Katie Letcher Lyle

Books & Articles:

My Neighbors' Ghosts

© Mariner Publishing, 2007

My Neighbor's Ghost


This is typical: The small white-haired lady, whose name I can’t recall, leans forward over her grocery cart in Kroger and clutches her purse. She has heard I’m writing a book of ghost stories. The celery leaves tremble slightly as she tells her story.

“In 1918,” she begins, “during the flu epidemic, my great-grandmother went to help out with her daughter, husband, and three children, all five of whom had the flu. It was summer, and she got off the train in the Oklahoma town where they lived, and hurried towards their house, which was then on the edge of town. Night was falling, and she heard beautiful singing voices ahead of her all the way to the house. Puzzled, she felt that the singers were just ahead of her and she’d catch up any minute. The gorgeous delicate voices with their perfect harmony gradually faded just as she reached the house; she never encountered the singers.

Inside, all the house was in shock. The two youngest children had just died.

“Afterwards, they always believed that what my great-grandmother heard was the angels that had come for the children. My mother, the only surviving child, told me this.”

What to make of such a story? As I continue my own shopping, I ponder how many of my friends and relatives would pooh-pooh it without question. Others would, of course, believe it entirely, perhaps on faith. Still others, made believers by experiences of their own, would chime in with their own “angel” or “amazing coincidence” or “ghost” stories. As a writer, a truth-seeker, all my life I have never known which position to take regarding tales that most would call supernatural. I’ve been asking people now for my whole life if they have any ghost stories.

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