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Quest For The Afterlife - part 5

Updated on July 22, 2012

Into the Past

When my grandfather died he left behind a mountain of organized.........stuff. Nana didn't know what to do with it all so we chose to have a huge garage sale to reduce the mountain to a mere hill. Amongst his papers we found a the story of his family dating back to 1738 when the first ancestor came to Pennsylvania. It's a history rich with frontier forts, Indian massacres, and towns being formed and named after relatives. I decided to carry on with the project he had begun.

The only official records we had prior to the 1790 census were from court documents outlining real estate purchases and transfers and will abstracts. There had been questions raised about which of the sons born between 1790 and 1804 was the direct ancestor of our branch of the family. I was kind of fascinated with the way my research was going. I would be cruising along making good progress with finding and checking facts when I would hit a snag. I would search and search for the answer until I grew frustrated. I might go through this for an entire day before I would finally give in and crawl into bed exhausted. The next morning when I woke up the answer would seem to be the very first waking thought that popped into my head. I'd get up, go to my computer to check it out and I'll be darned if the problem wasn't resolved every time. I originally attributed to getting some sleep and beginning with a clear mind.

Then one day when I was working on the history from my mother's side of the family, I hit another brick wall. In exasperation, I gave up and stomped off to the basement and my family room. My intention was to relax and throw a movie in the VCR but once I settled into the recliner, I thought I'd just take a short nap.

I lay there completely unmoving, trying to let all my thoughts just slide away. As I was lying there I realized that I couldn't feel my body. It wasn't like I was paralyzed but more like I had been still for so long I wasn't aware of having a body. I kind of liked it. So I kept my eyes closed and tried to just allow whatever thoughts came to pop into my head. I don't know why I decided to do such a thing except that it seemed like the natural thing to do. Thoughts of my problem finding the information about my mom's family kept intruding and I kept mentally shoving them aside.

At the Trostle House in Gettysburg
At the Trostle House in Gettysburg

Just as I was shoving the thoughts aside for the tenth time, a man's voice boomed in my right ear, “So! Will you do nothing?” My first reaction was to jump up while turning in the direction the voice had come from to see who had spoken. Very dumb thing to do. First of all, I was all alone in my house. For someone to be on my right side, he would have had to sneak up from my left, felt his way through the pitch dark (I had no lights on and there are no windows) and gingerly sat down so as not to let me feel the section of the sofa, beside the recliner, dipping down. The second reason it wasn't so smart is because I had been lying back in the recliner. Though I had sat up in a hurry, I didn't push the foot rest down when I jumped up. I ended up being caught in the space between the rest and the edge of the seat, which in turn, caused me to get tangled in the light blanket I was covered with resulting in me falling out and over the foot rest. I'm sure it was a funny sight had anyone observed it, but I was hopping mad.

I wasn't scared of the voice but I was very startled. I calmed myself enough to sit down and go back into the state of nothingness. Once I achieved my sense of being without a body, I mentally asked whoever had spoken to feel free to present himself to me and disburse whatever information he so felt inclined. Almost immediately I began to see white light “sparking” off to the right of what would have been my field of vision if my eyes had been open. It appeared as if the light were shining through my closed eyelids kind of like when we close our eyes but a light is still on in the room. We know we're not in total darkness. I instinctively knew that if I opened my eyes the light would go away so I kept my eyes closed.

After a few more “sparks” an image began to form in the same spot. He was an elderly man of about 70-72 years of age. He was dressed in what I guessed to be clothes from the late 1940's. He wore a gray flannel suit, white shirt, and had a fedora perched on his head, the pure white hair tufting out at unruly angles over the tops of his ears. His face was that of a kindly leprechaun sporting a wide smile and twinkling eyes I believe may have been blue. His expression was the kind one might see on a grandfather indulging a grandchild, sort of amused at the antics of that child. He didn't say anything.

I became aware that the rest of the scene was forming. It was if I were looking in on a large open room. It was definitely a room one might see in an old movie set in the 30's or 40's. The floor was wide dusty wooden planks. Pushed against a side wall was a long wooden bench on which sat four people. The only thing I could see of the four was from their waists down. There was a set of male legs encased in dusty work pants with a pair of feet housed in dusty work boots. Beside this pair of legs was a pair of female legs properly crossed so as not to show too much beneath the skirt. The shoes were definitely from the 40's. The other two sets of legs were pretty much the same so that they were sitting male, female, male, female. I knew they were enjoying lunch because the men had opened lunchboxes resting on their laps. All I could figure out from what I was seeing was that the room was in some sort of factory, the men were employees there, and the old guy seemed to be either the owner or a supervisor of sorts. Then just as quickly as it had come, it was gone, and I wasn't happy.

