From the other Side
Brandy Stark, May 2016
Family: a unit bound by blood, love, and sometimes even spirit. Though the paranormal field often depicts ghosts trapped in houses, or dark forces bent on destroying the living, the reality of it is that many of the supernatural phenomena reported is that of departed family members. Visits from these supernatural relatives can range from simple goodbyes and final farewell messages, to mischievous reminders that they are still around. In the paranormal field, I have come across several people who so desired contact from a deceased loved one that they sought it out. Some left the investigations in disappointment.
It is hard to say why family members may appear to some but not to others. Yet, familiar visits are the stories most often told to me. Women seem to be most often reported: mothers and grandmothers are often about marked by bursts of aromas including perfumes and cooking spices. Fathers and grandfathers are not far behind in ghostly manifestation. I get stories of cigarettes, cigars, and pipe smoke along with cologne announcing their presences.
Though I have done many investigations, there are three times that family visited me. These are the intimate and detailed visits that I remember first and foremost, over any paranormal investigation case that I have experienced.
My first encounter was with Louise, a woman I regarded as my grandmother. Though not related by blood, she was a valued family friend. She was widowed and had no children of her own; my biological grandparents had passed away when I was young. One thing we both enjoyed was education. She was so happy for my graduation with my first graduate degree – she loved discussing the subject of religion. One night, she confided in me that sometimes she felt a little afraid that everything she believed might not be right. I was young and really had no answers for her. Luckily, she had one for me.
Just 14 days after I had walked the stage for my Master of Art diploma, Louise died. I had visited with her earlier that day. Depressed and agitated, I had a hard time getting to sleep. When I did drift off, I was awakened by a wonderful and unearthly aroma. My mind called it “ambrosia” and it was a mixture of cookies, chocolate, and flowers. I had a sensation of perfect calmness, one that I have never felt since and that is hard to describe. My mind’s eye briefly saw a blue-white light and I had three thoughts: It’s Louise, it was okay, and to check the time. And then it was over. The aroma vanished and I fell back to sleep. The next morning when my mother came to give me the news, I already knew that she had died, and when she passed. It was Louise’s visit that helped me take my interest in the supernatural to the next level and a few months later, I formed my first paranormal group.
Louise did appear three times in my dreams. Each dream felt different – as if I were awake. I was in my bedroom, but it was juxtaposed with the hospice room that Louise was in the last time I saw her. The third dream was the most memorable. Louise was reclining in her bed next to a window. The vertical blinds were drawn shut. I walked from my part of the room to hers, where she handed me a green and gold tea cup. She smiled and then started to say, “good-bye” and “bye-bye” over and over again. I woke with a start in my own bed. My bed faced the window where Louise was in the dream. The second I woke up, the vertical blinds slammed back and there was a huge crashing sound. It was as if the blinds had been sucked back into the pane. As I watched the blinds resume their former relaxed position, I looked about for the tea cup. The dream had seemed so real. There was no cup present, though the green and gold meant one thing to me: my new alma mater, like Louise’s, was the University of South Florida. Louise had been a member of the first graduating class in 1964. I graduated with the class of 2000. We often talked about what I was learning at USF over tea and dessert. She was reminding me that the memory of those discussions would remain with me, long after she was gone. I never had another dream with her in it again.
A few years later, the second instance happened. I had a paranormal investigation set up and two members of my team came to meet me at my mother’s house to form a carpool. While there, one woman, a sensitive, began to describe a male presence in the house. He was a big, with reddish hair and a thick beard. He was a prankster, boisterous, and related to my mother. But she came up with the wrong name and I wasn’t sure who it was. It was a few minutes later, when the other woman began to feel a bit warm, that I realized who she meant. A visitor in the house, I did not feel comfortable turning the air conditioner down. Instead, I reached up to turn on a ceiling fan. As my hand came close to the pull cord to turn it on, the fan started to spin. I had not touched it. We stared at it for a moment and that was when I realized that the description fit my estranged uncle. Phenomena stopped after that and I put it out of my mind for the investigation. That night, as I sat down at the computer to type up my report notes, I felt compelled to do an internet search. I stopped typing my notes mid-sentence and logged on to the internet. A search of his name found an obituary in a small paper – he had died the week before. No one had told us, and I was the one to break the news to my family later that night.
