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Ghosts on the Ceiling

I was born on March 30, 1947 in Rochester New, York. I came to live in my grandmother’s house, where my dad and uncle grew up. The house was on Whiteford Road and my grandmother, “Nana” lived across the street. There were aunts, uncles, and cousins who also lived on this road. My Nana was born on March 30, 1886, and since we shared

a birthday and the fact I was her first grandchild, we loved each other very much. I always felt safe and cared for on this street.


My Nana was a widow and for many years she worked as head of nursing in the Rochester State mental hospital. She was a force of nature at 4’11” tall. They called her “Tiny” but I have been told that she was tough and and some of the older folks told me they still shook at the thought of disappointing her. For me, Nana was perfect.

At approximately 6 years of age, my family moved to a larger house in Brighton, New York, a suburb of Rochester. I still saw my Nana every week and I learned how to call her on the telephone. Nana was a convert to Catholicism and took great interest in my upcoming Holy Communion. In fact she sat next to me during the ceremony. We shared many whispering words to each other during my first communion. It seemed I was talking too much and she put her finger to her lips to quiet me. The only problem, she had died several months before my big event and I continued to see her for many years to come...

I moved to Washington state in the 70s, by the 80s I had a full family of five children. Like my Nana, I had a husband, Tom Neville, who passed away very early. By the late 2000s most of my family was away to work and in college. My house in the Lakewood/Seward Park neighborhood felt too large for me. I considered a condo but realized I didn’t really like sharing very much, so I changed my home into a duplex and had created a small cottage house in the lower part of my historic home. I lived very close to work and I often went home for lunch. (I was still wearing high heels at the time.)

In the little house, I had a lovely claw foot tub with a large shelf next to it. I always had flowers and art near the tub. But sometimes I would leave my purse on the shelf. I did forget my purse one day and ran back to the house to get it. I was in quite a rush. I stepped into the tub with my heels on, grabbed my purse and went to get out and fell flat on my face onto the concrete floor... I couldn’t move and still do not know if I was conscious or not. While laying face down on the floor, I heard two people talking and recognized their voices.

“What is she doing now?,” Nana said. A low male voice replied, “she is something

of a klutz.” That was Tom. I was getting very annoyed with them talking about

me, and they said together, “Joan! You need to get up now!” I did get up and saw

Nana them clear as day. Tom was sitting up on the ceiling on the left part of the tub and

Nana was on the right side. It was like a Mary Poppins tea in the ceiling story but there was no tea. They kept on laughing at me. I got up, called the medics, and ended

up in the hospital. My head looked like a pumpkin and my face bruised. The worst

part of it for me was they kept laughing. I did know that both of them loved me

and I loved each of them very much, but really, their laughing was troublesome. So

ends my ghosts in the ceiling story!


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