Taken at Gettysburg with daytime infrared technique.  This is not a living person.
Taken at Gettysburg with daytime infrared technique. This is not a living person. | Source

I opened my eyes to the darkness and spoke to the empty space hoping the old guy could hear me. “Thanks for nothing, pal.” I had no idea who he might have been. I had no idea who the people were all lined up on the bench, and I had no idea why I was shown the scene in the first place. The only thing I could think was that he had spoken to me when I was absorbed with the genealogy problem associated with my mother's family. He had asked me if I was going to do nothing. I felt like I was being chided for my willingness to just give up so easily.

I had never told my mother about my experiences. She was not aware of my communication with my brother after he had died. She was not aware I had a picture of his spirit standing by his grave. I was sitting on her patio one afternoon having stopped by for an unexpected visit. The direction of the conversation turned toward family relatives so I told her about my project of sorting out her family tree. She advised me to stop wasting my time as her baby brother, my Uncle Randy, had already given it his best shot and apparently had run into the same brick wall as I.

The problem was with my mother's grandfather on her father's side. The origins of Thomas Braxton Thomas were very difficult to trace. It seems that his real name was actually Thomas Braxton, come from Ireland when he was a child. That is where things get muddied. The story is that his mother died and his father wasn't equipped to raise a child alone. Thomas was taken in by a family friend whose last name was also Thomas. My great-grandfather was then known as Thomas B. Thomas while he was a member of their family. The date of his mother's death is unknown. We don't know if she died prior to Thomas and his father's arrival in America, or if it was shortly thereafter, or even on the way over. All we know is it happened close to when they arrived. Supposedly he was 12 years old when he got here which would put his arrival around 1884.

My mother claimed that when Thomas attempted to set the records straight about his real name, our government wouldn't allow him to do so. Even though there was no official adoption, he had been known as Thomas B. Thomas, and that was the name on all official records. I believe his name was changed after he arrived or there would be a record of him listed on one of the passenger lists. Be that as it may, we still don't have anything on the family beyond him. As he married a Cherokee woman who also had been removed from her family and raised to be a Christian, we are unable to trace her lineage.

I got brave and started to tell my mother about my vision. I started to describe the elderly man to her but was stopped about midway through my description. She finished it for me, perfectly describing the man I had seen. Excited, I then told her about the rest of what I'd seen. My mother is not a believer in the paranormal. She won't hesitate to make jokes about people who do believe. I remember the wonder in her eyes as she told me I had seen the very man about whom all the fuss was centered on. He had died when she was 12, in 1952. He had always worn the very type and color of suit I had described with a fedora. He smiled quite a bit, and had pure white hair that truly stuck out every which way. He was the supervisor of a tannery where all four of his sons were employed. My great-aunts took lunch to them every day for as long as my mom could remember. He was 72 when he died. Oh, and did I mention he was Irish which might explain why he reminded me of a leprechaun.

One of the pieces of information I had discovered in tracing our family concerned the heart condition which had taken my father and my brother at young ages. Apparently, a heart attack had been the cause of death for many a young male member going all the way back over 200 years to the very first ancestor to be born on American soil. He was just 34 years old. I came to understand that the tragedies which had visited my family were not caused by some random act of unkindness perpetrated for some unknown reason, but merely the result of a long reaching genetic disorder.

As I pondered the events surrounding my visual communication with my great-grandfather, I thought about my state of being when I experienced it. I went back to furthering my research through the computer and books. I also was now beginning to question why the Christian bible seemed to outlaw the idea of seeking visions, often condemning individuals for seeking out “seers and oracles”. I had never given the Bible much thought because it had been written during a period when women were not considered a valuable commodity for anything other than continuing the family bloodline.

I was plagued by questions concerning what I considered the conflicting ideas and facts dotting the works contained within the Bible of today. Reading it didn't bring me any satisfaction. I had listened to countless ministers and self-proclaimed men of the Bible. All had seemed to put a spin on the teachings which struck me as self-serving. The best advice I had ever received in connection to deciphering the Bible had come from my father-in-law. He was a Methodist minister coming from a family with a long line of ministers dating back to the beginnings of the Methodist Church. He had advised me to seek on my own; that all is not exactly as others would have us believe.

