Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Old Man and Me (Part I, the Early Years)

I'm not sure when we found each other. He was suddenly there. I believe he followed me home. If he told me his name, I've since forgotten. I want to say it was "James" but I could be wrong. I just refer to him as the Old Man.
He knew he was dead but he had stuck around to look after his girls, but they couldn't perceive them. He realized that I could not only perceive him but interact with him so he started to look after me, too. But sometimes he left to go check on his girls.
I remember that, at first, he scared me. He managed to convince me that he wasn't a bad man and he listened to me. In a house full of people, sometimes this ghost was the only one who did.
Mom would often walk in on me in mid-game or mid-conversation with the Old Man. Since she couldn't perceive him, she assumed I was talking with myself. While grateful that I could entertain myself so, she also worried about me. When the Old Man wasn't around I interacted with the family more but when he was there I tended to stay in my room, "alone".
I learned to play off his presence fairly well and he learned that he could stay around without fear of being seen. I recall one day sitting on my bed with him, playing my favorite board game (I had to move all the pieces), when Mom burst into the room. She was certain that there was someone else there? But no, I was all alone. As far as she knew. He and I laughed about after she had left. I learned later that Mom sometimes would listen outside my door, trying to catch... something? She just didn't realize what was going on and wouldn't believe me when I tried to tell her. That turned out to by my undoing, time and time again.
I suspected the Old Man was looking after my mother and her sister. He assured me that that wasn't the case, that he wasn't even related to me. I was too young at the time to do much investigative work so I had to let it drop. Reading at a first grade level still isn't helpful when one doesn't have the means to reach the County Clerk's office. In hindsight, I am not convinced that he wasn't a relative. I think he realized that Mom couldn't deal with the thought of someone not going to Heaven just so they can keep an eye on her so he told me that my mother wasn't one of his girls that he was looking after.
The Old Man played a bigger part in my life as I got older. But that will have to wait for another day.

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