Confessions of a Ghost Therapist by Cassie Taylor (excerpts)

 

I was chatting with the ghost of a former politician, and a woman popped up and started screaming at him. It was apparent she was his mistress before his unfortunate encounter with an armed and disgruntled constituent. He gave me a frantic look, then he disappeared.

“Come back here, you coward,” she yelled, but he was gone to the other side, the one some call Heaven and others call “the next life.” I personally don’t know, as no ghost has returned to share this with me.

Though I didn’t deserve the credit, I got paid for getting rid of the politician.

Probably a lot of people would like to pay me for getting rid of politicians.

Sorry, folks, I only do it if they’re ghosts.

~~~

Some ghosts are like cats, shy, napping often. Not surprising, considering they don’t have much to do.

Wouldn’t you be bored if you hung around the same place all the time? That’s why I don’t believe in poltergeists.

When something plays tricks in your house, the perpetrator is one of two things: a child or a ghost.

I’d put my money on the ghost.

~~~

The worst ghosts are children. They’re like puppies, so happy to see me, to have someone to talk to. They cling to me.

And the worst part is me wanting to cling back.

The latest was in Northern California, a three-year-old with curls and an angel’s smile. Her ghostly body was bruised, an arm bent, eyes blackened. I researched and found out her mother’s boyfriend beat her to death.

An old story. If you wince when you hear their stories on the nightly news, imagine seeing the injured children with your own eyes. Seeing their confusion, sadness and grief.

When I finally convince them it’s okay to leave, I’m smiling and crying at the same time. They take a piece of my heart with them.

~~~

I’m often asked if I’ve ever run into any malevolent spirits. Of course I have. Percentage-wise, there are probably as many spiteful dead people as live people. In addition, almost every dead person I’ve met has died before his or her time. Some didn’t die from accidents. You know what that means.

Murder.

One particularly malicious spirit comes to mind. I won’t say his name, but his daughter killed him. She’d found out he was raping his twelve-year-old granddaughter—who also happened to be his biological daughter.

The daughter was never charged. Some people called that politics on the D.A.’s part, but I wish more elected officials were that sensible.

Face it. Some people deserve to die.

~~~

When Bob and Linda said they were in love forever, they meant it. Too bad Linda’s husband Howard meant it when he vowed “Till death do we part.” Catching the two lovers together, he shot them with his deer-hunting rifle.

The retired teacher who bought Bob’s house said she wouldn’t mind sharing the home with the two lovers if their faces didn’t have grapefruit-sized holes. Since Bob and Linda refused to leave earth, afraid they wouldn’t be together in Heaven—or Hell—I convinced them they had the power to change their appearance.

This solution pleased the former teacher and thrilled the couple. In a follow-up interview, the teacher said the couple danced around the house like teenagers and were a joy to watch. She’d been thinking about getting a dog for companionship, but decided to stick with Bob and Linda. They didn’t require trips to the vet or have potty issues.

~~~

Unlike people, most pets don’t stick around earth after they pass away. So when a family called me, frantic because their house was haunted by a cat, I was skeptical. The few animals I’ve known who refused to leave were all dogs. They’re the loyal ones. That’s not saying cats aren’t loyal. They’re totally dedicated—to themselves.

It was August, a slow time for me, so I took a jaunt over to Massachusetts. When the cat’s ghost wouldn’t come near me, at first I thought it was displaying the attitude thing cats do so well. But it kept meowing, a plaintive Come-and-get-me sound. When I found out the family had new siding put on a week earlier, it wasn’t hard to figure out what happened.

The siding company came in ninety minutes. A gaunt cat was out in another ten minutes. Two weeks later, I received a photo of a cat sitting on a windowsill, enjoying the August sunlight. Although it was a marmalade tabby, the family named it Spook.

~~~

Some ghosts have last wishes. They bargain with me. If I do something for them, they’ll leave earth. One I took to a baseball game. One I took to an opera. Yes, they can go by themselves, but the thing is, most ghosts don’t know this. And I’m not telling them. They might never leave.

