Is this a fictional story about non-fictional people and places?
That depends on whether or not you believe in ghosts.
Lonesome was a faithful companion, hunter and all around helper! He loved his master more than any animal could love a human! Why he not only helped his master by bringing him his carpentry tools, when the children were young he used to keep an eye on them while they played in the backyard as his master cared for the other farm animals. Lonesome's master loved all his animals at the farm. Man oh man he loved them so much that he even gave his life for them when the barn caught fire in the early 30's. But, that we will talk about later on.
What about the ghosts you say? Well, let's say ghost! But, first let me tell you a little about me. I am the caretaker of the Cannon-Maston property where two very old houses are. The house that I live in was built in 1912. A man that lived in the other one built it. That house was built in the early 1700's. The property is about an acre and a half in size and is surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland.
There are lines of trees across from the farmland, which make for some woods where many wild creatures both small and fairly large live.
I began caring for the property several months ago. I clean and trim and mow and do some minor repairs as needed to either or both houses.
When I first came to the property I looked around and made many discoveries about the people and animals that had lived there in the past. I learned so much about the families in the past that I felt like I knew them very well. One particular family member touched my heart more than the rest. This was Lonesome...
Lonesome was so much more than just a family pet. He was a member of the family. He did just as much as everyone else to earn his keep. Lonesome cost his master 50 muskrat pelts a goose and about twenty pounds of deer meat. He was the last pup born in a litter of seven. In most litters the last pup is usually the runt. This wasn't the case for Lonesome. He was the largest pup to be born. Lonesome's feet seemed almost as big as his head. His ears could cover his whole face. His tail, wow, it seemed to be very long for a puppy!
What'd you say? Oh, if Lonesome lived so long ago how do I know so much about him? Well, he told me! But do animals talk? I'm sure when you come home to your pets after being at work or school all day you know just what they are saying. But that's not really talking is it?
Let me try to explain this to you. When I became the caretaker of the property and houses the nights were so beautiful... and they still are... The night sky is so clear that you can see thousands and thousands of stars.
One night I was out in the backyard after a long day and I sat in a chair and looked up at the sky.
I was counting my blessings and felt a nudge at my leg. That was when I met Lonesome! I reached down and scratched him on his head between his ears. "Are you lost?" I asked. I really wasn't expecting an answer. He sat down and rested his head and one paw on my leg. "You look sad and lonesome." I said. His ears perked up and his tongue wagged out of his mouth. "Lonesome, is that your name?" I asked. It seemed as if he shook his head yes. I scratched his head again and he stood up. Lonesome turned and walked toward the field of wheat. I blinked, as he seemed to disappear near the out building.
I got out of my chair and walked over to the corner of the out building where a large rock and three smaller ones marked a grave for an animal. They were shaped like a paw print.
I saw what appeared to be a small door. I flipped it over. A nameplate was screwed to the door. It said "LONESOME".
I trembled a little, as goose bumps seemed to trail up and down my arms. After that night Lonesome the dog came to visit me quite regularly. All I really had to do was to call his name and he would come galloping from near the out building. Lonesome had a story to tell and I felt lucky to be the one he chose to tell his story.
It was a rough day for me as I settled down in my chair in the backyard. No matter to whom I talked to that day it seemed as if everyone was having a bad day. I ended up being a sounding board all day long for everybody! If it wasn't the economy it was about family troubles. I was exhausted! I sipped a late night cup of coffee and closed my eyes. I took a deep breath and exhaled a sigh of relief. A cool evening breeze was blowing gently and carried with it the scent of pine. I felt a slight chill as a cold wet nose touched the back of my hand. It was Lonesome. "Hey boy how are yah!" I asked. He nudged his head under my hand and looked up at me with his sad eyes. "I had a rough day today." I said. I scratched his head and sipped on my coffee. It really didn't seem weird after a while. I mean having a ghost come to visit me. When I petted him he always seemed as real as any other dog that I ever petted. As I petted Lonesome I closed my eyes and enjoyed the scent of pine. "So you had a bad day huh?" A voice asked. I opened my eyes and sat up. I looked around and only saw Lonesome. I stared at him closely and then I heard in my mind, "Yup its me, Lonesome. I'm talkin' to you the same way you know how any pet needs something, in your mind." He said. I was a little shocked by this. Then again if Lonesome was a ghost who's to say he could or couldn't talk either out loud or in my head, right? I sat back and spoke to Lonesome, "You're a dog, what do you know about having a bad day?" Lonesome spoke with a slight country drawl and seemed to put all his words well placed. "Well," he said. "Let me tell you about when I was a pup!"
