Being Beautiful: The past is never dead; it isn’t even past

When I was a little boy, Mama told me stories of sights and wonders she had seen. Still today, those stories flood my mind with curiosity and fascination, normal meeting paranormal.

She was sitting on the front porch of her home as a young girl after the sun went down with nothing to light the night but lightning bugs when she saw children holding hands playing in the tiny cemetery just up the road. “I called out to them and cautioned them to not venture so close to the road,” she said. They just played on and on, oblivious to her as she grew older on Dykes Chapel Road and saw them many times.

Mama was a very literal person, not one to embellish stories, so we assumed these were the ghosts of young ones gone too soon, playing among the tombstones under the moonlight.

I have had similar experiences myself living in Vicksburg, believed by many to be one of the most haunted towns in Mississippi. A few weeks ago I climbed the stairs of my 1830’s townhouse just as I had done so many times before, but this morning was different. As I reached the first landing making my turn to carry myself up the remaining flight of old wooden stairs to the second floor, I felt the presence of someone watching me. I saw with my very own eyes three women gathered on stairs dressed in vintage church dresses holding their Bibles. I was not afraid. As I kept moving up the stairway, they stepped to one side allowing me to pass.

When I looked back over my shoulder they were no longer there. I sat for the longest time trying to make sense of it all, and all I can say is that I felt such love, warmth, and genuine peace from them. It was as if the past where they lived and the present where I live collided for a few seconds in some alternate time and space. It was beautiful.

Our friends in Columbus, another antebellum city where I once lived, reside in one of the beautiful tour homes, and they often tell the story of a friendly ghost who has been seen for generations by their family and friends who have spanned the centuries in that grand old mansion.

Yesterday as I drove passed a familiar street corner and peered over to the left, I saw an elderly man resting on the steps of one of our old churches. The light shining through a stained glass window lit him as the bright sun filtered through it. His eyes met mine. He smiled at me, and it felt as though an angel was looking into my soul. I drove away wondering what I had just witnessed. Looking back in my rearview mirror, there was nothing there but crepe myrtles.

Paranormal? Probably not, but hardly normal either.

Contact David at [email protected].