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Bad Parenting Moments: Ghost Stories

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ghost Stories

My grandmother's home was filled with ghosts. She had sand dollars that never stopped producing sand even after years on display. She had a statue of Saint Francis that shattered during an earthquake. Only Saint Francis was harmed. The animals remained intact. Ever protected by their loving guardian, even in white porcelain form. She heard lions roaring inside The Colosseum. She once smelled her grandfather's pipe tobacco in the dark hallway of a museum when walking alone.

She read palms at parties, but, one day after seeing the faded lines of a stranger's hand, she refused to proceed. She never agreed to serve as the palm reader at a function again. She didn't have to say more than, "Sometimes, there is too much darkness."

She had a set of Tarot cards that smelled of cedar. I would often look at the pictures on the cards. Fascinated by the colors. Fascinated with my young, tingling thoughts of beautiful pictures holding knowledge of a life not yet lived.

Right before her death, she called and asked to spend some time in our home with her great-grandchildren. She spent the day telling us stories, holding the children on her knee. She was creating memories. Not the memories of our childhood. She wanted them to be based in our adult present. Less of the childhood ghosts and more of our small children on her lap. That day, she gave me the Tarot cards. In a small, plastic Ziploc bag; still smelling of cedar.

When I am at a crossroads, I pull them off of the shelf where they sit tucked behind board games. I hold them in my hands and think of her. I stare at my palms searching for secrets. I count the cards wondering if I sit still enough, and for long enough, maybe I will find the scent of  my own grandfather's pipe tobacco.

I wait to hear the roars of lions while surrounded by the roars of children. I have none of her foresight. I can not see what may be.

But, she is here. In the strangest of times, I will smell the lilac in candles or on the rag of a mother cleaning her counters and think of her. When my daughter is painting, I see a look on her face that is so much my grandmother that it leaves me breathless. In her paintings hanging on my walls, I drink in the colors deeply, wondering how much of her is in the brushstrokes, peering over the breakfast table, watching the children eat scrambled eggs.

My grandmother's mother was a bird lover. My mother swears that when each of us was born, a beautiful, rare bird would come to visit the babies. Once, a crane. Once, a cardinal that inspected my sister with such care that my mother wept.

When we moved to Vermont, a blue jay came to my windowsill and stared in to our kitchen. For what seemed like a lifetime, I stood silent. Staring. Waiting for one of us to flinch. After watching my frozen body at the sink and inspecting the children with head tilted, the blue jay flew away. To this day, I wonder. Bouncing between acknowledging the ludicrous idea and wanting so desperately to embrace it as truth.

The magic in our ghosts. The ones that reside in only our memories. The ones that reside in stories, making them real. Tangible.

I tell these stories looking for belief. I've heard more often than not, "I don't believe in ghosts."  I'm not sure if I do either, but, I believe in telling ghost stories.

I tell them softly and often because when I do, lilac becomes my grandmother. Beautiful birds, my great-grandmother. Pipe tobacco, the smell of a loving father and grandfather. Tarot cards, the mark of a great decision. Stories, the memory of our ghosts.

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At January 23, 2013 at 2:21 PM , Anonymous frodofailed@gmail.com said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

At January 23, 2013 at 2:25 PM , Blogger RobynHTV said...

I gave my oldest daughter my grandmother's name, but it's the baby who has her eyes when she laughs. I love finding ghosts in flowers, in birds, in the shape of an eye.

This post is unbelievably beautiful. You have a gift, and your words will be the tarot cards of your children. xo

At January 23, 2013 at 2:29 PM , Blogger Jenn, Pint-sized Pioneering said...

Those who love us never leave us.

At January 23, 2013 at 2:49 PM , Anonymous realmomofnj said...

That was really nice. I admit I was expecting a punchline, or a scare, or some trick, and it was nice that there was none. It was just a lovely story, no jokes or snark. Well done.

At January 23, 2013 at 3:13 PM , Blogger katcunha13 said...

Thank you for this. I miss my grandmother, I miss her every single day, and I have for the past 24 years. This is beautiful. *cry*

At January 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM , Blogger Barbara R-G said...

Truly touching.
Me like you words big much! Keep with more.
Robyn, above, really said it best: "your words will be the tarot cards of your children."

At January 23, 2013 at 3:47 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

You really can paint a picture. Beautiful!

At January 23, 2013 at 5:45 PM , Blogger fishducky said...

My grandmother's been gone over 50 years, but when I look at her ring, which I now wear, she's with me!!

At January 23, 2013 at 9:27 PM , Blogger Nicole Leigh Shaw said...

You're a sly one, funny girl, disarming us with giggles and then laying on the sensitive humanity. I can't tell you how much I love both this piece and your skill.

At January 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM , Anonymous Leanne said...

Gorgeously written. I was there. I can smell the pipe.

At January 24, 2013 at 7:06 AM , Blogger Janine Huldie said...

I totally believe and have had my own experiences in my life that I can say to that something after life does exist. I am not sure to what extent, but do believe. thanks for sharing this.

At January 24, 2013 at 3:22 PM , Blogger Keesha said...

Once, a cardinal that inspected my sister with such care that my mother wept.
What a sentence. And there are so many more like it.
As Leanne said above - this was gorgeously written. Can I come to your house now and feel them :-) ?

At January 24, 2013 at 4:14 PM , Blogger McKenna said...

This post is gorgeous. Love when you write like this.

At January 24, 2013 at 4:58 PM , Blogger According to Mags... said...

This took my breath away. Beautiful.

At January 24, 2013 at 9:12 PM , Anonymous JD Bailey @ Honest Mom said...

Wow. Just, wow. Lovely. So gorgeously written. And it made me think about my father and the ghosts he left behind. (In a good way.)

At January 25, 2013 at 1:49 AM , Blogger TNMom said...

Fantastic! So beautiful.....speachless. :) <3 Devan

At January 25, 2013 at 9:17 AM , Anonymous Missy Snow said...

I love this. I bought my first house as a single woman just 25 days after my grandfather died. Whenever I was working particularly outside, I always felt like someone was watching me, there was always a little shadow just out of eye sight. Well when I moved in with Jim (my now husband) we were putting the last of my stuff in his garage and I went upstairs to make us food or something and he comes up and says to me "did you have a ghost at your house?" I had never told him the story about my watchful shadow but I know Gramp came along to check things out. <3 Crap! now I have tears in my eyes. Thanks for the remembory.

At January 25, 2013 at 6:04 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

So very beautiful! After my grandfather died, a small brown moth visited us on important occasions. I just know it was him.

At January 26, 2013 at 1:29 AM , Blogger Blissfull Becca said...

Love your blog. Nominated you for the Leibster Award!

At January 26, 2013 at 4:09 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Love this <3

At January 27, 2013 at 3:05 AM , Anonymous Irene said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

At January 27, 2013 at 11:27 PM , Blogger Marianne said...

I love this & love a good ghost/spirit visit. Totally believe in the stuff, very well-written!

At January 31, 2013 at 6:09 AM , Anonymous psychic tarot card reading said...

Tarot cards are really very useful to make a decision. They help us in choosing the right path or making the right decision. A great story has also described here. It is so much terrible.

At February 1, 2013 at 2:26 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Hi! For what it's worth, I featured this post here: http://www.bigaandlittlea.com/2013/02/what-i-have-been-reading-this-week-22.html :)


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