The following articles and stories featured this week [modem permitting] are based on my personal beliefs. The stories I will write are from my own personal experiences, or those of family members and friends.
Do you believe in ghosts/spirits? I very much believe in ‘spirits.‘ Someone once told me the difference between ghosts and spirits, but to be honest, I can’t remember the details. I believe there are human spirits and nonhuman spirits. I believe human spirits are the spirits of people who have passed on, or are on the brink of passing over to the other side. I believe that nonhuman spirits are the spirits of good and evil. I believe the good spirits that walk this earth are heavenly spirits. Angels.
I believe that evil spirits also walk among us. Demonic spirits. I believe there is a heaven and a hell.
That is as deep as I am going to get into my personal beliefs at this time…
The story I am about to tell is not a ghost story. It is simply, a true story. Told by two of my aunts, who I believe with all of my heart.
This is a story about my aunt, Willow Dean. Dean was quite a surprise to the family, as my grandparents thought their childrearing days were all behind them. Their four daughters were practically grown when Dean came along. She was such a pleasant surprise. Loved by all and spoiled by her older sisters who showered her with things they were not able to have when they were little girls. Barbie dolls were introduced when Dean was a very little girl. Every week, her sisters would cash their hard-earned paychecks from the cotton mill and buy her a new doll or dress. She had beautiful, lacy dresses hanging in her closet. Tap shoes! Oh, how she loved her tap shoes. You could hear her coming a mile away, tapping those black patent leather shoes and singing a favorite tune. You would think that a child that spoiled would be rotten-mean, but everyone says she was an absolute angel and brought joy to everyone’s life. Dean’s life ended too soon when she came down with encephalitis at the age of ten. Papaw said that she woke from her coma and looked at him and smiled. Saying, “Oh, daddy … you should see it. It’s so beautiful there!” Dean peacefully closed her eyes and went to sleep. Never again to awaken. Not only was her family devastated, the entire cotton mill village in which they lived felt the pain of her loss.
Eventually, life must go on and everyone tried tocarry on as best as theycould. My aunts Marie and Christine were on lunch break at the mill one day and went to the bathroom before getting back to work. They were the only ones in the bathroom at the time. Their stalls, side by side. Christine said that she kept hearing a tapping sound that came from the hallway. Then, the tapping got closer to the bathroom. As the sound got closer, she heard humming and singing. It was clearly, Dean’s voice. For the first time since before Dean’s illness, she could hear her voice sing a familiar song they‘d heard her sing a thousand times. Aunt Christine said she held her breath and remained silent as she listened to her tapping and singing fade into the distance until it was quiet again. It was as if she came from the hall, and walked right through the bathroom and exited through the other end. My aunt Christine said that they washed up and walked out of the bathroom and went back to work. She said nothing to Marie because she was still in shock from what had just happened. That night, while walking home, Christine said to Marie, “Today, while we were in the bathroom, I could swear that I heard…” Marie interrupted her, “You heard her too? You heard Dean come into the bathroom, singing?” They were each amazed that the other heard the same thing. One reason being, it proved they were not losing their minds. And another reason being, it confirmed that there really is another side after this life is over. We will see our loved ones again. If we choose to follow the same path they did. Aunt Willow Dean was only ten years old when she passed. Innocence was all she knew. She must be in a better place. My aunts shared this with the rest of the family and everyone was able to let go a little easier and felt a greater peace for Dean.
The above story is not intended to be a ghost story to instill fear. Rather, it is a story of hope and peace. I have a bittersweet smile on my face and a tear in my eye as I type this. Because I believe that my grandmother, who would have been ninety-one years old last Thursday, was with her daughter, Dean, and her other loved ones on that day. Although I miss Mamaw terribly, I know that her spirit is still with us and watches over us from where she is.
The cotton mill has been closed down since about 1979. I took a lot of pictures there over the summer because I know they are tearing it down to build a mall. If any of my relatives or friends from this area reading thiswould like photos, email me and let me know.