Spooky Story Swap - October 22 from 6:00-8:00
‘Tis the spooky season and time to gather and share our eerie experiences at the Spooky Story Swap. Come tell your story and enjoy some Pedego treats with others who have experienced the unexplained. We’ll gather on Saturday, October 22 from 6:00-8:00 at Pedego Electric Bikes across from Hannaford. This event is free with limited seating - please bring a camping chair. We’re asking you to register here so we can get a headcount.
I hope you enjoyed “Ghost Onboard” from Charles Turek Robinson’s The New England Ghost Files (Covered Bridge Press, 1994). If you missed it, you can read this ghost story in our post entitled, “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
So let’s have another ghost story from The New England Ghost Files. This one takes place in Freeport and is proof that blood is thicker than water...
GHOST FILE #5
“After the Fact”
Location: Freeport, ME
Number of witnesses: 1
Interview date(s): 6/92; 8/93; 2/94
Catherine Tilden, a widow and retired bookkeeper, lives alone in her early 19th century Freeport, Maine, home. The lovely house - a Federal-style residence - was purchased by Catherine’s husband, Biff, in 1946.
After her husband’s death in 1974, Catherine spent the next few years quietly. She devoted most of her time to gardening, painting, and writing. Her three children lived out of state, and she had no other nearby relatives with whom she was close.
“Living by myself in that large house was a bit lonely,” she says. “After several years, I suddenly got a crazy idea. I decided to invite my only sister, Alicia (also a widow), to move here to live with me, because I figured that she was also quite lonely. I say the idea was crazy because Alicia and I had hardly spoken for almost thirty years. We were on very bad terms. But I was lonely, and so was she, so I figured ‘what the heck.’ Not surprisingly, though, Alicia refused my offer. I guess the animosity between us had just become irreversible at that point. When I called her with the idea, she wasn’t receptive at all. There was so much hostility in her voice; it made me feel even lonelier.”
However, about a year and a half later, Catherine indicates, something suddenly changed. She received a surprising phone call from her hostile sister.
“Alicia just called up one day and shocked me by saying that she now wanted to come spend some time with me,” Catherine remembers. “I was stunned, especially considering she had flatly refused my earlier offer. Still, I told her I would love to see her. She only lived forty miles away, and she came to Freeport by taxi that very same day, on March 10 (1978). When I opened the door and laid eyes on her, the feeling was overwhelming. It had been so many years since we had seen each other. We hugged, and I asked her how long she would be staying. She said that she would stay for a week.”
After Alicia arrived, the two women immediately began to get reaquainted. The sisters had experienced a terrible falling out in 1949, and, while Catherine does not like to discuss the conflict in detail, she hints that it had something to do with her father’s will.
“Getting to know one another again was quite wonderful,” Catherine says. “In our stubbornness and animosity, we had missed out on so much concerning each other’s lives. We spent the next week taking walks together on the property, or just sitting and chatting in front of the fireplace in the den, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. Alicia just seemed so eager to make things right again. Her sudden (remorse) seemed, well, so out of character for her.”
During that week, Catherine observes, forgiveness began to replace the former hostility. She indicates that she was actually learning how to love her sister again after all those years. By the end of the week, Catherine truly hoped that Alicia would stay on in the house and live with her permanently.
However, as soon as the reconciliation between her and her sister had solidified, something strange happened. On the morning on March 17, exactly one week after Alicia had arrived, Catherine awoke early and went down to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for her visiting sister. Suddenly, the phone rang. Catherine picked up the receiver, and the caller on the other end was her nephew Joseph, Alicia’s son. He was calling, he explained, to tell Catherine that her sister Alicia had died - exactly one week earlier - of pneumonia.
Immediately, Catherine became light-headed. She felt she was about to faint. This could not be possible, she thought to herself: Her sister Alicia was there with her! She had been staying in the house for the past week!
“You say Alicia died a week ago?” the stunned woman said into the phone.
“Yes,” her nephew replied. “On March 19, a week ago today. She was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery several days ago. I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner, but, well, I know that you and Mom didn’t get along, and Mom had always said that she wouldn’t want you at her funeral. We had to respect her wishes.”
Catherine’s head was still spinning. How could this be? Joseph said that Alicia had died on March 10. But that was the same day she had arrived at Catherine’s home. If her sister died seven days earlier, with whom had she been sharing her house for the past week? Who was the person upstairs in the guest room?
“Would you mind holding the phone?” Catherine nervously said to her nephew, dropping the receiver and dashing upstairs to the guest room. When she entered the room, she found that there was no Alicia, no luggage, no trace that her sister had ever been there.
At that moment, notes Catherine, she was overcome with a sudden sense of indescribable peace and warmth - an “instinctive understanding,” she calls it. She calmly returned to the phone.
“I’m very sorry about your mother,” she said to Joseph. “I do wish that you had called me sooner, but I understand why you didn’t. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please feel free to call...”
Catherine hung up the phone and began to sob. It was now all very clear to her, she says. Alicia died a week earlier but - unable to rest until she had been reconciled with her sister - her spirit had come to make peace.
“This was not a flight of fancy,” Catherine says firmly. “This experience was the most real and profound of my life. I consider myself extremely fortunate. I got a chance to love my sister again. She gave me that chance by caring enough to return after her death to make things right. It all seemed so real during the week she was here...she seemed so real. We walked together, talked together, ate together. But, I can’t deny the truth of the matter: her visit took place after the fact. I suppose that most people would say I had been hallucinating for an entire week. Let them think what they will. After that week, I knew things about Alicia and her family that I couldn’t possibly have known unless she had told me...unless she had been here.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Considering, among other things, Catherine’s markedly apparent sincerity and profound depth of emotion throughout three separate, comprehensive interviews, her account - in the author’s opinion - represents one of the most provoking reports the author has researched to date.
And on a last note from me: Years ago I heard a similar story from one of my best friends. Her long-time friend and housekeeper had reported a visit from her departed husband that lasted 8 hours on the night he died. He appeared perfectly normal and the two sat together at the kitchen table discussing the blessings of their long marriage for hours. Her husband also told her where to find some important papers that she would need to settle their financial affairs. Love never dies...