About nine months after my father died, I was asleep in bed when something woke me up. It was in the month of June in the year 1982, and my room was still dark, with the morning light beginning to push the night away. Birds were beginning to sing and it seemed as if it might be a nice day.
I lay in bed, wondering what had disturbed me from my slumber and was at the point where you have just travelled from your dream to the waking world and are therefore not actually sure whether you are still asleep or awake. I looked up and tried to focus on the shadows that were still present in the room. I am very short sighted so, as you can imagine, this was impossible.
And then I saw it.
My bleary sleep-filled eyes were drawn to the door and my scrambled thoughts tried to let me know what my faulty eyes were telling me. As I was about to reach out from under the covers to grab my glasses so I could see what the thing was, something happened that was rather bizarre; I froze.
I use the word “froze” quite literally because I found myself unable to move. Bear in mind that it was June, and we are were in the midst of a lovely spell of hot weather, and I was lying there in bed, incapable of any movement and enveloped in what seemed like a cryogenic field.
And the thing by the door that I couldn’t describe due to my failed eyesight had moved towards me.
I tried to work out what the hell was going on; my mind was still scrambled, in that limbo between dreams and the waking world. I was confused and, now, scared.
I simply couldn’t move.
That’s when I heard the voice.
“It’s only me, Dave”.
I heard the words quite clearly – in my head. Still half asleep I couldn’t work out where the words had come from.
And then I was free. I could move and the iciness that had pinned me helplessly to the bed had vanished.
I sat up with a start and scrabbled around looking for my glasses.
I was breathing rapidly and my heart was pounding. As soon as I put on my glasses I looked at the door and saw – just a door. There was no weirdness in the room at all. It was just getting light and the shadows were succumbing to the sun as it gradually rose over the horizon. My room was empty. I was the only person in there. Whatever had been by the door and then moved to the side of my bed had also disappeared.
What did I see?
Well it’s difficult to say simply because my eyesight truly is poor. I am like Mr Magoo without my spectacles. The thing by the door appeared to be a cloud, white and nebulous but transparent enough for me to be able to see the walls and the door. It had no shape that I could make out, but it certainly moved. Had my maker not selected a duff pair of eyeballs for me when constructing me, I would probably have been able to make more sense of it. The thing certainly didn’t seem to me like it was human in form but then again, with my poor eyesight I could have been mistaken.
And what of the words? I could have sworn that the voice was my father.
I leapt up and switched the light on, still totally freaked out by what had happened.
I kept the story to myself and found it hard to sleep for the next few nights. I thought about it right up until I went back to university and then began to seriously doubt what I had seen.
However, when I returned at Christmas, the elder of my two sisters started telling a story about seeing a figure (or something) in her room; what made it stranger was that my youngest sister related a similar story. Neither had heard a voice.
Until that time, I was very sceptical about ghosts and, to be honest, I still am. Whenever I have told the story, I have convinced the recipient (and myself) that I was in between waking and sleeping and that the visitation was merely a figment of my imagination.
My sisters disagree. They are both blessed with perfect eyesight and their use of the word “figure” is quite revealing.
My father actually died in his own bed in the early hours of the morning, so there is a possibility, for those who believe in such things, that his spirit is still there. He was in fine health, or so we thought, and his death was very shocking. I can imagine, if he was aware of what was happening, that he would have been amazed himself.
He was 44 years old.
So, did I see the ghost of my father, and did he speak to me?
I’ve gone over the episode a few times since the occurrence and I’ve gradually convinced myself that I was simply dreaming.
For the first few months after it happened, I was so spooked that I actually began talking to my dead father just before I went to sleep. I lay in bed, in total darkness, and spoke aloud, addressing my father and telling him about my life at Liverpool University, my studies, my friends, my activities and my thoughts.
I was talking to a ghost.
In many ways, it was comforting. It took me several years to fully come to terms with my father’s death; to be honest, I still have a vacuum in my heart where he should be. He was so proud of my academic success and I am delighted that he found out that I was accepted at Liverpool University before he died. The encounter I had, whether it was real or not, caused me to think about what I had lost. By talking to my father I was opening up a whole new experience for myself, focussing on my goals, my desires and my achievements. I gained comfort from it and, as silly as it sounds, chatting to a ghost that may or may not have existed, was therapeutic and helped me get over the loss.
But did I really encounter a ghost?
Ultimately, I didn’t know for sure whether his ghost haunted our house and I still don’t. As far as I know, there have been no other encounters, certainly not for me anyway. My mum was sceptical when I told her some years later, and asked the obvious question: “Why hasn’t he come to see me?”
That’s a good question and is further evidence that I imagined the whole thing.
When I turned 44 myself, a few years ago, I suddenly began to feel a little strange. Deep down in my mind I knew I was being stupid, but I imagined for a while that the same thing would happen to me as had happened to my father. As crazy as it sounds, I began to believe that I, too, would shuffle off this mortal coil. I dubbed the year between October 8th 2006 and October 8th 2007 as “the year of death”.
On my 45th birthday, I celebrated – I mean really celebrated. I was over “the year of death” and I was still alive. I realise that such idiocy is absurd and as the year passed, try as I might, I couldn’t shake the feeling.
Of course, I didn’t let it dominate my life and now, looking back, I actually laugh at how dense I was. However, it just goes to prove that 25 years after his death, my father still influenced me.
He was a kind man, an intelligent man, an honest man and the light of my life as a child. He encouraged me to take the chances that he had been unable to take and I owe everything to him.
I still miss him.
So why am I writing about him now?
I was watching a TV programme the other day involving psychics and I began to rant about how these people are preying on the weakness of people who want to believe that their loved ones live on after death. I began writing this post as a means to expose these charlatans and the more I wrote, the more annoyed I became.
I started chatting to Mrs PM about it and somehow the subject drifted back to my father and my encounter with him.
Mrs PM had heard the story before and, being more open about these things, she said something that sent shivers up my spine:
“You know, Dave, you may think you were dreaming but I’m not so sure.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, as you know, I used to be short sighted too, before the laser treatment, and whenever I used to dream I could still see things as clearly as if I had been wearing my glasses. Can you see clearly when you dream?”
“Yes – I can.”
“But in this case, you couldn’t see clearly at all. Whatever you saw was blurred, so much so that you needed to put your glasses on to see it properly. I don’t think you were dreaming. I think there was something really there.”
When she spoke those last few words, I felt like crying. Maybe my father really had visited me. Perhaps he had taken one last opportunity to say goodbye, because he had died so suddenly that he hadn’t had the chance.
Maybe when I spoke to him in the weeks and months after the encounter, there was some part of him there that listened to me and understood.
And dad, if are still around somewhere, I miss you and I hope I’ve made you proud. Hopefully I will see you again one day.
For any psychics reading – you have a temporary reprieve while I contemplate this episode again. However, rest assured I will return with a post all about you and your “art” in the near future.