I never forgot his words because they seemed to answer one of the questions I carried with me. Why did so many Christians spout off about having a personal relationship with God? Why did they insist that we must talk to Him and take our problems to Him because he would surely show us the way, when they consistently turn to a third party for guidance? To my way of thinking, if one has total faith in their God and that belief embraces the concept that God can hear and answer, then what's the point of having a third party intermediate? Doesn't that sort of negate the personal relationship contract? It's not really personal if there's always a third party dictating what to believe. Why not present their request, problem, or question with an open mind, accept whatever information flows into their minds while waiting, and then act on the information with the conviction that the answer they have just received is truly an answer?

I have a very dear and close friend who for a long time walked the path of a born again Christian. I had been experiencing some truly difficult financial troubles associated with my estranged husband's refusal to pay child support and the court's failure in enforcing the order. Always at the eleventh hour, I would receive a check from some unexpected source, which would be enough to pull me through the crisis. She had wondered out loud how it came to be that I was always being pulled out of tight places by God's saving Grace when I didn't even acknowledge His existence, in comparison to how hard she worked at living her life as a proper Christian should do.

My answer was the same then as it is now. My relationship with my God is my business. I do not need to share it with the rest of the world by going to a church, or shouting it from the rooftops. There is no need for me to prove my worthiness to any one but my God. Essentially, my needs were being met because I was smart enough to know when I was not strong enough to combat impending troubles all by my lonesome. During those times I would shrug my shoulders and say, “here ya go. It's all yours 'cause I don't know what to do.” And then I stopped worrying about the outcome. If I wanted to remain sane, I knew I had to allow whatever was going to happen, to just happen. And then I chose to believe it would all be for the best, mainly because I have never believed the purpose of life is to suffer. Suffering is only a symptom of exercising poor choice.

With all of the experiences I'd had thus far, I'd come to another understanding about the suffering we cause ourselves when we are faced with the loss of a loved one. I believe we have caused our own suffering by refusing to allow ourselves to believe in the ability to communicate past physical death. I believe we have allowed the politics originally associated with the early Christian Church to corrupt the principal messages meant to be shared by all, in order to maintain control over the masses.

I realize my words may upset some of you who are fully indoctrinated Christians of the modern sects. It isn't my intention to anger or insult, nor is it my intention to convert anyone. Please remember this is about my journey in seeking answers of the afterlife.

My continuing search led me to the bookstore once again. I didn't know what I was looking for but figured I would recognize it when I saw it. I went to the paranormal section and perused the shelves. Not seeing anything that struck me on the first segment of shelves, I stepped to the left to the next section of shelving. I quickly realized I had moved into the religious section, so I moved back to where I had been. As soon as I stepped away, a book fell from the religious section and landed on my foot. I bent down to pick it up without looking at it. As I reached to put it back where it belonged, I turned it over to read the title. Hey! This book didn't belong there. It belonged in the paranormal section. I looked long and hard at the religious shelving. Yes, there was an empty space where the book had been before it fell to my feet. Curious, I flipped it back over so I could read the description on the back cover. My mouth fell open. There was no doubt in my mind that the book had fallen on my foot for a reason. I looked no further as I made my way to the cashier, book in hand.

part 6 coming...........

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    • Terri Meredith profile imageAUTHOR

      Terri Meredith 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. As you've probably read for yourself, I'm sort of partial to the world of spirits. I've learned so much since I began this quest that I feel like I'll still be writing about it a year from now. As for the lack of comments, I've received several on a couple of the earlier installments, but I'm thinking that perhaps many people are busy with other aspects of their lives during the weekends. For instance, I only just got home and online as I spent my day with a very close friend and an astrologer acquaintence. Most people I know are spend their weekends taking care of family needs.

      Keep on writing!

    • goody7 profile image


      7 years ago from over there under the sycamore tree

      This is really a very interesting series of hubs. I'm surprised you haven't gotten more comments, and that I'm the only comment so far to date. Of coarse I shouldn't be I guess, because you are only the 2nd one to comment on my hub about ghost. Thank you so much for stopping by to read my hub, and leave your great comment. Keep on hubbing & keep on writing and I will keep on reading. Have a nice day.


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