Mom’s Phantom Visitor

moms-phantom-visitorBeing that this is Halloween month, it’s time for a ghost story. This is a story that my mom used to tell back before she, too, became a ghost. (Miss you, Mom. And Dad. And Brother. I’m the only member of my original family unit who still doesn’t know what it’s like “on the other side.”)

The little girl woke up to see a man standing in her doorway.

It was dark in her room, and there wasn’t a lot of light from beyond the doorway. All the little girl could see was an outline of the man’s figure. He came forward into the room and spoke her name, and his voice was familiar. It was the voice of her favorite uncle. “How is my little sweetheart?” he asked her.

She rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “Okay,” she told him.

Her uncle came closer, but not too close. “I’m sorry to wake you up, but I wanted to say goodbye. I’m going away for a while, so I’m not going to be able to see you so often.”

“Oh.” The little girl didn’t like that news. He was the one who always brought her candies and new dolls. “Where are you going?”

“On a trip.”

“Are you going to be a long way away?”

“A very long way away. That’s why I woke you up, sweetheart. I wanted to say goodbye before I leave.”

“Okay.” She was just a little girl, and didn’t know what to say. “Goodbye.”

Her uncle seemed to want to come and hug her, but wouldn’t allow himself to. This was odd. He sounded very unhappy, too. “Goodbye my little sweetheart. You take care of your mommy, now. Okay?”

“Okay. Bye-bye.”

“Goodbye. You go back to sleep now.”

“Okay. Goodbye.”

“Goodnight.” Her uncle backed away from her, edging toward the door.

The little girl settled back into her bed, and glanced for a moment at the clock. She could just barely make out the time. It was after 11:00 PM, very late indeed. When she looked back up at the doorway, her uncle was gone.

The little girl went back to sleep.

In the morning, her mother was unusually silent, and spent a lot of time staring off into space. She’d burnt their breakfast eggs. While the little girl was eating, she suddenly remembered her uncle’s late visit. “Mom,” she asked, “where is uncle going?”

Her mother seemed shocked by the question. “What?”

“When he was here last night, he told me he was going away. Where’s he going?”

“Uncle was here? Last night?”

The little girl nodded.

“When?” There was an edge to her mother’s voice.

“It was really late. My clock said after eleven.”

Her mother went pale, and her mouth hung open. It took her a few moments to say anything. “Your uncle loved you very much. I don’t doubt he stopped by here to say goodbye to you.”

“Where’s he going?”

Her mother fumbled with a pack of cigarettes, pulling one out and putting it in her mouth. Her hands were trembling when she lit it. The flame wiggled and she had a hard time keeping it at the tip of the cigarette. “Your uncle went to heaven, honey.”

“Heaven?” The little girl didn’t understand.

“He was killed in a car wreck last night.” Her mother began crying, and so did the little girl. It wasn’t until a few days later, after the funeral, that she overheard her mother telling relatives in a hushed voice about the late night visit from the uncle. The other relatives gaped at the news, astonished, and gave the little girl strange glances. It was then the little girl learned that her uncle had died at about 7:00 PM that fateful evening, while driving home from a restaurant. The person who had come into her room at 11:00 PM could not have been her uncle, unless…

That little girl, as you probably guessed by now, was my mom. She swore up and down that this was true.

I believe her, mainly because of this story (which I was involved in): Nana Arrives in the Mail >

A Ghost Story with Actual Photographic Evidence

As teenagers, my friends and I liked to take our cameras out to spooky places in the middle of the night and take timed exposures. It was just for fun, like a dare, to be out in ruins or graveyards at one in the morning. We never saw a thing, and nothing ever showed up in any of the pictures…

…except this one time.

Jerry's Mystery

This is from a rural cemetery in Lodi, California, a very quiet place next to a small trailer park. When we were actually out at the cemetery taking this picture, neither my friends or I heard or saw anything unusual. I didn’t see any lights or movement around this gravestone, nor did I realize it was leaning to one side. You see, it was dark out there. Really dark. We could barely see anything. I think the shutter on my camera was open for around 40 seconds when this picture was taken.

So what’s weird about it? May I direct your eyes to the strange swirl around the leaning tombstone? That’s what’s weird about it — that and the fact that the stone itself is tilted up onto one edge with nothing underneath it.

Some of my friends where skeptical when I showed this to them, because they knew I could have faked it. It’s true, I could fake it. Easily. I can even tell you how to get this exact effect. The point is, though, that I did not fake this shot. It is real. If I wanted to fake a ghost photo I would do something a lot more dramatic.

After this photo was taken, we went back to the same spot and took more photos. Nothing strange showed up in the second set of photos, nor did anything strange ever show up in any other shots I took at this cemetery.

I don’t know if this mysterious photo is actually a picture of a ghost. I only half-believe in them. Sometimes I do, and sometimes (when I’m in my very rational mind) I don’t. Nevertheless, I can’t explain my strange photo.

But here’s a little ghost story for you…


On one of the subsequent nights when I was out there with my friend Jeannette, taking more pictures in the hopes of capturing another interesting image, I somehow lost the keys to my Subaru Brat. I’d dropped them somewhere, and we looked all over and couldn’t find them.  It was about 1:30 AM and very, very dark — and yes, we were a little spooked.  Fortunately I had a spare key in one of those magnetic boxes clamped to the fender, so we were able to get home okay. The next morning both her and I went  back out there to see if we could find the keys, and I jokingly addressed the spirits, asking them, “If you find my keys, could you put them right here for me?” and patted the corner of a small brick fence.

There was no one else in the graveyard. Jeannette was with me at all times. We searched all over the place, trying to trace our path were we’d been taking pictures the night before. The keys were nowhere to be found. So we gave up, and were walking to the front of the graveyard when I spotted the keys. They were sitting on the corner of the small brick fence, exactly where I’d asked “the spirits” to put them.

Totally freaked out, I grabbed the keys, said a quick thank you to whomever it was that put them there, and Jeannette and I ran like hell back to the car.