Tonight, I am looking forward to a visit with my mom.  She hasn’t been on this planet for quite some time, but we do keep in touch and it is always a pleasant surprise when she visits.  That being said, she usually comes when I least expect it, tonight may or may not be the right time.  Nevertheless, I will prepare an ‘ancestor feast,’ as I do every year.  Late in the evening, I put out my parent’s favourite treats:  vanilla ice cream for my mom and a beer for my dad.  Just to let them know they are welcome for a little celebration.  Then, I light candles and a nice incense, turn off the lights, talk to them (whether I feel their presence or not) and meditate. 

The first time my mom came to visit in spirit form was about a week after she ‘died.’  I missed her terribly and every night I sat in a darkened room in front of a candle and talked to her, just as I had during our phone conversations when she was alive.  I was afraid she wouldn’t come at all, in spite of our agreement.  Maybe when you die, you just die and there is nothing else.  That thought was devastating. 

My mom had been an excellent seamstress and, when she was alive, every time she came to visit me, she would mend some piece of clothing I owned (I’m hopeless with a needle and thread).  On this night, still miserable that I hadn’t heard from her, I told her about a beautiful cape a seamstress had made for me.  It happened to be hanging outside the closet and I looked at it as I spoke to her.  There were originally three frog closures on the cape, but the third one had been loose and the last time I wore it, it had fallen off.  A friend and I had looked everywhere for the missing frog, but could not find it. 

After I finished talking to mom (without any response), I blew out the candle and went to bed.  The next morning, when I went to put the cape away, I noticed one, two, THREE frog closures securely sewn on the cape!  For days after, I cried tears of gratitude and amazement.  Then I called the friend who’d helped me search for the missing frog.  “Yes,” she said, “I remember.  There were only two closures on that cape.  We looked everywhere for the third one.” 
the 3 frogs

There have been numerous visits since then.  Once or twice, I’ve actually seen her.  Her visits are always magical; they have made me laugh and cry and everything in between.  They’re kind of like ectoplasmic Hallmark cards.  My mom is nothing if not creative and humorous. 

Even more surprising are those visits from total strangers, many of whom have given me their stories. 

One day, while sitting at the computer writing my first novel, I felt quite strongly that someone was standing behind my right shoulder. The person did not speak, but the air was heavy with their presence.

I was writing about an old fisherman, making things up as I went along because I know next to nothing about fishing, manoeuvring boats, nets or even which fish are prevalent in the area I was writing about. I’d never even visited the remote area of Co. Clare I was writing about!  I stopped abruptly, unable to think of another Irish expletive, circa 1847.  I couldn’t use the same ones over again.  Suddenly, from behind my right shoulder, a gravelly male voice shouted, “Begob!”  I jumped and looked behind me, but of course, there was no one there.  I typed, “Begob,” not even sure how to spell it, and then continued writing.
The next day, weary of my own ignorance, I went to the library to begin research. I chose a book from the shelf that was fiction, but at least it was the same time period as my story.  I opened the book to an arbitrary spot in the middle and the first word that leapt off the page at me was: “Begob!”  I gasped out loud, the book slipped from my hands and hit the floor with a thud.  Other people in the library stared at me.  When I opened the book again, I couldn’t find the same page or the word until I took it home and read the whole thing.  Sure enough, it was there in print.  “Begob!” Damn!  And I spelled it right too! 

Later, after loads of research, I was to find out that much of what I had written in this historical fiction novel was indeed fact.  In one instance, I even got an old man’s last name right.  Just lucky guesses?  Or were spirits really there, dictating to me in some fashion? 

I believe that we are all being visited by spirits.  We may not realize it, but they are there, standing next to us, whispering stories to us, touching our lives with their after lives. 

If you crave a visit from an ancestor this evening, I would recommend this powerful meditation:
Turn off the lights, light a white candle and stare at the flame for a minute.  Then close your eyes and see that flame become a fire.  Someone is sitting before the fire.  It is your ancestor.  It may or may not be one that you recognise.  Notice what he or she looks like and say hello.  Now, sit beside him or her and watch the flames.  If you wish, ask your ancestor a question and wait to hear the answer.  If you do not have a question to ask or do not hear a verbal answer, hold out your hand and allow your ancestor to give you an object.  What does the object you receive mean to you?  Stay by the fire and share whatever you will or just keep quiet and listen.  When you are finished, say ‘thank you’ and offer a hug or other gesture if appropriate. 

This meditation is wonderful if there is someone you’re longing to speak to, but it can be particularly useful if there is someone in your past you need to release.  And tonight is the best time to do that.  Who knows, if you’re participating in NaNo, you might even attract someone who can provide a good portion of the 50,000 words you’ll need to finish! 

However you choose to celebrate tonight, here’s wishing you and your ancestors a most joyous holiday!  And please, do share any stories of your own to add to the celebration.