I had never believed in ghosts, but after that hot summer’s day in 1987, I
could never be certain again.
The idea of a moaning, translucent, hovering ghost remains just the stuff of lazy Hollywood screenwriters. What I experienced was, well, I still don’t know. So I will let you, the reader, decide.
My wife and I would spend a week each summer at a cabin north of Havelock in Ontario’s Northern Shield. It was nature in the raw that allowed us to dust off city life and renew our humanity.
This particular summer, our hearts were heavy with concern for a favourite aunt: Aunt Marnie.
My mother first met her future sister-in-law decades earlier at a volleyball tournament. She was sweaty and skinned and yet still maintained a spark that fired her enthusiasm and passion for whatever adventure was at hand.
We all witnessed that spark as she gripped my Uncle Earl’s waist as they zipped about town on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle, or as she exulted at their latest discovery of an antique that would be beautiful, once more, under her skilled hand.
But Aunt Marnie saved her most profound passion for her three children, her husband, nieces, nephews, co-workers, friends and all of their friends.
She always cooked more than enough for supper in case someone took advantage of the open invitation to dinner. No notice was necessary – not for family, or friends, or anybody.
It was likely her passion for life that kept her alive for so long with that insidious disease: lung cancer.
So, my story begins: my wife and I finished up our annual vacation on that lake north of Havelock. We headed south to Highway 7 and signaled left to return to our home in Ottawa. If we had headed straight, we would get to Trenton, where Aunt Marnie and Uncle Earl lived. But we didn’t have time. We had to join the rat race once again.
As we approached Highway 7, a wind rushed up the highway toward us from the other side. Yet no dust was whipped up, no leaves rustled. It was a hot still day, there was no reason for a wind.
It wasn’t a wind by any definition that makes sense. Indeed, none of our usual senses picked up on it. Yet my wife asked me, “What was that?”
We both agreed that “wind” was the closest explanation we could come up with.
Three hours later, we were home and a message was waiting for me. My brother wanted me to phone him. Aunt Marnie had passed away.
Three hours ago.
Shock, grief, acceptance. But what about that wind? What did it mean?
We decided not to tell anyone about it. This was not the time.
After the funeral, as we helped put away chairs, Aunt Marnie’s son-in-law told me he was taking Uncle Earl in his bush plane to scatter her ashes.
She had pre-arranged everything: she wanted her ashes to be scattered in the Canadian Shield, just north of Havelock.
My kind reader, can you now see why a rational man, such as myself, could no longer scoff at the idea of ghosts?
We all have energy. Just because we cannot see it or touch it or understand it in any way we currently have, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Aunt Marnie’s energy – or spirit, if you will – was rushing to the Canadian Shield ahead of her discarded body.
Taking the thought process one step further, her ghost did not want to scare us or steal our attention. It just wanted the peace it deserved. And as loving as Aunt Marnie was, it was not out of the question that her spirit would first wash over us ever so gently on its way home.