"The day my master brought me home I was almost three months old. I still hadn't grown into my feet and ears yet and my tail was quite long. I was a yipping and a yapping as I followed him out to the barn. I barreled along and tripped over my ears and slid nose first under the fence into the hog pen. What a mess I was in. The hogs weren't very happy with me either. When the biggest one charged and squealed at me I took off as fast as I could. Why I was even kicking up mud in his face. I got out under the fence and ended up rolling head over heels and landed just in time to look up as one of the horses began to piddle all over me. I got out of there as fast as I could. I followed my master over to the barn where he began milking the cow. He thought I wanted some milk and squirted me on my nose. It tasted good. I wasn't watching where I was placing my tail and the cow stepped right on it! I let out a yelp so loud it scared the cow and she kicked the bucket of milk and my master fell off his stool. Later that day he wasn't happy at all as he bathed me. Why, he said things I never heard before. When he dried me off he let me sit in his lap and I fell asleep as he scratched my head. That was one of the worst days of my young life that I ever had. When it was all over I realized that my master really loved me and I was in a good home."
"Hmm..." I said. I guess I couldn't compete with that. Lonesome went on to tell me more about his young life and having to deal with the children pulling his tail and playing dress up with him. Sometimes thinking about others difficulties makes our own seem not so bad. I patted Lonesome and waved as I went into the house.
My day was ending and I was looking forward to my late night, soothing cup of coffee. As my wife played with the grandchildren while she was preparing them to spend the night, I slipped out the back door with my cup. I looked up and took in a deep breath of air. I yawned. As I breathed out I squealed a little as sometimes happens when a person yawns. I sat down in my chair and sipped a little coffee. I could see in the window as grandma chased the children around in play. I looked at the plate on my truck. It says, "GRANDPA".
I was very content with life that day.
Lonesome came out from the out building and paused to look at some fireflies. He lay in the grass and seemed to be hypnotized as they flew from one piece of grass to another. I got up from my chair and went over to Lonesome and sat in the grass next to him. I petted him from his ears to his tail. He looked at me and yawned. I wanted to ask him some questions about why he chose me as the one that he visited and spoke to. Lonesome asked me a question first. "Do you remember your mother?" he asked. A tear began to form in my left eye. "Yah." I said. "When someone goes away and we are close to them, they never really die." Lonesome said. "They are kept in our memories and the love we had for them keeps them alive!" I wiped my eyes and nose. Lonesome got up and walked across the back yard over to the west field. "Look out on the field" he said.
At first I didn't see anything. Then Lonesome licked my hand. I looked out over the field again. It seemed as though a fog was lifting and it was bright out in one section of the field. There was a man on a tractor harvesting the wheat. "That was my master," he said. "I have never forgotten him or his love for me. I keep him alive in my memory." I was slightly confused on how a ghost could be a ghost and have memories, and how a ghost could only be a ghost if there was someone that believed in the ghost. If no one believed then there would be no purpose for a ghost. Lonesome could see the confusion in my face and went on to explain why he chose to show such things to me and why he revealed himself to me.
Animals are able to sense a good person. They can even tell when someone who is being good to them is a bad person. I suppose when I first came to this property several months ago and was nosing around I must have disturbed either an artifact or Lonesome's gravesite. Lonesome began to tell me that he could sense the energy of someone that cared. He said that some how he felt that I was connected to the greater scheme of things, that I was a part of nature and a part of a past that has long since gone on. For just a minute I was at a loss for words. I have always felt that I was either born at the wrong time or place. Somewhere in my spirit I have always felt that I belonged to the past. Now, mind you, I'm not a believer in re-incarnation. I know that my family has been traced back several hundred years and that includes Native Americans. Being one with the earth and nature has always fascinated me. I never expected to become one with the energies of the past.
