Reflecting back in time ~ The Celts lived 2,000 years ago in the areas that are now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France. The origins of Halloween date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Halloween marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The Celts believed that the change of seasons was a bridge between the world of the living and the dead.
To commemorate the event, and ward off the ghosts, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic gods. During the celebration, they wore costumes, typically comprised of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.
From this potted history we can see where today’s celebrations consisting of costumes, scary tales, and trick or treats originated.
For me- as a youngster- Halloween wasn’t as popular a celebration for children as it seems to have become. My Uncle used to tell a few spooky tales but that was about as exciting as it got for my brother and me. Mum would never have allowed us to go out knocking on neighbours and relative strangers doors asking for for sweets. She would have seen that as begging.
When I was about 8 years old my Dad left my Mum, brother and me and started a new family with another woman. Consequently, from that day I never saw him again. Divorce was not as common then, so I was a little embarrassed to talk about it at school, particularity being a Catholic, for whom marriage vows are meant to be taken very seriously.
Children have an amazing capacity to just get on with life and that’s exactly what I did. I had an incredible imagination so spent my time in play or reading. I can honestly say I do not really remember missing him, although, my relationship with my father was, shall we say, confusing for me.
It was very different for my mum though. My dad had been, and remained until the day she died, the love of her life.
Reflecting back ~ The Haunting Truth
A very curious thing happened one evening a few years later. So strange I have never forgotten it. My mum and I discussed these events many times when I was older. She always stood by the following version.
On a cold dusky October afternoon, about two years after Dad left, my mum and I were sitting in our dining room having some refreshments. Our front door was actually at the back of the house, and took you into the kitchen. To get to it you had to walk down the path and past the long dining room window that I was sitting with my back towards. My brother was expected home shortly, so my mum kept glancing up at the window.
We were chatting, well my mum was listening to a lengthy monologue regarding a school activity I wanted to tell her about. All of a sudden she jumped out of her chair, face cloaked with a shocked expression. Staring towards the window she exclaimed,
Haunting Truth, Stranger Than Fiction
She went out of the dining room and into the kitchen to open the front door. For a moment I sat glued to my chair : Charles was my dads name and I was somewhat bewildered as to what was happening. Mum didn’t return so I went through to the kitchen. She was just shutting the front door and directly ran to the back, opening it.
“Charles where are you?”
She was shouting, and sounded short of breath.
Finally, flushed and wide eyed she came in. I asked her if she had seen my Dad. She looked very puzzled, but replied,
“I saw him pass by the window, but somehow he was gone by the time I reached the door.”
This didn’t seem possible as he would not have been able to escape down our long narrow path so quickly.
Soon after my brother came home and family life continued. Mum seemed slightly preoccupied but to my childish mind all was well.
That night whilst in bed I heard the phone ring. As normal I went and sat at the top of the stairs to listen. I couldn’t gage too much apart from the words my Mum uttered,
When the call was over I heard my Mum gulping and softly sobbing. I didn’t know what to do. Almost immediately she was on the phone again and within minutes I heard the front door shutting and my Aunt’s voice consoling my Mum.
It all became a little too intense for me. In the dim light I tiptoed down the stairs and stood quietly at the living room door in my nightdress. Before they had realised I was there I heard my Mum proclaim,
“I don’t understand, I only saw him this afternoon.”
Mirror tells a different tale
My Aunt jumped up when she saw me and taking my hand led me back to my room. She realised I had heard enough of their conversation not to be able to fob me off with nonsense. With her arm around me she softly explained that the telephone call my mum had received earlier was from my dad’s mum – my Nan, with sad news.
My dad was dead.
I felt nothing. Yet rooted to the spot I glimpsed my face in the dressing table mirror. The image reflecting back told a different tale.
At the actual time my Mum momentarily caught him passing by our window, Charles had died of a sudden heart attack in Brighton – some 90 miles away from where we lived.
This has been updated for 4thoughts prompt of Haunted. I first shared the true tale in October 2017…
Find out more – Empathic Death Experiences