Let me begin this story by telling you that I have always believed in the presence of ghosts and spirits in this world. The belief in such things was passed on to me by my dear Grandmother, Loretta Johnson, who received her belief from her Grandmother who grew up in Romania decades ago.
I accompanied my Father to a family reunion during the month of June, 1998. The reunion was of my Father's former foster family (who raised him from infancy to age seven) of Randall, MN. On the way to Randall, my Father, his wife and I stopped at the Darling Cemetery to visit the grave of one of my Father's former Uncles who had recently passed away. We pulled off of the highway and drove up the reddish dirt driveway to an area beside the former Darling Episcopal Church and just before the white gates that led the way to the cemetery.
The day was warm for June, very sunny and breezy. It was the sort of day that warmed the soul in such a way to keep away any dark thoughts of winter. As we piled out of the car I noticed the beautiful white iron gate archway that read "Darling Cemetery." I asked my Father if I could use his camera to capture the gate, the cemetery and the church beyond; it was very picturesque. He gave me his camera to snap the photo, and continued with his wife into the cemetery in search of his Uncle's grave site. After taking the photo, I walked slowly through the gate, taking in the various head stones along the path, those that lay nestled under ancient fir trees, and that were beside the church. I wandered beneath the fir trees to peer at the old headstones and grave markers. Many were perfectly white and covered with moss. They were so beautiful that I felt compelled to take a photo of one of them. After snapping the photo I walked amongst the graves saying to myself, and to any spirits that may be present, "Please bless me." After saying that I felt a panic and decided to hurry to where my Father and his wife were standing, at the far end of the cemetery, near the freeway. I passed a Pastor's stone that had a large planter beside it. I looked back at the stone and saw an immense black snake curing and coiling on top of the stone. Any of you will remember from church that the serpent as the sign of Satan. I do not believe that that was what this serpent represented, but it scared the daylights out of me, anyway, as I am terrified of snakes. I shrieked and ran to where my Father and his wife were standing. After taking in my Father's Uncle's stone we made our way from the cemetery to the car and drove on to the reunion.
The reunion was very emotional for me as I was meeting many of the people who were part of my Father's childhood, many who had not seen him since he was a small boy. After the reunion my Father, his wife and I drove back to St. Paul where they dropped me off at my house.
I was physically and emotionally tired after being at the reunion all day. My gray cat Rio began meowing the instant I walked in the door. (She is deaf and meows quite LOUDLY now). I assumed that she was scolding me for being away so long, so I immediately walked into the living room to greet her. She was standing on our marble end table when I reached to pick her up. As I extended my arms she looked at me and an expression of terror clouded her face. It seemed she was afraid of me, as if she did not know me. She immediately fell off of the end table and landed in the space between the couch and end table. I was so shocked by her expression that I screamed her name, "Rio!!" Thinking that she was having a seizure (as I have never seen her fall off of anything except when experiencing a seizure) I ran around the couch to comfort her. Rio then ran at breakneck speed, which is difficult for an older car, around the couch to get away from me. She cornered the loveseat so quickly that she kind of slammed into the landing of the stairs. She ran around through the dining room, skidded across the linoleum in the kitchen, then practically FELL down the basement stairs. I ran after her and found her cowering in our basement room, located just off of the stair case. I have never seen my cat react like this in all her 14 years of life.
Rio was heaving her breaths from such an outburst of energy. I instantly picked her up and held her against my chest. I was crying as I picked her up because I couldn't understand what was wrong and because I'd had a long and emotionally taxing day. I examined her to see if she was seizing, which she was not, then concluded that some unknown thing had frightened her in the living room. "A ghost?" I thought, then put the idea out of my mind. I carried Rio back into the living room and sat on the couch (opposite end from the incident) with her against my chest. She was wild: breathing rapidly, heart pounding, eyes wide. I could not calm her down by petting her and she would not purr. Finally, after trying to calm her for 10 minutes, I let her go. She bolted off of the couch and ran upstairs to my bedroom and would not return to the living room no matter what I did.
For two weeks my cat avoided the living room. This was highly unlike her as in the evenings she INSISTS on sitting with me to the point that she follows me throughout the house until I sit down and allow her climb into my lap. Once I brought her down from my room and sat with her on the couch. She became agitated and once released bolted back upstairs. Occasionally she would come down the stairs, just to the bannister, and look into the living room, staring at the spot where she had been sitting the day I returned from the family reunion. I must add that I was never aware of their being a ghost present in my living room. The ghost never moved from the living room and never moved things about in my presence. There were no phantom noises in the night and no breathing down my neck as I've read in others' stories. There was only a cool spot on the floor in the corner where my loveseat and couch met.
After two weeks of my cat refusing to enter the living room I decided that I must ask the ghost to leave. One night while I was watching "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" I lit a candle and proceeded to reason with the ghost. I told it that there were innumerable things it could be doing with it's afterlife rather than haunting a corner of my living room and making my cat feel uneasy in her home. I told the ghost, "Go to the light. You can't imagine how wonderful it will be once you do. And, it will be far more entertaining than watching me watch late night television." Everything I told the ghost I believed, and I told the ghost honestly and from my heart that I thought it should leave if only to allow my cat to be comfortable in the living room again. There was no sign that the ghost had passed but there was an incredible sense of relief in my heart for the ghost who I believe was a man. The next day, my cat returned to her sedentary life in the living room as though nothing had scared her.
Thank you for listening. It may have been sort of lame, but that is my ghost story. And, frankly, if anything else had happened I would never have been able to handle it. I can't even watch "Sightings" when I'm the only one at home.