5/26/2018

The Ghost of Uncle Charlie






Today we are pleased to present Ben Tanner as our guest poster on the Paranormal/Supernatural topic for this month.  Ben is a 48-year-old bank executive with a bank in California.  Ben has a Master's Degree in Finance and is a part-time professor at a community college for night classes.  His wife, Akari, is an emergency room RN at a local hospital.  The couple has three boys, ranging from ages 23, 21 and 20.  All three attend universities in California.  Ben's hobbies consist of golf, handball, reading classic literature and taking walks with his wife and two German Shepards, Mac and Duke.

If you have a story to share relating to the paranormal/supernatural, click HERE for details.  Also, to answer many questions, there is no charge for guest posting on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural. 

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I grew up in Oklahoma, not far from Tulsa.  I won't bore you with all the fun I had growing up in the "Sooner State."  Suffice it to say, I had a great childhood and many memories that will stay with me my entire life.  My goal is to someday return to my roots in that state.  We lived out in the country where we could go hours on end and not see a car go down the two-lane highway situated about one-hundred yards from our front door.  It was never a busy highway since I-44 was completed back in the mid-fifties.  That shut down a lot of businesses in our neck of the woods.  So, my dad sold the hardware store and went into farming.  Dad found out he wasn't cut out for farming.  So, he took to be an interstate truck driver and did that until he dropped dead with a heart attack in 1982.  I was 12 years old when that horrible event took place.  Dad was always a bit of a "hands-off" type of father.  Oh, he provided for our material needs, paid for us to go to college.  But, I can count on one hand the number of times my Dad took up time with me and my siblings (Lori and Dorthy, my two older sisters).  But, regardless, we all loved Dad even though he rarely showed affection toward us.  It was just his way.  But, Dad's younger brother, Uncle Charlie, made up for Dad's imperfections.  He always went out of his way to take up time with us, especially me.  He taught me how to throw a curveball (he played Triple-A ball back in the day and was in the Big League long enough to drink a cup of coffee as he was fond of saying), helped us with homework, looked after us when Mom went shopping and just about anything else we needed him for.  Uncle Charlie told us corny jokes, regaled us with stories of mystery and intrigue.  He was everything you could hope for in an uncle.

Uncle Charlie married just briefly (another cup of coffee) with a woman that our family warned him about.  He came home from the meat packing factory one day to find she had cleaned out their joint bank account, took all the new furniture that she made him buy and took their new Chevrolet Impala he had just bought.  It took him two years to extricate himself from that disaster.  Uncle Charlie dated other women, took up with some in his house for months at a time.  But, he never remarried.  During my Dad's funeral, Uncle Charlie stuck with us like glue.  Although Dad and Uncle Charlie didn't get along (If you couldn't get along with Uncle Charlie, you couldn't get along with anybody), he mourned his brother's death along with the rest of us.   I don't know what we would have done without Uncle Charlie helping us out financially after Dad's life insurance wasn't what we thought it would be.  It was enough to keep us in the house for about five years and that was about it.  So, Mom decided to sell the house and we moved into a trailer (lovingly referred to as a Manufactured Home now).  There was far less room to live.  But, we made do with what we had.  Uncle Charlie saw to it that our bills were paid despite protests from our mother.  Uncle Charlie was a bedrock.  My sisters took him for granted.  I never did.  I always told him how grateful I was to him for helping us out. He always told me how much he appreciated me telling him that.  His eyes always got a little misty when I expressed my gratitude to him.

Like my Dad, Uncle Charlie had heart trouble also.  He had a triple bypass in 1988.  He died from pneumonia not long after that surgery.  I was completely devastated.  I was in my freshman year at the University of Tulsa when I got word of it.  I got in my beat up 1980 Pontiac Lemans and sped all the way home.  I have no idea why I was not stopped by an Okie state trooper.  The tears that day and the next three days were enough to sink an aircraft carrier.  Everyone loved Uncle Charlie.  I remember him saying the best way for me to repay him for all his kindness over the years was to get that BS degree in Finance.  That was something I was thinking about as I entered the room at the funeral home where his wake was being held.  I hugged countless people and shook hands with many I did not know.  There was a huge group of people near the entrance to the room holding the wake. I decided I would go to the restroom to wash my face.  I had cried so much until my eyes were hurting. It was at this moment I saw my late Uncle Charlie.

To say I was astounded would not do justice to how I actually felt.  I was speechless.  Uncle Charlie was in the funeral home restroom coming out of a stall.  I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things.  Uncle Charlie was standing there just smiling from ear to ear.  "UNCLE CHARLIE!!!!!!"  I screamed at the top of my lungs!. He was just standing there grinning when the door swung open.  "Ben, are you okay, son," asked my Aunt Layla.  Yes, my aunt was in the men's room.  "Did I hear you yell your Uncle Charlie's name?" my aunt asked.  I turned around to see my uncle had disappeared.  "I...I just am upset, Aunt Frances.  I'll be alright, I swear," I said.  She looked at me with a strange look and went back out to the wake where my Uncle Charlie lies in state.  I was still in a state of shock.  "Uncle Charlie?  Please come back and let me know I'm not losing my mind?" I asked.  I waited patiently for about five more minutes and then left.  I was still trembling.  Was I seeing things?  Was I more traumatized by Uncle Charlie's death than I realized?  I went over to the casket where Uncle Charlie lay.  He was still there with the slight upturned grin with his lips.  I told the funeral home director that was not the way my uncle would have been wanted to be remembered.  Uncle Charlie smiled a lot.  But, not like that. He didn't seem to like what I said and walked off in a huff.  There was no one I could trust with what I had seen in the restroom.  I decided I was seeing things and forgot about it.  Uncle Charlie's funeral was uneventful except for Susan Atkins singing Amazing Grace.  Susan Atkins took music as her major at the local community college.  She seemed to think that gave her a voice on equal of Mariah Carey.  She shrieked, she didn't sing.  It is no wonder I saw Uncle Charlie's spirit in the restroom.  He was as appalled as the rest of us.