One ghost I took to Madison Square Garden to see Barbra Streisand. I got the best tickets in the place, paying through my client’s nose. That’s right. My client paid. One of the perks of the job.

Barbra was fabulous. The ghost left with a smile. I left with a smile. The only one not smiling was the client.

Some days I love my job.

~~~

One ghost’s stomachache killed him. Literally. He didn’t go to the emergency room because his insurance didn’t cover it. His appendix burst, causing infection and shortly after, death.

The home he was sticking around wasn’t his family’s, it was the CEO of his insurance company. When I found this out, I wished the ghost happy haunting, returned the advance the CEO’s wife paid me, and left.

Sometimes money isn’t everything. Sometimes justice is.

~~~

Ghosts can turn back the virtual clock. I met an eighty-year-old ghost who looked like a WWII pin-up. Her youthful beauty was one reason she didn’t want to leave earth.

Ghosts take into death the baggage they shouldered in life. Vanity killed her. Well, vanity and stinginess. She was having her sixth facelift in a Bahamas’ clinic by a doctor who got his degree over the internet. The result was her premature death, the doctor’s flight to Brazil, and her ghostly appearance at her son’s Cape Cod home.

Her daughter-in-law, a seventh-grade English teacher who eschewed makeup, didn’t appreciate her mother-in-law’s lectures about her wardrobe and cosmetic choices. Her son didn’t appreciate her comments about his eating choices.

By telling her that everyone in Heaven looks like a movie star, I convinced her to leave.

Don’t ask how I know this, because I made it up. I’d like to believe when we pass over to the Afterlife, Heaven or wherever, we won’t care what we look like. If we do care, it would be too much like being live people again.

~~~

Heaven. Everyone asks me about it. Is it a kingdom in the clouds? Are the streets paved with gold? Can we eat all the chocolate and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream we want?

I wish I could tell you. I have no idea what heaven is like. Apparently, it’s such a great place no one comes back to tell me about it. Not even with a polite, “Hey, thanks, you’ve steered me to the right place.” It’s as if they bought a one-way ticket on the Eden Express, and there’s no return flight.

Perhaps it’s me. My gift is talking to dead people. Other people claim the gift of talking to souls who transitioned to the other side. They take messages and give cryptic words of advice.

Sometimes people ask if these soul talkers are the real deal. Who knows? I certainly don’t. There are weird people in this world. I’m one of them.

~~~

I haven’t met one dead person who worries about their computer. The promotion given to a less qualified co-worker doesn’t matter. They stop looking at clocks or dates on the calendar. Time doesn’t stop, it just doesn’t matter, it doesn’t exist.

But some things do matter. Of course, families and friends are most important. After that, there’s TV shows, books, music. They want to know what happened on their favorite shows after they left.

One ghost promised to leave after I played all the Soprano tapes. Another ghost requested that I read her the sequel to BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY—then complained about my accent. When I rented the audio book, she listened to it and said the book wasn’t as good as the first one.

This was a woman whose husband killed her after forty years of marriage. Afterward, he told a reporter that living in prison was more pleasant than living with his wife.

What they all like is the music from their era. Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett are a few of the top requests, but there is also Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, the Motown greats, the Beatles…

The favorite, hands down, is the King. Elvis. Women in their eighties giggle like girls when they hear his music. Elvis the Pelvis they call him.

I love it when dead women request him. I tell them he’s in Heaven waiting to see his fans. For all I know, maybe he is.