This is the fan that turned on by itself, just after the event. I’m the one in yellow, fellow investigator, Sandy, is seated. Photo by Denise. Circa 2002.
The third time for a visit was in 2012, the year my father passed away. My parents divorced when I was two, but they remained friendly. Yet, he was an odd man. Over the years, I learned that I have his temperament as well as his analytical mind. This allowed us some grounds of commonality; we agreed on Star Trek, science fiction, and even pulp writing. He was, though, agnostic in his beliefs. We differed on politics and life viewpoints.
In his later years, we forged stronger lines of communication, though he always remained a bit of an enigma to me. After he was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma, I went up to visit him. We had a good visit, discussing many topics. Much to my surprise, he told me of an experience that his mother had when his father (my grandfather) died. He agreed to let me record it; I present it here for you to listen to:
He passed away a few weeks later under hospice care. While not unexpected, his end had come much faster than I had anticipated. Dad may have been dead, but he wasn’t done. He managed three visits that I was able to document. The first time was a few weeks after he passed away. He seems to identify with my mother and me as his family; the first two times we were talking with each other about him. The first was while watching a DVD of Perry Mason, a show that my mother loved. We had discussed that Mom, Dad, and I all had affection for pulps – Perry Mason was a series of novels, I loved The Shadow pulps from the 1930s, and Dad listened to the old Shadow radio shows. At that moment, a figure that I had sitting on my bookshelf jumped forward and hit the ground. It was an action figure that I had from the 1994 movie release of The Shadow. That item had been on the shelf for years and never moved. There were no cars going by, both my mother and I were seated, the pets were sleeping. I picked it up, looked around but could find no cause for it to fall, and put it back. It hasn’t moved since.
The second time was the most notable. I had inherited my father’s car, which was a GM under recall. I was upset because I did not feel safe driving the car until the recalled repairs had been done, yet the dealership claimed no parts available. I had gotten an apology letter, which I had read to my mother on the phone. I scoffed at it as more stress. As we discussed this, I started to move toward another room to pick up some laundry. I placed the letter on the kitchen counter and just as I turned away, I heard a little clink behind me. I paused my conversation on the phone and turned around. Sitting on the cabinet was a little metal car – the car from the old Monopoly game that my parents had. The same game was sitting in my garage, under two boxes, long sealed shut by humidity. My mother, fearing for my safety, wondered if I was home alone. (I was). The counter upon which the car fell had no shelving around it, the game had not been in the house for quite some time, and the pets couldn’t reach that area. I went out to the garage, dug out the game and opened it: the car was missing. I suspect my father was tired of my complaints about his car.
The last visit was a few weeks after that. I was putting away groceries when I heard the clink of metal sliding down the back of the fridge and landing under one of the drawers. I pulled the drawer out and discovered a gold Sacajawea silver dollar. My father and I are descended from Meriweather Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark expedition in which Sacajawea served as guide. I had none of these coins in my possession. I have no explanation for how this happened, but my theory is that my father was telling me to take pride in the value of my heritage. (See image at the top of this page).
And so, there you have my own special family stories. I’d love to hear more from you. Do you have a few supernatural moments with family that you would like to share? If so, please sign in the guest book and let us know!
Story submission, Lisa L-H.