About four or five days after Uncle Charlie's funeral, I was going through his things at his house.  He had some expensive rifles and handguns that were surely worth about $5,000 or more.  He had all new furniture and recently remodeled the house.  He left everything to Mom.   Along with the house (that had recently been paid off), Uncle Charlie left us with about $150,000, cash, CDs he had in the bank.  Our financial difficulties were over thanks, once again, to my beloved Uncle Charlie.  I sat down on his new sectional couch in the living room.  I was thinking about Uncle Charlie, I started crying a bit and said, "Thanks, Uncle Charlie.  If not for you, there's no telling where we would be right now."  "Don't mention it, Ben.  It was done out of love and out of respect for your Dad and Mom," a familiar voice said.  I bet I jumped ten feet in the air.  I know it was at least seven feet because I hit the chandelier hanging in the living room.  It was my now deceased Uncle Charlie grinning, once again, as he sat in his favorite chair at his dining room table.  I looked at him with my mouth wide open and could not form words.  "Calm down, Ben, Calm down.  You aren't going insane.  You haven't lost your mind.  I won't be with you much longer before I must leave this plane of existence permanently.  I just wanted to make sure you and your family are okay.  I've got to tell you to look for a couple of things that will bring in a bit more money," said my Uncle Charlie.  He was as real now as when he was alive.  He was wearing a suit the last time I saw him (different from the one he was wearing in the casket).  This time he was wearing a polo shirt and blue jeans that he favored when not working.  "Uncle...Uncle Charlie...what's going on?  You're dead, you're..." I stammered.  "I have not yet crossed over, Ben.  My time is not infinite.  I must take leave of you in a few days time.  First things first, in the barn I have over 600 silver dollars buried in an old five-gallon cannister.  Some of those silver dollars dating back to the 1880s.  They are worth a lot of money now.  Start digging in the northeast corner.  It's about three feet down.  Also, Aunt Layla is going to try to claim my new Chevy Silverado and my '57 Chevrolet Bel Air that I reconditioned.  That '57 Chevy is priceless.  I want you to have it, Ben.  Look for the handmade will in my safe deposit box at the Merchants Bank in Tulsa.  Lawyer said it will stand up in court," my late uncle patiently said. "You'll see me again in a couple of days, Ben," said my uncle.  Then, he just disappeared.

I must have sat on that couch at least another hour or more.  I was almost catatonic.  I've never believed in ghosts.  I'm not sure if Uncle Charlie's spirit even passes for a ghost since he was so sentient and solid looking.  He seems like he never even passed away.  I remember I was afraid to touch him, even though I wanted to.  The dread was that my hands might pass right through him.  I didn't want to chance that happening.  There was no dire warning as you would think most ghostly experiences are that you see on TV and read in books.  Uncle Charlie was simply making sure we were all okay and making sure Aunt Layla didn't get his truck and '57 Chevy.  I had to go to Tulsa the next morning.  At that moment, I didn't even trust myself driving the three miles back home.  I eventually calmed down though and drove myself home.  I was feeling like I was in the Twilight Zone.  This sort of thing happens to other people.  I wanted to tell my Mom.  But, I was afraid she would think I had lost my mind.  Uncle Charlie would not go to the other side until he made sure his estate was properly settled.  I had to make sure everything went exactly as he had wished for it to be settled.

The next morning, I was just finishing breakfast with my two sisters when my Mom said I had a call from Uncle Charlie's lawyer.  His lawyer told me that I had been named the executor of Charlie's estate.  The lawyer needed me in his office that afternoon.  But, he told me I needed to go to the bank and clear out Uncle Charlie's safe deposit box.  I got dressed and left to go into town to the bank.  I expected some red tape.  But, I had the copy of Uncle Charlie's will to prove I was executor.  The bank employee stepped out of the room after she opened up the box.  In that safe deposit box was a note.  "Ben, if you are reading this, it means I'm dead.  I named you executor because of how much I have loved you and your sisters and mother.  Please take the bonds here and cash them.  They should help out.  Even the blood sucking lawyer doesn't know about these bonds.  I don't trust lawyers as you know.  I'll be seeing you soon, Ben.  Take care."  Uncle Charlie didn't even sign it.  I counted the bonds.  They were worth over $200,000 in total.  We now had close to $500K with everything else.  I had not even counted the silver dollars he had buried.  I choked up and started crying.  I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder.  I was thinking it was the bank employee.  "It's going to be alright, Ben.  Just take care of your family and be a good man.  That's all I ask of you.  I have to go now.  I've done all I can.  I'll be seeing you someday, Ben," said my ghostly Uncle Charlie.  He looked at me with those pale blue eyes of his.  "Don't go, Uncle Charlie!  Please!" I pleaded with him.  Uncle Charlie just faded away in front of me in that vault.  He left sooner than he had expected, I believe.

I found those silver dollars that Uncle Charlie had buried.  They were worth a lot of money.  I had no idea Uncle Charlie had so much money and, yet, lived so frugally.   I would like to say I continued to see the spirit of my Uncle Charlie after that day in the bank vault.  But, I never actually saw him again.  I only saw him in my dreams.  Even then, he would never speak.  He would just grin and wave to me.  My Uncle Charlie was a good man.  That is who I have aspired to live up to my whole life.  I hope I have been just half as good a man as my Uncle Charlie.






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