Lonesome told me that it was now my turn to carry on the memories of the past, this past, a past that may soon be forgotten. I was to carry on the energy that was soon to die off completely. He explained to me that when a past dies off completely then the land that is tied to that past becomes barren. If this land was to become barren then it's history would also pass away. All that ever was would end up gone, lost and with out any sense or reason for happening.
The night's darkness again took over the field. Lonesome walked over to my chair and put one paw on the seat while looking at me. I sat down and he placed his head in my lap. "You know what I really miss though?" Lonesome asked. I shook my head no and he slid his head under my hand. He seemed to smile as he looked up at me while I scratched between his ears.
Lonesome and I have become really close to each other as the days turned into weeks. It was as if we both needed each other. One of those nights as I come home very late, I didn't go outside to the backyard. I was tired and didn't even have my late night cup of coffee. I went up the narrow dark stairway to my room.
I removed my last sock and slowly sank into the king-size bed next to my wife. As my head hit the pillow I was expecting to gently fall off to a much-needed sleep. Well, that didn't happen! As soon as my head hit the pillow I was wide-awake. I stared into the darkness up at the ceiling. The wind was blowing rather hard and the house creaked, as it seemed to be settling with age. The curtains flapped in the breeze and my wife tossed and turned, as she seemed to sleep comfortably. I could hear the broken lightning rod banging softly on the roof. The trees next to the house were moving just enough to trip the motion sensor lights. I could smell the fresh cut fields with each flap of the curtains. I became restless and annoyed to the fact that I couldn't sleep. I made my way back down stairs to the bathroom. After washing my hands I peered down the long hallway at the front door.
It sounded as though someone was knocking. The only light on after I turned off the bathroom light was the motion light outside the front porch. I made my way past the basement door and the three empty bedrooms on the right. I turned the blinds open and saw the tree next to the front door banging on the house. "That's one I need to trim," I thought to myself. I closed the blinds and carefully made my way down the dark hallway to the kitchen door on the right next to the bathroom. I opened the door. It was very dark! I turned on the light and began to heat some water for a coffee.
I heard something banging at the backdoor. It had begun to rain and the screen door was not closed properly. The door just kept opening and closing on it's own. Being in such and old house I knew that there would always be some strange noise that I would have to investigate so my wife could be at peace and live comfortably. I secured the door and finished making my coffee. I was thinking of taking my cup back up to bed and drink it there. I suddenly heard a strange noise that came from the basement. I quietly and slowly opened the door.
I could tell that a light was on. I went to the bottom of the stairs and looked around. This basement was a full sized basement. It stretched the full length of the house and was over six feet in depth. I looked over toward the light and saw Lonesome huddled at the feet of his family.
His master was holding his wife and children. The children were scared of the storm. "Families become closer in hard times and fear!" Lonesome exclaimed. "That was the worst storm that we faced together. We lost two thirds of our crop and had to live by what my master had canned for the winter. It seemed as though the wild animals moved on to another area. Hunting and trapping didn't yield much at all. My master had to butcher the milking cow. The chickens didn't lay eggs for almost two months!"
I walked over to the family and stood next to them. I could sense the love that held the family together. "Winter was just as tough." Lonesome said. "There were many nights that my master and his wife went to bed hungry. They always made sure the children were fed." I reached out to touch the family and it became dark in the basement. The rain had stopped and the wind died down. I carefully followed the light at the stairs that was coming from the kitchen. I looked down at the basement before closing the door. Lonesome disappeared through the door leading out of the basement to the back yard.
I closed the door and went up to bed. My head hit my pillow and I fell fast asleep.
As the weeks went by I was able to sense a little more of the past, this past. Each day the land and the house and family became more of a part of me. I was seeing and experiencing more and more. It sometimes seemed as if I walked right through some kind of time portal into another man's life.
As my week began to wind down and my weekend was beginning, I arrived home like I usually did. I slowly drove down the long driveway.
Upon reaching the backyard my truck seemed to transform from a late model to one from the late 20's. The night turned to day rather quickly and for a brief moment everything went from color to all gray and then back to color again! I stopped and looked out in front of me. Through the windshield I could see that the backyard was full of people.
Old, young and the very young were there. I saw Lonesome playing with the children. He was so happy! There was some kind of party or family gathering. It looked like a reunion of sorts.
Someone was cooking fish on the old brick grill.
