There have always been ghosts haunting the houses in which we lived. They came with the family heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. You got the goods, you got the ghosts. The possessions bottle-necked with my mother, an only child – the only child to that generation. She received the collection of pieces that had scattered across the US which came through Ellis Island from Norway. The rocking chairs, trunks, spinning wheels, items now too numerous to recall, but the ghosts, their names, circumstances of deaths are more memorable than my childhood playmates.
Four children dead of typhoid, born in the same years as the first four children in my family, only a century earlier. The next four children born in my ancestor’s family? Same four years as my last four siblings, a century earlier. Eight children in all, 100 years apart. All buried in the family cemetery. The dead ones, in case you are wondering. We occasionally startle the few people in the small rural town when we go to visit and end up with a picnic and birthday party. Yes, in the cemetery. In a family the size of mine, there is always a birthday to celebrate. And if you have been raised with the ghosts, you may as well celebrate with them, too. After all, they haunted my homes, what’s wrong with me popping in for a brief visit?