by Annette Dashofy
I love Halloween and all the ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. However, as I’ve been struggling to think of a scary story in keeping with this month’s theme, I fear I’ve come up empty. Oh, I believe in ghosts. And I’ve had my own personal experience with those who have passed. But in my case, the experiences have been peaceful instead of scary.
Back when my grandfather died, I felt his presence for months. He watched over me after his death much as he had when he was alive.
And then there are my animal ghost stories.
Years ago, a good friend of mine moved across the country. Her parents drove her to her new home and left their kitty, Miss Jenna, in my care. I visited her daily and could tell she was grateful for the company. After that, every time I went to their house, Jenna, who was cool and aloof to everyone else, would run to me and demand to be petted. Time passed and Jenna grew old. One day I was sitting in my house with my own Sammie cat, who I might add looked NOTHING like Jenna. But when I looked over at her, it was Jenna’s face I saw so clearly that I had to blink twice to make sure it was indeed my own Sammie purring at my feet. In that moment I knew that Jenna had passed and had stopped by to say good-bye. A phone call from my friend a couple of hours later confirmed my suspicion. Jenna’s appearance at my house coincided almost to the minute of her death.
Then there’s Gypsy’s tale. Gypsy was my pony. She was born on our farm and sadly foundered at the age of two. Founder, for those unfamiliar with such things, is a condition which leaves the horse or pony chronically lame. Thanks to my wonderful blacksmith, we were able to keep Gypsy comfortable for many years. Eventually, though, the lameness grew more intense. When I could no longer ease her pain, I made the dreadful decision to have her put down. Many tears were shed over that decision.
A couple of nights later, I had a dream. But it was more than a dream…so vivid that I can recall each detail decades later. I stood in a field of tall grass. On the hillside above me stood Gypsy. She whinnied and began to gallop down the hill. Two fences separated us, but she cleared them both with ease and came up to me, placing her muzzle in my hand, clearly telling me that it was okay. Now, at long last, she was free.
When my beloved old Jenny mare (not to be confused with Jenna the cat) passed, I had no hope at all that she would revisit me in my dreams. Jenny’s personality was more self-serving. She couldn’t be bothered to check on me when heavenly green pastures beckoned. And I was right. She passed in 1996 and I never heard from her again.
Until a month or so ago. Life has been stressful around here. Horseback riding, a wonderful source of release, hasn’t been on my agenda this summer (my friend whom I ride with is expecting a baby). But one night in my dreams—another vivid one, not to be forgotten—I had one more ride on my exquisite mare. I touched her dark chestnut coat and felt its texture. I even fingered the dimple in the muscle of her hip…a scar from an old injury I’d long forgotten until that moment in my dream. Her jog was every bit as smooth as ever. She was as light on the bit as any horse I’ve ever ridden. Thanks, Jenny, old girl, for giving me that gift.
And I apologize for not offering our readers a Halloween fright today. But not all ghosts are bad.