My father's sister, Melody, died when both she and my dad were very young. He was 10, and she was 5. Our hometown is on the coast of North Carolina, and a tropical storm had rolled through the night before. She had crawled into bed with my dad, holding her Raggedy Andy doll. She told my dad that if he was scared, not to worry - Raggedy Andy would protect him. Dad thought it was cute, because he was the big brother, that was his job.
When my dad woke up in the morning, he found her Raggedy Andy doll, but not Melody. As it turns out, she woke up earlier than the household, and went out to the garage to ride her little bicycle - she was almost ready to have the training wheels taken off. But since her bicycle had been put up because of the storm, she got on my dad's big bicycle, instead. She was playing around on the bicycle in the doorway of the garage when a beam that had been dislodged by the storm fell on her, breaking her neck and killing her instantly. I'm not sure who found her, but I think it was my grandfather. My dad never forgave himself, and his parents were absolutely shattered. The effects of Melody's death are still very visible in the family structure today, over 50 years later.
After Melody died, but before the funeral, my dad locked himself in his room and wouldn't come out for days. At some point during that few day period, Melody's ghost came back (and I don't know that she ever left). The first time my dad interacted with her as a ghost was in that first few days. The first time, he was sleeping and woke up to the sound of a marble rolling around under his bed. He heard it roll across the room, and heard it rolling around there, too. He sat up, and it quickly rolled back under the bed. This happened a few times in a row that night, until finally it got comfortable with him and just rolled around on the floor for awhile instead of going back under the bed again. He's told me that he knew without a doubt that it was his little sister, playing around to cheer him up, and it worked. He came out of his room again, but didn't mention it to his parents.
Melody would feel present to my dad from that point forward, but he didn't actually see her again until he was in his late teens. He and some buddies were going to be heading out to Ocracoke Island the next morning, but he woke up in the night to the sound of his little sister, sobbing beside his bed. He said that he saw her very clearly, standing there by the bed, absolutely distraught, so he sat up and told her it would be OK. She disappeared, and he went back to sleep, thinking little of it. The next day, the guys met up to drive out to the beach, and not long after getting onto the island, they were run off the road by a bunch of hippies in a VW van. The guys in the VW van made it out without a scratch, but my dad's Cyclone flipped, and was totaled. Dad's head hit the windshield, and he and his buddies were injured, but still walked away alive. He said that right before the car started to flip, he felt Melody with him, and trusted it was going to be OK.
Five years later, my dad met my mom at college, and for him it was love at first sight. For her - well, she had to be won over, lol! They had very little in common, but shared a particular sensitivity to the spirit world, and also found out early on that they had shared the same reoccurring dreams for most of their lives (I'll probably write a post about that at some point in the future).
It was pretty evident early on in their relationship that they were going to get married, and my dad asked my mom to come home with him to meet the family. During their trip, he took her to the family's upholstery shop, which at that time was housed in a two-story building. The shop was downstairs, and upstairs on the second floor was a collection of used furniture, old furniture that no one wanted or that people hadn't been able to pay for, and all of the furniture that was waiting to be reupholstered. I used to go up there sometimes when I was a kid, and it was a very large, open space, very dusty and eerie, with just a few light bulbs hanging here and there from the ceiling. It didn't exactly give me the creeps, but it wasn't a bright and cheery space. Anyway, on my mom's first trip to visit my dad's hometown, he took her up to the second floor of the shop, to show her all of the furniture.
While they're walking around, her attention keeps being pulled to one particular corner. Finally, she turns to my dad and says, "What happened in that corner?" He realized that the corner she was talking about was where a trunk containing all of Melody's toys and clothes had been stored since she died, but didn't tell my mom that. He just took her over to the corner to see what would happen, and stood back. My mom has since told me that she felt an irresistible pull towards the trunk, like she knew if she opened it, she'd find the thing that brought her the most joy. She still didn't know that it belonged to a little dead girl, so when she opened the trunk up to find tiny dresses and play jewelry, she was a little shocked. But she also really wanted something in the bottom of the box. There was a pull to get to the bottom, to a thing she just knew she had to have. She kept digging down, past layers of things, to the very bottom, where she found what she was looking for (without having any clue of what she'd find) - Raggedy Andy. Behind her, my dad wasn't exactly shocked (he'd never admit it, if he was), but afterwards he explained to my mom the significance of that doll, and how it had been Melody's favorite. My mom took it as a sign that Melody approved of her being with dad, and they were married about six months later.
