Fosdick and Me: A ghost story (I think)

I’m pleased by the response to my offhand mention of the ghost in my house, because I love ghost stories, my own and others’. As promised, here’s my tale about how I met my ghost–and I promise it’s not scary.

I saw a full-body apparition in my back garden several years ago. It was not my first unusual experience, although it was my first apparition. I’ve been the recipient of too many premonitions to count (one of them really scary, about a problem with an airplane, that proved terrifingly accurate), several visitations, some true dreams, and not a few incidents of extra-sensory perception. But Fosdick was, and is still, my only actual apparition.

I collect other people’s experiences, too. I was at a Cabi party (it’s like Tupperware for clothes, and the togs are fantastic) and the poor saleswoman got completely sidelined while we all swapped our tales of extranormal experiences. Two stood out from that evening: One was told by a woman who heard a voice telling her not to pull out into an intersection, and narrowly missed being T-boned. The other was a widow whose deceased husband showed up at their daughter’s wedding, wearing the running clothes he had on when he was struck and killed by a vehicle.

My little story isn’t nearly that exciting, more curious. Something about the very mundanity of it pleases me.

Three days before we moved to the Town at the End of the Road, my beloved Scottie, Piper, who was my heart dog, unexpectedly and traumatically died. I was heartbroken, grieving in the midst of the excitement of moving to a place we had always wanted to live. In the enormous back garden, which at that time was unfenced, so that theoretically anyone could walk in off the street, I made a little shrine with the tiny urn of Piper’s ashes in the center. I surrounded it with stones, and put in a couple of flowering plants.

That simple little memorial was clearly charged with emotion. Birds gathered there often, perching on the stones. One morning I found a fawn, all by itself, curled up next to the urn. (There are lots of deer in this town, but usually fawns stick close to their mothers.)

The day of my sighting I was alone at the house. Our bedroom is on the lower level, with windows and a glass door opening onto the garden. The bathroom is connected, so that when you come out of it you can turn right and go out into the garden if you want—and if you have clothes on—which I didn’t.

I had just come out of the downstairs shower, starkers, headed for my closet for some clothes. I glanced casually to my right, and to my horror, saw there was a man in the garden. He was wearing a bright blue shirt, and he was kneeling beside Piper’s shrine, reaching in as if to straighten the little pottery urn.

I leaped back into the bathroom for a towel to wrap myself in, a maneuver that could only have taken three seconds. When I looked out at the garden again, the man had disappeared. Of course I went out the door, looking for him, but he was gone.

I spent some time trying to convince myself I hadn’t seen what I saw. I do have a vivid imagination, of course, because I couldn’t do my work without it. It was no use trying to talk myself out of it, though. He was there. I think he was drawn to the emotions around that little shrine, and I also think, after doing some research, that it could have been a man named Fosdick, who lived in this wonderful house for many years. I can imagine he loved this place as much as we do, and left a bit of his energy behind.

I only saw him once in that way. Since then, half a dozen times or so, I’ve caught a glimpse of a shadow moving down an upstairs hallway. It’s not in the least scary, or creepy. He’s welcome here, and he’s doing no harm at all. I had to move the shrine as we improved the garden. We have a fence now, to keep the deer out and the new dog in. I don’t expect to see Fosdick again. It was just a unique moment, a startling experience that probably won’t repeat. I wish he’d come back and say hello, though!

It has always been my intention to hold a ghost story night at the Rainforest Writers Retreat or at some friendly convention. We would have to have rules, like stories with only one or two degrees of separation, but it would be fascinating. At one of my events for the release of The Witch’s Kind I was asked about my own paranormal experiences, and once I got started, I talked for almost an hour. I hadn’t even realized I had so many, and I received a lot of them in return.

If you would like to share yours here, please do, but no debunking, please. We know these events are neither provable nor repeatable. They are the unique expressions of intense emotions, ours or the ghost’s, or the result of some external condition, like my airplane premonition, things we can’t control (and which I hope never to experience again!) Like this lengthy anecdote, they require context and explanation, which is why a candlelit gathering of writers and readers—with wine, I hope—would be the perfect venue.

Let’s do that sometime, my friends, when we’re able to be together! In the meantime, stay safe in this Year of Plague. As the redoubtable Queen Elizabeth says, we’ll meet again.

4 thoughts on “Fosdick and Me: A ghost story (I think)”

  1. I love that story Sometimes I have those little shining I call them long story short, oct 3 2019 7:30am I was thinking of my ex husband and I said to him (by myself of course) that I had forgiven him and how he was when we were married. At 930 that very morning a friend called me and said he had died that morning.
    I hope it found him peace.

  2. Oh, Cindy! We have something in common. My first husband and I split up decades ago, with no contact, ever, once the divorce was final. Suddenly, three years ago, I had an extremely vivid dream of him. Googled him the next morning, and sure enough, he had passed away. I know without a doubt he came to say goodbye. It was one of the most healing things I’ve ever experienced.

    Thanks so much for sharing your tale!

  3. Debora Godfrey

    I’m not sure this exactly qualifies as a ghost story. In the fairly early days of the AIDS epidemic, I had a wonderful coworker named Alan. He was a beautiful soul who had had much sorrow in his life. When his partner died of AIDS, it was yet another tragedy, but somehow it didn’t make him bitter. We all hoped that he had managed to escape, but no. He was in the hospital, estimated to have another month or so, and his friends were trying to arrange for him to go home for his last few weeks. I’d decided I would go see him the following day before he moved, because it would be less obtrusive than going to his house. Crossing a street by Pioneer Square after lunch, I was suddenly filled with a powerful sense of joy and balloons, so strong I stumbled, carrying with it that particular warmth that was Alan’s gift. Later that afternoon, I found that he’d died unexpectedly, at the very moment that I’d felt him say goodbye.

  4. That’s beautiful, Debora. It’s so important, don’t you think, not to discount these experiences? I had one similar to this, a visitation from my father, and it would have been too easy to say it was imagination. Fortunately, my mom and I had the same one at the same time!

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