My grandmother was a large part of my life. I stayed with her and my grandpa during every school break because she spoiled me. There, I was the only child and not one of four, and I loved her crazy stories and jokes. If I was with her, I was happy.
Because my grandpa had such violent nightmares, Granny and I shared her bed, and I became very used to the familiar smell of Ben Gay she used on her arthritic joints. I associated the medicinal odor with her--comforting, warming and safe.
Grandpa was the first to pass away, and Granny moved in with my mother. When Granny went to join Grandpa, I flew down from No. Cal to So. Cal to help my mother with the arrangements. The night after the funeral, Mom and I were upstairs in the loft watching TV and trying to rationalize the loss of someone we both loved so much. For whatever reason, I decided to go downstairs for something, and halfway down, I walked into a wafting cloud of familiarity.
I paused. "Are you using Ben Gay?", I yelled back up to mom.
"No," she answered, with a definite questioning tone.
"Never mind," I called out. How could I explain what I suspected? Would Mom think me daft...I thought I might be. But the smell grew stronger, stealing the existing air around me and replacing it with Granny's nightly odor. I stood and inhaled, puzzled, and frozen in place.
"I smell it, too." I heard Mom say.
I knew then that I wasn't loony. Those same familiar feelings from all my summers of comfort and safety enveloped me, and I knew Granny stopped by to let me know that she was okay and watching over us.
Do I believe in ghosts? Yep. Since then, I sure do.