Ok, now, if you know me and you are reading this you have just decided that I have lost it completely. I have believed in ghosts for a very long time. I'm not sure how long really.
First off, let's define "ghost". Most definitions say that a ghost is an apparition, or an illusion. An irrational belief in something that is not there. A spirit of a dead person that can be seen.
So, I may not believe in that kind of ghost. My ghosts do have the spirit of people who have been at a place before. The fact that their hand has touched something that your hand is touching for instance.
When I traveled to Norway in 1997, I stayed at the Kjorrefjord in Norway at the farm where my grandfather was born, grew up and ultimately, returned to and died. I walked through the hills and climbed the trees, trying to imagine him there doing the same. He died before I was born. He died before any of his grandchildren were born. He left Oregon and went home to Norway in 1939.
I digress. My definition, or feeling of what a ghost is, is this; it is the presence of someone who was there and is not there any more. It is feeling the presence of that life. Not in a spiritual/ religious was, but in the way a mother knows her baby is about to cry. It is a connection of sme sort that I have really not found words for yet.
Today I visited the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia. As I looked at the exhibits of old ships and boats and read about them, I could imagine the people who had the experiences I was reading about. I know that when someone is gone- dead, they are gone. But, no matter how long they have been gone, or how long they lived, they did exist and left themselves on earth. Some way, somehow. They may have left a finger print or other physical evidence of their life. They may have left children. They may have left property. They may have left nothing but their bones or their ashes. But they were here. Occupying the same space we occupy.
And, in my own way, I met lots of ghosts today.
My biggest surprise was meeting a ghost that was a part of my personal life history. While looking at some large scale models of ships, I came across a model of the SS America. We crossed the Atlantic Ocean on our way home from Afghanistan, in 1961. I was only 7 years old, so not old enough to do a lot of exploring on the ship, but old enough to remember it.
Somewhere I think I have the menus and pictures of my parents and my brother, sister and myself aboard the ship. It was the last overseas tour my dad had. We went first class and I know that my mother loved it. The crossing has become a part of family lore. Except, most of the family that I was a part of back then is gone. Both of my parents and my brother have died. Only my sister and I are left to reminisce about the "good old days".
And so I live with my ghosts. The week of my life spent aboard the SS America has lasted in my memory for over 50 years. What a glorious time. What a glorious ship. I took pictures to show my sister when I get back home.
I looked at pictures of the ship as a wreck being dashed by the ocean. I am shocked and sad. My dream ship is dead too. But it lives on as a ghost for me to cherish.