Two rather old but kindly looking fellows were tossing horseshoes. Several ladies all dressed up sat under a covering that stretched over a couple of long tables. Croquet and badminton occupied several young men and women. Three men were sitting in chairs near the back porch. One had a ukulele and one had a violin. The other man was scratching a washboard. I was amazed at all the activity!
I was startled when someone tapped on my window. It was Lonesome's master. He opened the door of the truck and had a big smile on his face. He reached out to shake my hand, welcome me and thank me for coming. I got out of my truck. I stammered and said, "I, I um, I didn't bring anything." He smiled and said, "You're a guest here, welcome friend." I said, "I'm not from around here and I'm not sure I belong." He took me off to the side and spoke quietly. "Look here." He said. "We all know you and this gathering is for you!" "But how?" I asked. "My family and I saw you in the basement." He said. "We have been watching you since you first came here." "Um..." I said. "Don't worry, we have respected your privacy." He said. "In life we all have had our fair share of difficulties and such. All of us here are celebrating because of you! Even though we have all long since past on, we can rest peacefully knowing our lives and the memory of our lives will continue to thrive through you. Many of us are waiting for our chance to tell you our stories."
We walked over to the grill and he made me a plate of food. Everything had texture and even taste. The food was so full of robust flavor. I was led around to meet all of the people there. They all called me by name. For a brief moment I wasn't sure of my own sanity. Everything was real! Everything I touched, smelled and ate was just as real as when I'm, well, as when I'm alive and in my own time. If that makes any sense at all! I shook hands with many of the fellows and hugged many of the ladies. One of the children brought me a peach.
One young lady handed me a ring. It was nothing more than a simple band. She curtsied, nodded her head and walked away. One strange looking old fellow came behind me and handed me a small jar of water. He sure was smiling big. I took a drink and lost my breath! That wasn't water! I sat down in a chair and Lonesome came over and rested his head on my leg. "Remember these things that you have seen here today." He said. I scratched his head and dozed off.
My wife touched my face and asked me what I had in my hands. I told her it was just some things I had found as I walked around the property. I had in my hands a small glass jar, a ring and a peach! She didn't ask me about the peach. I got up from the chair and followed her into the house. I stopped briefly to touch my truck. I turned around in time to see Lonesome disappear by the out building. Once in the house I went down into the basement and placed the jar and the ring on a shelf at the back of the basement. There is an old mirror hanging on the wall of the basement. I briefly looked into the mirror and I saw myself still dressed from the late twenties.
I looked down at myself and saw I was still in my uniform from work. Once back upstairs I started to heat water for a cup of coffee.
I had been asleep for a few hours when I awoke to what I thought was one of the cats yowling for some reason. I tried to go back to sleep only to be further annoyed by a louder yowl. I sat up and saw both cats on the bed next to me. My wife was out of town visiting family so I knew it wasn't her. Again I heard what now sounded like a woman crying. I made my way down stairs and turned on the kitchen light. I walked through the kitchen and dining room to the living room. Lonesome was at the feet of a young woman rocking in a chair while holding two small black and white photos on some kind of metal photo paper.
In one of the photos was a small toddler girl about three years old and the other photo was of a young boy around two years old. She was crying and clutching the photos close to her breast. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes... The sadness was so overpowering in the room that the room temperature must have dropped fifteen degrees! There were shadows of darkness that loomed from the ceiling and seemed to hang down as if draping a forbidden area. The young woman began to hum softly. After a few moments she spoke.
"Cry for the children for they are not here.
Cry for the children hold back not a tear.
My sadness and sorrow so heavy I'm weak.
They are not here nor where I did seek.
Cry for the children, who in the yard were at play.
Cry for the children, who in the yard did not stay.
The blood on the ground... the torn hat and dress,
Cry for the children... 'Twas nothing but mess.
I fear they've been dragged away and eaten.
I swore if I found them I'd give them a beaten.
Cry for the children they never returned,
Cry for the children their things I did burn.
My pain tore me down so far and so low,
My soul and my heart were ever in tow.
I fell so far my life I did take,
Cry for the children and not for my sake."
I reached out to hold her hand and comfort her. She just faded away. Two photos were in the rocking chair. I picked them up and I could feel the heaviness of her loss. For a brief moment... I cried.
I sat in the chair and rocked. Lonesome looked at me and told me that sometimes we tend to block out our bad memories of the past and only remember the good ones. Our lives are made up of good times and bad. This is what makes us who we are. The young woman never overcame her sorrows. I asked, "What did happen to the children that day?" Lonesome said at one time many years ago that coyotes roamed the area. It was believed that a pack came into the yard and dragged off the children. Their mother had only stepped away for a few short moments. I scratched Lonesome and patted him. I got up from the chair and went outside to the backyard. I saw the children playing with their mother. I saw her get up and walk away. A pack of coyotes came out from the field. I ran to chase them away. I couldn't because these were shadows of the past. Oh, the cry of the children as they were dragged off. Their mother returned. I held her in my arms as she cried. In her hands she clutched a small hat and a torn piece of dress.
As I moved some boxes into and empty bedroom a chill touched the back of my neck. A large mirror hanging on the closet door glinted a vision of beauty.
Her hand upon my neck she swung herself around. She placed her other hand on my cheek and looked deep into my eyes. Her long black hair fell beyond her waist. Her smile of love turned to sadness. She spoke,
"Oh, you are not he for that my heart longs.
Now I still feel all sadness in my songs."
"For as the sun arose and the light filled my room,
I waited for my love, as does my empty womb.
Where are the hands that do caress,
And where is he soothed by my breast?
Mirror in hand my beauty for him,
A stroll or a ride or a romp on a whim.
Together with him I'm ever complete.
We lay under the stars in a field of wheat.
His warmth next to me I tremble with delight.
In his gentleness I put up no fight.
I'm never afraid where he takes his love,
Beyond the heavens soaring far above.
Stay with me a little longer, don't go.
Your soul in mine I'll never say no!
As his hands they travel my slender frame,
He whispers so gently to me, my name.
Glinting in moonlight his beads of sweat,
I wipe with my hands, his brow so wet.
He looks deep in my eyes and can feel my heart.
Our breathing the same please lets never part.
His head on my breast, my hands through his hair.
For a moment together we both gasp for air...
That night long since gone my love off to war,
He never returned my heart ever sore.
Each morning I wake the light fills my room.
I wait for my love, as does my empty womb."
Her hands upon my face she looked deep into my eyes... I felt her love and the love she lost. Her broken heart and sadness filled my soul. She turned away and walked into the mirror.
I have had many encounters over these several months with many visitors of this history's past. Every sound I hear and every movement from the corner of my eyes I quickly go to investigate. My soul has become richer in gratefulness to be filled with the past memories of so many wonderful people and their lives. I greet everyone not with having been startled or scared but with compassion and warmth.
I have met with sadness and with fear. I have met with happiness and gratefulness. I have never met with anyone who had unfinished business nor have I met anyone with anger and violence. Everyone has a story to tell that highlights their lives and leaves them as being known for what their legacy was in life. Everyone that I have met has been grateful that their lives could continue to live on through the memories they had passed on. The stories in this book are just a small part of what has taken place over nine generations and over three hundred years.
The question still stands; do you believe in ghosts? What are ghosts? I have come to understand what ghosts are! I have come to understand what ghosts are not! Ghosts may startle us at times, but they are not here to scare us! Ghosts are merely souls of the past that have a story to tell and wish to never be forgotten. The next time you see a ghost or think you did... be sure to tell them that you are ready to listen and wish to carry on their memory so they will never die and the land of their history will never be barren.
Lonesome came to me from that mirror in the bedroom. He was very sad. He told me of the love he had for his master and how sad he felt when his master died in the arms of his wife. We walked to the backyard and he proceeded to tell me about his master. His master was in the field when lightning struck the barn and it caught on fire. The lightning traveled horizontally and struck one of the lightning rods of the house and broke it.
Frantically Lonesome's master got to the barn and began chasing the animals out. As the last one exited, his master just made it away from the barn and into his wife's arms. She could see the sadness in his eyes that he felt knowing that his time was over and she would be alone. There in her arms his life ended and her heart broke...
Lonesome hung his head low to the ground and dragged his long tail behind him. He walked out by the out building near his grave. He turned to look at me one last time and faded into the darkness...
This story and pictures are the sole property and rights of Pernell R. Rodocker said writer of this story and photographer of said photos. The peach was good by the way!
Tuesday, June 02, 2009