If so, he’s surrounded by a lot of elderly women.

~~~

Every once a while parents bring their children to me, excited because they’ve exhibited an extraordinary talent. At first I envied these children their supportive families, even though only one turned out to be a true ghost whisperer. Then I realized the parents wanted to exploit these children. They wanted to put them on “Good Morning America” or “The View.” One parent was already planning a reality show. Some, I believe, would be happy with “American’s Funniest Videos.”

Naturally, the children wouldn’t go on these shows alone. Mom and Dad would be by their sides. A TV appearance would be proof they achieved the American dream. Proof that their children were important. Proof that they were important.

No, I told them and now I’m telling you, reader. What’s important is giving your child love and support and, if necessary, therapy.

A child’s dream isn’t to appear on national TV. A child’s dream is to be normal and have friends.

~~~

Since every dead person I’ve met has departed this earth before their time, via accidents or murder, you probably think he or she would want the person responsible to suffer an appropriate punishment. So far, I haven’t met one revenge-seeking dead person.

Don’t get me wrong, dead people harbor anger. But usually it’s the same whiny anger live people have. Remembered slights from childhood are common, but the worst rancor is reserved for parents. I’ve met a few who didn’t want to pass to the other side because they refused to see a parent again.

When they tell me their stories, -I don’t blame them. But I do tell them that in Heaven they don’t have to see anyone they don’t want to.

Unless you’re skipping pages, you know I’m making that up. But in my opinion, if that isn’t true, Heaven would be called Hell.

~~~

Dead people are proof that love exists…and sometimes never dies. I got a hysterical phone call from a newly married corporate vice-president, begging me to come as soon as possible. When I arrived at his house, I discovered from his lovely wife that neither she nor her two children from a previous marriage had seen the ghost, just the husband.

The odd thing is that the husband claimed the ghost came with the new wife. From the worried looks the wife exchanged with her two well-behaved teenage sons, it was apparent they questioned the husband’s mental health.

I get that a lot, and was not surprised to meet the dead person the next day. However, I was surprised to see a resemblance between the dead person and the two sons. When I questioned him, he said he was their father. He had died in an industrial accident four years previously. He’d been watching over his wife and children ever since, but hadn’t let them see him as he wanted them to get on with their lives. The only times he showed himself to the second husband were when he lost his temper and spoke cuttingly to the wife and sons, something that apparently happened too often.

When I told the wife what her late husband said, she broke into tears. The next day, while her executive husband was at work, she packed up and moved with her children to a different state. The following Christmas I received a card with a photo of the wife and the two boys. She wrote a note saying there was another member of the family in the photo, but he didn’t show up on film.

~~~

One year I surveyed the dead people I met. Before they passed, 67% were Democrats. 29% Republicans. Most of the rest belonged to the Don’t-give-a-damn party.

I did this out of curiosity. It’s not a scientific study, especially as the most respected scientists don’t believe dead people (a.k.a. ghosts) exist.

I don’t know what this means. Once I read that Democrats in political office were more likely to get in trouble over sex, while Republicans were more likely to get in trouble over money. The reporter concluded that Republicans were richer, but Democrats had more fun.

Since my ghosts that year included an unusually high percentage of murdered people, perhaps my informal study shows Democrats are more likely to get murdered. Just for fun, I did a cross survey on the known murderers. 78% were more likely to consider him or herself Republican. So my conclusion is Republicans are richer and more lethal than Democrats.

~~~

Older ghosts are more articulate than newer ones. The new ghosts are feeling their way around inside their new un-bodies. Imagine going through a horrific death—a car wreck, a tornado, a knife in the back. These aren’t pretty ways to die.

It’s my theory that people who die slowly—the kind we all wish we never go through—are more likely to welcome death, to be at peace with it. The dead people I meet are anything but peaceful. One moment they’re alive, the next…not alive. Their shell, their physical identity, gone.

Slowly, they learn how to gather ectoplasm and gain enough power to don that body again. Like a set of clothes they take on or off at will.

It’s distracting when they learn they can make themselves look younger. One dead woman looked younger, thinner and prettier every time I saw her. When I was shown photos of her when she was younger, I was astounded how much uglier she was alive than dead.

I call this ectoplasmic air brushing.

~~~

CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2010. EDIE RAMER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED