Friday, October 17, 2008


An October Moment...

October 14, 2008

We’re doing a little fall cleaning and so our upstairs hallways has become a kind of clearing ground for various items, including a cardboard box full of photographs. They’re a real mish-mosh of pictures, including stuff of all of the kids, images from my own childhood, and a recent influx of older photographs that I had brought back from my parents’ house. The Brownie is utterly fascinated by photos--especially photos that show her parents as children (the idea that we were once her age strikes her as both amusing and impossible, like a real-life optical illusion, and so whenever she passes the box, she stops to take a look).

But the other night, she grabbed a picture that didn't feature either her mother or me and let out a little cry of recognition as she did.

“Hey, that’s our old neighbor!” she exclaimed.

“Who?” I asked, coming down the hall to take a peek.

The Brownie stared and stared. “He used to visit me in the back yard all the time. He always talked to me when I was outside. But he moved away a long time ago, I think. Because I haven't seen him in a long time.”

Then I saw that the Brownie was holding an old black-and-white photo.

This photo, in fact.


“Um, wh- who do you think that is, honey?” I asked, reaching out to take the photo with a trembling hand.

The Brownie gave me a Look. “I told you, Dad,” she said. “He used to talk to me in the back yard. But that was a long time ago, when I was real little. I used to have picnics with my foxes and he would come and talk to me. He sometimes told me funny stories about you and Uncle BB.”

I sat down on the hallway floor, my face--my head--going numb. The Brownie went through her fox-picnic phase about two years ago, when she was five.

“And you, you remember this?” I asked, though I shouldn’t have questioned her. The Brownie has always had an excellent memory.

“Oh yes,” she said emphatically. “And you remember him too. He was the one who told me about the tree.”

I remembered the tree all right. The big old aspen tree in our side yard. One summer about two years ago, the Brownie came in from having a picnic with her foxes and told me that an old man had told her to go inside or she might get hurt. I thought it was weird—and a little scary--that some strange old man I’d never seen was in our backyard warning my daughter about getting hurt, so I went looking for this guy. I never saw him--no one did, except the Brownie (and I had only been aware of her seeing him the one time, not the multiple times she was now revealing). As you can imagine, it freaked me out. So I kept the Brownie indoors.

And a few days later, that aspen tree, which turned out to have some kind of dry rot or disease that was undetectable, suddenly crashed over in our backyard. Had it happened while the Brownie was under the tree with her foxes, that tree would have crushed her. The mysterious old man had probably saved her life.

I told the story in fuller detail here.

At the time, the Brownie didn’t call the mysterious old man our neighbor. In that way that young kids often accept the impossible, my daughter opined that maybe the old fellow was God. But looking at the picture, I could now identify the Brownie’s mysterious benefactor.

It wasn’t a neighbor.

And it wasn’t God.

It was my grandfather, Papa John. My Dad’s dad.

Who, incidentally, never met the Brownie. That’s because he died in the early 1970s. When I was about five, in fact.

When I informed my daughter of this, she just shrugged. Seven-year-old woman though she is now, she still accepts the impossible with great grace. “Oh. No wonder he knew all those stories about you and Uncle BB," she said.

I had to remind myself to breathe. “Um, do you remember any of the stories he told you, honey?” I asked.

The Brownie shook her head and gave me a look of perfect indignation. “Geez, Dad, that was a long time ago. I can’t remember everything. What do you think I am?”

“Pretty freaking amazing, actually,” I said.

And meant it.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Wow! I was just thinking about the tree falling yesterday. And now we know whom she saw. I guess believing in ghosts isn't magical thinking. Thanks for another cool October Moment, MM.
WOW! Love your October Moments! Keep them coming!
Coincidentally, I found your blog right about the time you told that story of the Brownie and the man who talked to her. Great story, MM.
Wow. That's an amazing story. I wish I could be as open as a child to receive these 'visits'. There are so many people I would love to see again.
wow...she's apparently inherited your 6th sense!
Awesome. More, more, more!
Your October moments never cease to amaze me! Well, until this thought creeps into my head, "hey, I wonder if he's putting us on." Regardless, it's a great story.
Cool October moment as always, MM. This one really gave me the chills.
Oh, excellent! My neighbor's very young daughter laughs and sings with someone my neighbor can't see. Another friend picked up her toddler son and he gazed over her shoulder and asked tragically "But why can't I play with the little girl?" There was no little girl there.

Kids are wise.

October's not over yet. (Hint!)
It's not everyone that has the gifts of the Brownie. I'm glad you are so open and honest with her~ :)
When I was a baby we lived in a house generally believed to be haunted. Apparently I used to wave and giggle and chatter at the corners and no one was there. I wish I could remember that because I bet I had some pretty interesting conversations. I'm glad the Brownie wasn't so little that she can't remember her experiences with ghosts.

What a great story!
This Halloween is shaping up to be the creepiest in recent memory.
Wow...great story.

(I pretty much have to take you at your word on these stories because neither I nor anyone in my family has ever had an experience like this, to my knowledge. Other than you, I've only known one other person whose opinion I respect who has had what could be called "paranormal" experiences.)
The hairs on my arms and standing up and I have goose bumps. There were chills up my spine too.
Another WOW! Fantastic story and so well told. Having a 7-yr-old daughter myself so much of this rang trus.
Great story! Thanks for sharing! Kids are so much more open to these kinds of encounters. I wish we could retain that awareness as we grow older, instead of being so quick to blow it off as a figment of our imagination.
I'm still waiting to read about the encounter with the "witch man" that you referenced in the October Moment wedding story!
("It felt like this when I was 13, and had gone to see the old man who lived in the marsh
(the one they called "the witch man," who had scared me badly by revealing things about me no one else knew")
Oh yeah....we never did learn about that Witch Man!

Another great read, MM. And I was chilled as well. I remember that tree falling incident and wondered who she was talking to! Now we know. Amazing!
The most wonderful thing about going on vacation - which I just did - is coming back and finding a pile of MM that I haven't read yet.

Well, maybe not THE most wonderful thing, but it sure is nice :-)

I've printed them out for leisurely enjoyment. I'll be back with (no-doubt, inane) commentary.
okay, MM--I'm torn between being really creeped out by all these moments, and by feeling jealous that so many of them are family member-related. your deceased kin is more concerned with you and yours than my living immediate family members...

I don't know if all these tales are true, but you do tell so believably that I am having trouble falling asleep at night. no kidding.
Aw, c'mon people! The Witch Man story was told in October 2006. Do a search on "witch man" at the top of the blog. What we really want to know is the advice and guidance his daughter Ruth gave to MM.
MM, I'm sure you're busy, got lots to do, people to see, C.R.A.P. to catalog, but it's getting close to the end of October. Three days, to be exact.

One more? Pleeeeese?
OMG! I was just thinking about the tree not long ago and wondering how y'all are! WOW!!!!
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