Posted October 22, 2010on:
Inspired by a recent post by Sean Ferrell, I decided to salute Halloween with my own real life ghost stories. Here, I present two tales, both true. One will make you laugh and the other will give you chills.
As an Italian American, I would be doomed – DOOMED, I tell you, to eternity in hell’s kitchens, if I ever served spaghetti sauce from a jar. However, I lack a green thumb and after trying to grow tomatoes year after year, I now buy cans of tomatoes from which to make my batches of sauce. Purchasing canned tomatoes is – apparently – allowed, as this story seems to prove.
A few years ago, with Son 1 and Son 2 in tow, I was grocery shopping with a very long list in my hand. I realized I’d forgotten the cans of crushed tomatoes, so the three of us headed down the pasta aisle. We passed the Ronzoni and the Newman’s Own, but I never saw the brand of canned tomatoes I like (Tuttorossi, in case you’re curious.)
“Has anyone seen the crushed tomatoes?” I muttered. With Son 1 on my left and Son 2 on my right, we peered closely at the selection.
Right before our eyes, a can of the EXACT brand of crushed tomatoes I like leaped off the shelf and dropped onto the floor in the center of the aisle, right side up. No one was there to push it from the other side. (I checked.) Our jaws dropped and our eyes bugged. I looked at Son 1, Son 1 looked at Son 2, Son 2 looked at me and then the three of us exploded in giggles, concluding the ghost of my grandmother was merely ensuring I did not buy the Ragu.
In 1992, I was a brand new mom enjoying my summertime maternity leave. One sunny day, after a long walk with a newborn who’d been fussy most of the previous night, I returned home, relieved that he’d fallen asleep in his stroller. The weather was mild. I decided to let him sleep on the patio in front of my apartment. (Each unit had a fenced deck with a locking gate, so I wasn’t worried about anyone taking him.) I set the brake on his stroller, an inexpensive portable kind, and went inside to get some housework done.
I washed dishes, watching my baby from the closed kitchen window. The kitchen went silent; the hum of the air-conditioner blissfully silent for a few minutes as the unit switched off. But somehow, a gusty breeze lifted the hair from my neck, raising goose pimples on my skin. When I smelled peppermint, I knew I wasn’t alone.
A voice spoke in my ear, or maybe just in my mind. “Patty Ann, bring the baby inside. Now.”
I wasn’t afraid. The voice belonged to my grandfather, who died when I was fourteen. I gave my newborn the middle name Anthony, in his honor. He always had peppermint Lifesavers in his pocket. I looked around, saw nothing, but felt him, knew he was right there, standing beside me.
I went outside, released the brakes on the baby’s stroller, wrestled it through the front door. I closed the door and stood for a moment, staring at my perfect son, trying to convince myself I hadn’t heard what I heard, felt what I felt, or smelled what I smelled.
A sudden crash on the patio startled me. It was loud enough to hear with the door and windows closed. I flung the door open and saw a white blur ricocheting off the patio fencing. It was a golf ball. It hit the patio deck hard enough to gouge the wood, and then bounced into the vinyl siding where it left a dent.
It hit exactly where my son’s stroller had been parked only seconds before.