Do you believe in ghosts?

I asked Himself that question. He looked at me, skeptically. “Why do you ask?” He wanted to say he didn’t believe. But I knew he had seen at least one ghost. In fact, studies have shown that 45% of Americans believe they have seen ghosts. The number would probably be higher if everyone was totally honest.

So what are ghosts anyhow? Many are experiences felt to be a paranormal encounter that can’t be explained any other way. It could be the spirit of a person or animal gone on to another dimension but still visible to those living in this one. It could vary in appearance from a wispy shape to a life like form.

One of my Scottish ancestors died chasing a Will-o-the-wisp across the marsh behind their village. It was described as a sprite carrying a “wisp” of light. Ghost? Maybe.

On the other hand, ghosts might look like any other person you might encounter. Cousin Bella’s house was once the family home. It is part of a row of houses, all connected and all built at about the same time. Our visits there usually include a brisk walk around the village, often ending with a cup of tea at Cousin Willie’s place. Once we were returning to Bella’s when we noted an elderly gentleman, arms akimbo, staring at us. His wee black and white dog bounced about his feet, but didn’t bark.

Inside Bella’s home we were welcomed by the smell of soup simmering on the stove and a fire burning in the fireplace. Later on Himself brought up the stranger we had seen. “I never noticed the cottage at the end of the row,” he began. “Could use some work.” “You saw the cottage?” Bella asked as she refilled our coffee mugs.”Yes, we did,” Himself answered.  “And the owner, I guess, with his dog.” Bella nodded. “That’ll be Old John Skinner,” she said. “He likes to keep track of what’s going on in the village.” “Is he a relative of Grammie’s?” I asked. They shared the same last name but Grammie hadn’t mentioned him. “Oh, aye,” Bella replied. “She probably didn’t mention him because he’s been gone for over 30 years. The house was torn down long ago. Still, it appears now and then.” Himself cannot otherwise explain the incident. He saw a ghost.

Read the feature column, Herself, by Margaret Frost each week in The Barberton Herald. Subscribe today! Call 330-753-1068 or visit

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