No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It was Thanksgiving weekend 2009, a typical 75 degrees, and I was sitting on the front porch in my pajamas watching a very little Riley and Aidan ride their bikes in the driveway. A man in his early 60s got out of his car and stopped at the edge of our driveway. He explained that he had grown up in the house. Could he come up and speak to me?

Against type, I said sure. He was polite, well dressed and groomed. 

We spoke for probably 30 minutes. He knew everything about the house, including the location of strange knots in the dining room wood paneling that I came to find out were the result of him and his brother shooting each other in the house with BB guns. Side note; we have extensively remodeled and the 1950’s wood paneling is thankfully gone.

I also learned and confirmed later that he had held a top spot at one of our country’s security agencies. I decline to mention which one because I don’t want to disappear in case he ever reads this story. 

Dave was home so I invited him inside to look around. He was excited to walk around and regale us with stories of his childhood. He also answered the mystery of why our entire backyard had been poured with concrete; his parents moved from Minnesota and they refused to believe that grass would be able to grow year round.

As he was leaving, he commented on our majestic orange tree, recalling the juicy sweetness and the miraculous annual abundance of the fruit. I told him to wait a second, ran inside, grabbed a grocery bag and filled it high for him. When I handed him the bag, he had tears in his eyes. He was going to see his mom who was in a home. He was sure this would bring her tremendous joy.

I told him to stop by anytime. I never saw him again.

Last week a letter came hand-addressed to the man in old people’s scribble. Generally I relish throwing out mail addressed to previous owners who should have notified their annuity issuers of their new address 20 years ago. But this was different. For starters, I liked this guy. Also, we had never received anything for him or his family confirming my belief that they were responsible individuals that took care of their shit. 

So I scoured the googler and I was able to figure out his current employer but there wasn’t an email for him. I puzzled out what I thought it would be only to have my email bounce. In a last ditch effort, I asked Dave to check Linked In and see if he could track him down and get an address. Success! Sort of.

Dave and the man have been corresponding all morning and we do have an address to forward the letter to. But the man had a request.

Can he sprinkle his dead mother’s ashes under my orange tree. Record screeches.

For those of you immediately horrified, thank you. For those of you who are sentimental assholes let me paint a picture.

I do not not want to be eating the nutrients of a decrepit old woman when my oranges bloom next fall.

I do not wish to invite a poltergeist into my home.

I do not want to spar with an angry spector as to who is the rightful mistress of this manor.

I’m fairly certain that the return gift for a bag of oranges is not your dead mother. 

I look forward to clearing my name after my impending investigation for some trumped up international conspiracy charges and perhaps an IRS audit. 

A Ghost Story

I’m not a huge proponent of letting the children sleep with us unless they’re very sick. But sometimes it’s hard to resist a shirtless little nugget that appears with his pillow and wants to cuddle up with you to watch Christmas movies. I relented and let him burrow in between us and fall asleep.

Shortly after lights out, I was awoken by snoring, snorting and choking on chronic post nasal drip. I tried to reposition him, pounded his back to get him to cough and clear and even pinched his nose (well short of suffocation, don’t worry) in the hopes he’d flip the switch to mouth breathing. Nothing silenced the mucous musical.

I was about to grab my pillow and just go sleep in his bed. Until I remembered his room is haunted.

About 2 months ago, we bought new mattresses for the bunk beds. A friend of mine was helping me switch them out. Wait, my white privilege is making me feel guilty to tell you my housekeeper was helping me. We had stripped the old mattresses and were chatting for a moment when I saw the corner of the mattress on the top bunk slowly depress and then slowly recover. I asked her if she saw that. She laughed nervously and confirmed my sighting. Neither of us were frightened so I took the spirit to be a friendly presence.

It’s not the first time Betty June has come to visit. Middle Child was 5 when my grandmother died. Shortly after she passed, he requested a picture of her to keep at his bedside. At the time he was the lower bunk tenant. Soon after, he told me Great Grammy had come to visit him. Maybe she had needed the photo as a gateway to come see him. He described her appearance in great detail. She had let her hair grow long and it was blonde. She was wearing dangly earrings, purple silk pants, a green silk shirt with purple polka dots and very high heels. My grandmother was a fashion plate in life, her outfit in death made complete sense. Who knew Dolce & Gabbana had an afterlife line?

Her next appearance in our home was when the baby was about two. We had moved all his toys to a makeshift play area in the living room. Unable to sleep, I was walking down the hall when a toy cow mooed at me. In the middle of the night. I instantly knew it was the sarcastic commentary of my grandmother. She was fitness crazed well before Olivia Newton John got physical and was not secretive in her assessments of my or my cousins’ appearance. Clearly, she felt it was time for me to drop the baby weight and get in shape.

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. I had a terrible asthma attack in the middle of the night. The children were spending the night with grandparents so in an effort not to disturb my husband, I went to sleep in the bottom bunk. Just as I started to settle, I was overcome with a feeling of panic and dread. There was no doubt in my mind that I was not alone, and my roommate was not pleased with my presence.

I don’t know why she’s got her panties in a wad but I sure as hell wasn’t going back. Maybe she just wanted her little nugget back in bed with her. Fine by me. I moved him and hoped that demon spirits wouldn’t drag him back to Hades before morning.