I've been an avid reader in this site for about a year since having stumbled upon it but this will be my first time writing to share an experience. I have had several paranormal experiences in my life, though, fortunately, nothing so dramatic or utterly frightening as some that have been shared here. For my first share, I'll tell of three somewhat related experiences from my childhood as all have to do with my maternal grandmother.
In the wee hours of September 29, 1989, my maternal grandfather passed away after a battle with cancer that had spanned over several years. His wife, my grandmother, had lost that same battle only four months earlier. Being quite young, not yet five years old, my understanding of those tragic events was fuzzy at best - I didn't understand the concept of death yet and certainly not as it related to my life or people I loved - in my young mind, my grandmother had simply 'gone away' and I missed her very much. During the four months after losing his wife and before his own passing -he knew he was dying- my grandfather made every effort he could to spend as much time with me as possible. I can still remember having 'eggs in a cup' and rye bread toast with him in the mornings and 'learning to dance' standing on his feet as he danced around the kitchen to an old big band cassette tape - understanding what I do now of the nausea and weakness that comes with the level of chemotherapy he was taking, I understand just how much strength and love it took for him to do those things with me.
The morning of the 29th found me asleep in my bed when I was awoken by the sound of my bedroom door opening. It was my grandmother and grandfather. I was so happy to see my grandmother - I remember jumping out of bed and rushing to hug her so happy she'd come back home. I was crying with happiness and I could see she was crying too... Even my grandfather, always a very stayed individual, had tears in his eyes. I told them not to cry that grandmother was home now. They looked at each other then led me back to bed. I started to grow uneasy that there was something I wasn't understanding. I was still crying and starting to feel like it wasn't from joy anymore. I can't remember their exact words but they told me not to cry, that grandmother had come to get grandfather and they were both going away together. They told me they would never be far away but that they couldn't come home again. They tucked me in, told me they loved me, and left. Eventually, I went back to sleep as it was still very early.
At around 8AM, I got up and went downstairs - usually, I would go into the den that had been converted into a bedroom for my grandparents during their illness to have breakfast with my grandfather. The room was empty. My mother told me he had passed away during the night and been taken away hours before. I couldn't understand -my grandparents had been in my room just that morning- but I didn't know how to explain what had happened to my mother.
I realize now that my grandparents have always been there, just out of sight looking out for me in their way. After their passing, I would often hear them downstairs in the kitchen talking as I would fall asleep at night - again, I was young, 'death' was still a concept that I wasn't quite clear on and, sure, I was afraid of various imaginary boogeymen but the concept of ghosts or a family member being a ghost wasn't at all clear to me. In my youthful innocent perception, my grandparents were just 'there' just as they had said they would be. This went on for several years. Until, one night when I was 8 or 9...not quite so young anymore, I managed to fall out of the bed in my sleep - the fall and subsequent rude awakening left me disoriented, hurting and a bit scared. In my room, there was a table music box that my grandmother used to put me to sleep with when I was a baby, the sound had always calmed and reassured me. The music would only play if you lifted the top of the music box. As I sat there on the floor trying to reorient myself, the box opened and started to play. I was neither calmed nor reassured but instantly terrified. I jumped up and scrambled back into bed where I sat staring at the box before starting to cry. The moment I started to cry, the music stopped. After that, I never heard my grandparents in the kitchen again. I think it was my grandmother who turned on the music box just as she used to in hopes of comforting me - but I wasn't so young anymore, by 8 the concept of death and ghosts had become more concrete. The presence of a spirit was no longer something comforting but something frightening. I think they realized I was afraid and not wanting to scare me, retreated. Still to this day, I wonder what might have happened if I hadn't cried, hadn't been afraid - would they have stayed?
About a year later when I was nearly 10 - I had what I initially thought to be a peculiarly vivid nightmare. In it, I saw a very old house of white clapboard with four white columns on the front - what I would now describe as antebellum neoclassical. I stood about fifteen yards in front of the house on a green lawn. The sky was gray and wind blew in the trees. I seemed to know- as one often just 'knows' things in dreams- that the house had been set up for tours and, because the floors were too damaged by termites to be safe, numbers had been put in the windows so a guide could point to them and explain what the rooms had been. I stood there all alone watching the wind blow the numbers up against the gauzy curtained windows. Suddenly, I heard a rumbling behind me, the ground was shaking - I whirled 'round to see a mounted hunting party, baying dogs running about between the legs of the oncoming horses, bearing directly down on me. At the very last instant, the lead rider saw me, I could see sadness and panic in his eyes because it was too late, the horse reared, and the last thing I knew was the agony of the horse's hoof landing on my chin. I jerked awake screaming, trembling, covered in a cold sweat and weeping - my leg in serious pain, there would be a bruise the next day - never before or since has any dream been so real.
A few days later, I was helping my mom in the attic going through her mother's old trunks filled with heirlooms from her family going back hundreds of years. Those trunks had always held such glamor and mystery to me but I had never seen inside so I was more than eager to have my first look. She passed me an ancient photo album and carefully I began to leaf through when suddenly, I froze, there on the first page were four photos - in each was a man with dogs, a large old house in the background, one photo showed him on horseback - it was all there, the same man, the same dogs, that house... From my nightmare. I asked my mother about them and she explained that was my great grandfather (her mother's father) at his home, one of the plantations he owned in South Carolina where they used to breed the setters in the pictures. It wasn't until a decade later when I was in college idly googling family names trying to see what sort of genealogical information I could dig up on the internet that the true significance of the 'dream' came clear - again, I found a picture of the house, a distant family member unknown to me had posted it... Along with a post script - the date of its demolition... It was the same date as my dream all those years ago.
If you have born with me through all of that, thank you for your patience, and I do apologize, I had not intended to run on so long.