So, with Halloween only days away I've a story to share fitting of the season. I heard it years ago from my Dad, and he relayed it to me a few days after it happened to him.
Dad and his wife Rita had spent an evening watching television as they often did. Shortly after nine o'clock Rita went to bed while Dad stayed up to watch a couple of his favorite shows before calling it a night. Sometime later he fell asleep in his chair and was awakened by Rita around two in the morning. He opened his eyes and saw her standing in front of him, dressed in her long night gown. Convinced he was now awake, she turned and began walking back to their bedroom. Dad sat in his chair and watched her, eyes open, seeing and yet disbelieving. Walking next to Rita was a little girl also dressed in a long night gown. With one hand the child was holding Rita's left hand and with the other she held a teddy bear. Thinking he was still asleep, Dad rubbed his eyes and shook his head. The girl was still there. He called out to Rita and she stopped. The little girl stopped as well, and peered at my father around Rita's body. Dad asked Rita who the little girl was and Rita asked him what he was talking about. He pointed to her and said she was standing at Rita's side.
Now, my father was a bit of a prankster and naturally Rita passed this off as one of those moments, told him to stop trying to scare her and walked away, disappearing into the hallway that led to their bedroom. She didn't see any child. Dad sat there momentarily, wondering. Asking himself many questions. Had he imagined the child? Maybe it was just a trick of the light from the television screen. Maybe he was still asleep. He rose from the chair, turned off the television, and followed Rita to bed.
Over coffee that morning, Dad brought up the subject of the little girl with Rita. She didn't believe him, and voiced her displeasure at this attempt to scare her. She waved him away...until she saw something in his eyes. There was a seriousness she recognized, and at that moment she realized this wasn't one of his jokes.
I treated him with the same certainty that he was toying with me in the retelling of what had happened. But within minutes, his seriousness and conviction had me wondering if maybe he really did see something in the living room that night. Especially after he told me he checked the property records and learned a family had lived in the house before Rita. Prompted by curiosity he did some research and also learned the family had built the home for themselves but moved out within a few years after a child died from an illness; the child was a six year old girl.
In talking with my sisters about the experience, we were mixed about what Dad had seen. Whether it was just his imagination or his sleepy mind playing tricks with his eyes, or something else...we didn't agree. But each of us agreed on one thing; Rita was a warm, loving person, the kind of person children connect with and are drawn to. If Dad really had seen the little girl it was easy to see why she was drawn to Rita.
Last year I asked Rita about that story and whether she still believed my father. She does, and she admitted that every so often when she walks through the living room she feels a little cold in the place where Dad says he saw the girl. She feels a little cold, even during the hottest day of summer. And her home doesn't even have air conditioning.