The Apotheosis of Penelope Boothby (1796)
by Michele Benedetti after Henry Fuseli
As a change of pace from sharing my discoveries of 18th century life and in keeping with the season, I will share another true ghostly encounter experienced by my down-to-earth husband.
Several years ago when Bill lived in Hanover, Massachusetts and worked as a graphic designer, he had a part time office assistant named Mildred who worked off and on for him over a three year period of time. Mildred lived in town, about a quarter mile from Bill's residence, and often expressed her love of her home and the neighborhood. She experienced personal challenges and found great comfort in her home and the kindness of her neighbors.
Mildred was brokenhearted when her husband informed her that the company for which he worked was transferring him to Nashua, New Hampshire, about 70 miles away. She decided she had no choice but to join him and, with great regret, packed up and moved away. Their house sold quickly to new owners who pretty much kept to themselves. Occasionally, Mildred returned to Hanover to visit and would stop by Bill's office to see how things were going.
|"Welcome to Hanover" By John Phelan (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 |
via Wikimedia Commons
About four years passed when, around 10:00 on a lovely autumn Sunday morning with golden light shining down on the brightly colored leaves, Bill drove from his house to a newsstand for his weekly ritual of purchasing the Sunday newspaper. His route took him by Mildred's former home and, to his surprise, he saw her out in the front yard raking leaves. She looked up and they exchanged a wave and a smile as he passed by. He couldn't imagine what she was doing there, raking leaves in the current owner's yard, and when he came back by a few minutes later he planned to stop and chat with her.
When Bill reached the house, she was no longer in the yard. He looked in the driveway and only saw the current owner's car. Puzzled, he pulled up in front of the house and walked to the front door. Looking around for any sign of Mildred, he rang the doorbell and a man he had only seen a few times, but who Bill recognized as the homeowner, opened the door.
Bill answered his quizzical expression with his own question, "Hi, I'm a friend of Mildred's and when I drove by a few minutes ago, I noticed her raking leaves out in your front yard. Is she still here? I'd love to see her."
The man wrinkled his forehead, "Mildred?"
"Yes, you know, the woman you bought this house from."
The man shook his head and told Bill Mildred wasn't there. He hadn't seen her since he bought the place.
"I could have sworn it was her I just saw out there," he said, pointing to the front yard. "Is there another woman here who was doing yard work this morning?"
"No," the man said beginning to look suspiciously at Bill. "No one's here today except me."
With that, he closed the door leaving Bill standing alone in complete bewilderment.
"Hanover Center Cemetary" By John Phelan (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Once he returned home he went about his usual Sunday morning routine but couldn't get the odd incident out of his head. Several hours later he received a phone call from a neighbor who asked if he had heard the news about Mildred.
"No," he said, and before he could tell her about his experience earlier in the day, she announced, "Well, she's dead! Poor dear was killed in a car accident around 10:00 this morning."
"Here?" Bill asked, "In Hanover?"
"Oh no," she replied, "right near her house in Nashua."
So, dear Reader, what do you make of that? Was Mildred making a quick, ghostly stopover to visit her beloved home one more time before she went...wherever she was going? To quote Shakespeare's Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
"Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus and the Ghost," 1796
by Robert Thew after Henry Fuseli
I'd love to hear your own ghost stories. Leave them as a comment, please, so we can all marvel at them.
Have a good week, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now!