It’s not often that people are referred to the president of a Spiritualist church by the Samaritans, but the lady on the phone told me she’d got my name from them one Spring day in 1980. The lady, Jan C, had a neighbour who was distressed because she believed her house was being haunted.
That an army married quarter in Tidworth – a house built only a dozen years earlier – should be haunted, I thought unusual. And anyway, that wasn’t my line of country. But as Jan’s story unfolded, the problem seemed a little less primitive than the usual ‘bumps in the night’ variety.
The neighbour, Wendy V, was awakened each morning by a distinct tap on her shoulder. Now, what I call ‘the Barbanell doctrine’ says, “Never accept a psychic explanation for an event, until all the rational ones have been investigated.” As her infantry trooper husband was on exercise in Cyprus for a six-month spell, my first thought was that Wendy’s problem was an emotional one. But there were other features. Notably, in the night, her four-and-a-half year old daughter kept crying out, “There’s a man in my room.” And she could see him whilst she was fully awake. Also, a depressing atmosphere pervaded the house, which even Jan C could feel on entering her friend’s home.
The following week, I called at the house with my wife, Karen, who is a clairaudient medium. The door opened to reveal the stairs behind Wendy and her daughter, Kirsty, who sat about six steps up, watching us smilingly. She was so pretty that we wondered for a moment if she was real. She was ushered up to her room and Wendy, who was a very shy lady, told us much what Jan C had already related.
I started counselling her in a fairly amateur way, just to get things moving, and after a moment or two, noticed that Karen’s attention had drifted away from the conversation. She motioned me to shut up and let the expert take over.
She spoke to Wendy. “Has the little girl got a grandfather in spirit life?” she asked.
“Do you mean dead?” Wendy asked, somewhat darkly. Karen nodded. “Yes,” answered Wendy.
“I’ve got a short man here in his mid-fifties.” “He was 56.”
“He was very wiry and energetic.” “Yes, that would be him.”
“I feel he died from a cancer condition, but the passing seems almost too quick for that.” “It was cancer, but he did go downhill very rapidly.” It transpired that his passing occurred just ten days after diagnosis.
“I feel he worked in the catering industry?” “Yes, in a hotel kitchen.”
“He had tattoos on both his arms.” “Yes.”
“And he had a violent, even vicious, side to him.” “He had, but never to me and the baby, as Kirsty was then.”
Wendy V explained that Kirsty was the child of her previous relationship, born before she met her husband, and she had lived with Kirsty’s father until his violence became too much. The grandfather had often defended Wendy against his son.
Karen continued, “Look, I feel there is someone the grandfather is concerned about who has a serious illness about him.”
“Yes, that’s possible,” Wendy responded, “I went back home to Gloucester last weekend and bumped into my former partner’s mother for the first time in three years. She told me something had been found on his lung, but no one knows what it is.”
“He’s telling me there had been some trouble about his son’s access to his daughter,” said Karen. It turned out that Wendy had indeed been successful in denying the natural father access to his daughter.
“This is why he is here,” Karen stated. As in life, the grandfather was acting as a go-between. “He wants you to permit access to Kirsty. Whether you do or not is for you to decide. I cannot advise you one way or the other. But if the father is ill, it could be his last chance to see her – and for her to meet him – on this side of life.”
At this point, Karen excused herself and went into the kitchen, as she needed to talk to the grandfather privately. She would have felt silly in the living room, talking to somebody whom nobody else could see. He had got his message through, she told him, and was only causing distress by repeatedly coming back. Karen told me later that he was a very strong character – quite intimidating – so she’d had to match that strength, which was how she got through.
Wendy had quickly grasped the situation. She thanked us and said she would get in touch with the family in Gloucester.
A week later, I phoned Jan C, as she was the one with the telephone. I was told that Kirsty had had no more nightmares, nor had Wendy been disturbed. The atmosphere had completely changed since Karen’s dialogue with the grandfather.
Nine out of ten ‘hauntings’ turn out to have a normal explanation, but on occasion they can be the spirit of a loved one who still cares, making whatever announcements of his presence he can. Unless someone comes along who is sensitive enough to articulate his message in our world, most of these promptings go unheeded. Fortunately, such was not the case in this instance.
Kirsty would now be in her mid-thirties. I like to think she carries with her happy memories of a father she actually met in person, rather than through old photographs. If so, it was all because of a spirit message from a grandfather who still cared.