I was born five years after my parents got married, and Melody was around for much of my young life. I am also somewhat sensitive, but it seems to me that I was more in tune when I was younger, and I've grown out of it for the most part. In many ways, I think that being anxious and overwhelmed made me put up a lot of barriers, and I'm happy to keep them up to avoid feeling ill. But I blame that on the two ghosts that were in my house when I was a kid. For now, I'll stick with Melody, who it appears was stuck to me for much of my childhood.
For my parents' early marriage, they lived in a cottage that had been my grandparent's little vacation home, about 45 minutes away from my dad's (and my) hometown. It was a place where Melody had spent quite a lot of time in her short life, where the little purple flowers that she'd planted still grew in the front garden. From time to time after my parents got married, my mom swore she could sometimes feel a little girl's presence in the house, or hear little footsteps running down the hall. She's unflappable, my mom, so this all seemed sweet and cozy to her. After they got pregnant with me, they didn't think they could live in such a tiny home anymore, and also wanted to be closer to the hospital in case of medical emergencies, so they began building a house that would be finished around the time I turned three. My earliest memories are all from the cottage, and one of them is of playing with a little blond girl that seemed to be my good friend. I've asked my mom if there were any other children nearby, and apparently everyone else in the neighborhood was my grandparents' age and older. I was the only child, and that my mom was aware of, I was only ever playing by myself, because she wasn't the type of mom to arrange play dates.
When I was born, all of the family gave me toys. I was the first grandchild, and the first girl in the family after Melody (my grandparents had gone on to have two more boys after Melody's passing). I was spoiled rotten, and it helped in the healing process, I think. My grandfather and I were particularly close. He was the very best grandfather imaginable, and now that I'm grown, I can see the little ways that he took care of me with such sweetness and care. Anyway, out of all of the toys, my very favorite was Raggedy Andy. I had both Ann and Andy, but Ann sat on the bookshelf, and Andy went everywhere with me. Years later, Ann looked basically brand new, and Andy lived up to his raggedy name. I didn't find out about Melody's love for Andy until I was much older, and for that I'm grateful to my parents. I think that they were interested in my preference, but wanted to leave it up to me instead of blaming ghostly interference.
Not long after we had finally moved over into the new house, one afternoon while I was napping, Mom was outside doing yard work in the patch of lawn just under my window (coincidentally where my dad had replanted those little purple flowers that originally grew at the cottage). She heard giggling coming from my room, but it wasn't my voice. It was an older girl. Mom has said that she took this to be a good sign, that Melody had moved with us and was watching over me.
The older I got, the more creeped out I started to get in the new house. Part of it was probably just the way my physical symptoms of sensitivity changed as I aged (for me, walking into a haunted place without shielding feels like the first moments of a panic attack - tightness in my chest, paired with a weird brain fuzz). My mom attracts things to her, as well, so the older I get, the more I wonder if she was accidentally bringing people home with her. She also collects dolls, so we had all those little spirit boxes just sitting around, being creepy. Also, there was Major Marsh, our other ghost, invited in by my dad. I eventually got the courage to ask "everyone" in the house that I couldn't see to please leave me alone unless requested, which did help somewhat. But after that, I never interacted with Melody again. As far as I'm concerned, my aunt is the most polite member of my family.
My dad did, though. A couple of years ago, he lost a leg due to complications from previously undetected Diabetes. He dropped a box on his foot, and because he'd lost some feeling and didn't realize it, the cut became infected and he didn't notice until it was too late. The infection spread rapidly, there were further complications, and there was actually some concern that he might not live. While he was in the hospital, Melody came and smiled at him. He said he knew he'd be OK after that.