June 2, 2016:
Going on the theme of paranormal family related occurrences I figured I’d mention a personal story. My grandmother died of lung cancer when I was in high school. (Intense smoker) Obviously this was an emotional time but my family was strong. As part of our grieving process we decided a small home renovation was in order. My grandmother had smoked in our house for ten years. We put at least six coats of special paint to remove the smell. Fast forward a year. We had been gone an entire week and upon arriving back home the moment we walked in we saw smoke. Of course we freaked out and started checking all the appliances. We stopped and looked at each other. The smoke had been right in front of her spot on the couch. We walked around the living room and sure enough, smoke smell. It was thick like someone had just blew out a breath of smoke. At first I was in disbelief assuming we had left the air conditioner off and it was tar seeping out. But my mother told me that she had kept the AC on for our cat. Since then this has happened several times. We now consider it a sign to just say ‘hey I’m still here’.
Addendum to original article: 12/11/2017
This happened the first year after he died, too — the first Christmas (7 months after he passed).
Dad used to send me “baubles” (his word) from “the girls” (ugh. But, they call themselves this up there — 40-something year old women who worked as secretaries in my Dad’s department; he kept in touch, even after he retired). It was often Avon jewelry, but it was his way of shopping local and I got that. So, I had this package coming from Amazon. My order arrived and I opened up the box to find this mixed in with my order. The pink angel wings could mean anything, but my house is painted rose on the inside. This would be along the lines of something he’d send me. I called Amazon thinking that this was someone else’s order. They had no order recorded for it. I asked if I should return it. Since there was absolutely no record for this item (an order, missing item, etc.) they told me to keep it.
Now, rationally…..this could be a mistake. The person on the phone could have been wrong. It might have been a mistake from the person who packed the item. Maybe someone at Amazon was giving out gifts like a secret Santa to customers. I have no idea. I do know it’s not happened since. And when I saw it, I had the distinct enough impression that it was a gift from Dad that I’ve not worn it, but kept it in the kitchen where I left his other “gifts” from the prior visits.
In 2017, I did feel Dad a bit more directly. In May, I won my first (and, to date, only) “Best of Show” award for a piece in an art show. That night, I was exhausted. It was an emotionally draining moment for me as I had been an artist for 22 years at that point and have craved this award for that long. I swear that I was walking past the area where I had sensed Dad after he first passed, near some family heirlooms. I felt a cold spot and, for lack of better term, a pat on the back (“good job”!) I’m pretty sure that was him. I also graduated yesterday with my third grad degree. Mom and friends went to the graduation and Mom said that she felt that Dad was there (no pats on the back this time, though).
3/1/2019: My story is now up on “Share Your Scare” via Amazon Prime Streaming. Check it out here: Hey, guys: Check out the “Share your Scare” on Amazon Prime Streaming. My episode is Season 1, Episode 6: “Fatherly Love”. You can find it here: 6. A Father’s Love
A Monopoly car and a gold coin? A deceased father makes an effort to stay in contact with his daughter in some unique and unusual ways. Link: https://www.amazon.com/A-Fathers-Love/dp/B07PB69Q56/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Share+Your+Scare&qid=1551474357&s=gateway&sr=8-2
From our old Guest book:
|My grandmother passed away on Oct. 18, 2007 at the age of 82. My grandfather passed away on Sept. 11, 2013 at the age of 91. They were married for 62 years. I had been thinking about my grandparents a lot as the house I had recently moved into was the same floor plan as theirs and located around the corner on the same lake, same neighborhood, that they lived on for 47 years. I felt I understood their enjoyment of the location and why they decided to live there. One morning, not long after my grandfather had passed, I was lying in bed in a half sleep/half wake sort of state listening to the birds and thinking again about my grandparents and how happy I was living there, when I felt someone sit on the edge of my bed. I thought it was my son creeping in on me, who would have been a mischievous 10 years old at the time. Next thing I know, I felt an unexpected tingling flick of a finger on my forehead. I jolted my head back into my pillow and opened my eyes, all the while talking to my son, who was not there. I then realized it was my grandfather, as over the years he would flick his kids and grandkids on the leg, or arm, or such, to get their attention. My grandmother always told me that if there was a way for her to let me know she was okay on the other side, she would do it. I believe they both were there that morning getting my attention and letting me know that they are okay.|