her clown makeup.  She used to work with the kids at the Catholic school, and one of the things she liked to do with them is dress up like a clown.  She had a wig, and all the makeup.  When I was home for Christmas in 2004 when Chip was deployed, my aunt had two pictures framed in one frame; one of my grandmother in full clown getup and one with me in the same thing.  When I unwrapped the frame when we got here, the glass was cracked down the middle.  It was not going to be an easy fix, since the frame was specially made; it was going to have to go to a frame shop and thus was going to have to wait.  I put it up in our closet, waiting for some extra money to fix it.  That was over a year ago.  Last month, I was cleaning out my closet for no particular reason other than it was driving me nuts having so much junk in there.  I picked up the frame, a little heartbroken that it still wasn't fixed.  But when I picked it up and looked at it, the glass was fine!  I asked my husband about it and he swears he didn't have it fixed (and with the amount of dust on it, I believe him."  It's now hanging in my living room.  

My grandmother was more than just a grandmother to me.  I lived with her and my grandfather for several years before she started getting sick.  I always wish I'd been there to say goodbye, but I know that she was gone before her body finally died.  I don't know if this is real or not, but I believe that when someone dies, their spirit looks down on you and knows the things you do and the things you say, if that makes any sense.  So even though I didn't get to say it to her, I know she knows I love her and I know she can see me now and all of my kids.  I just wish they'd gotten to know her.  To sit at her feet and hear her play the piano and sing.  Or to sit and hear her play the church organ.  I wish she could read them Cinderella like she did with me.  I look at all of my cousins and the 20+ great-grandchildren she would have so enjoyed doting on and playing with.  I know she can see us all, but it's not the same.  I just miss her.  Some days more than others. But I love seeing her smiling in her clown makeup every day!

The other person I really miss is my good friend Archie.  Most of you know, in high school I was a peer counselor, and worked closely with Archie for the whole 4 years of high school.  He became a surrogate grandfather to me, and I know I was special to him as well.  When he died last year, it was the first time I'd lost someone that close to me since my grandmother died.  I was heartbroken.  He could have met my kids, but we just never made it home.  I was lucky that I was able to visit with him a few months before he died.  And about a month before he got sick, I kept thinking, "I need to call him."  And I never got around to it.  I can't tell you how many times I've kicked myself for that.  I guess the thing with Archie is, he believed in me.  Not because he had to, but because he could see the me that I always wanted to be and encouraged me to find that person in me.  He always told me how proud he was of me.  I miss hearing that.  I really hope that everyone has at least one person in their life that tells them they're proud of them.  It's important to hear that.  I didn't really realize that until he was gone.  No matter what I did - and I made some pretty bad decisions that affected him and one of his ministries - he still would tell me that he was proud of me and he loved me.  When I didn't think I could face the world after some big mistakes, he stood by me, and didn't judge me, he just loved me.  Archie was an incredible man.  Even now, when I have a decision to make, I think, what would Archie say about this?  Sort of like, WWJD....but on a less official scale.  The first anniversary of his death came and went, but I honestly think about him daily.  

Another ghost story for you, before I sign off.  When I was working with Archie in high school, my aunt and uncle that I lived with had an old VW Rabbit convertible, like an '80 or '81.  When we had it, it was white.  When they decided to sell it, Archie was chomping at the bit to buy it from my aunt.  After he bought it, he painted it candy apple red and it look amazing.  (It always made me wonder why WE never painted it.)  A few weeks ago, I was coming home from somewhere, and it's winter in Washington, so it's been raining for what seems like forever.  But on this day, on the way home, I saw a patch of blue sky.  I turned to look into the sun (Hello, vitamin D!) and as I did, a little read VW Rabbit - Candy apple RED! - zoomed past me.  I smiled.   Hi, Archie.  

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