I saw a ghost yesterday. Lots of them, actually.
Our dear friend Miz Eleanor died nearly a week ago, and yesterday there was a memorial service for her, held in the church I grew up in. The people who loved her, past and present came out of the woodwork to pay their respects to their memories of her and to share them with the others who loved her.
It was rather eerie to sit in the back pew and see the familiar faces getting up to speak at the podium. To see the giant cross hanging over the altar and the stained glass just as beautiful as in years past. To say the Nicene Creed without looking at the book because it was so ingrained those many years ago.
The parents all came out in force. After 34 years, they looked older and maybe a bit shorter, but surprisingly vibrant even after all this time. I guess the stresses of raising teenagers has lifted, leaving them more carefree and happier for having done so successfully. And they looked essentially the same, just a little grayer.
The children of those parents, though... ghosts living in these older bodies. Still the sparkle of the eye and the devilish grins as we played the guessing games of who was who gave them away. A few had changed so much that it wasn't until they spoke that I recognized them.
We have gray hair. And a little extra weight (or sometimes, less than we started out with). There are lines in our faces. Some of us have had cancer or other dire diagnoses and come through to the other side. Some of us have one child, some many and some none at all. Some of us married once, some many times. A few never crossed that line into matrimony. We are electrical engineers, teachers, fundraisers, stay-at-home moms, musicians, writers, business owners, employees. We've scattered all over this country and stayed here where we've been raised.
The ghosts of the past came together yesterday because of one remarkable woman. She was a surrogate mom and caring friend to all of us.
After the service, we gathered in that house we knew so well. Not much seemed to have changed but the configuration of the sectional couch. There were hand rails and grab bars in a few places, but the essence of the place was the same. As were the people. We stood around and talked and drank and it was so much like the Christmas parties of yore that there was the feeling of being thrown back in time.
Miz Eleanor was there... and she definitely approved.