* Each Time One Of My Relatives Died, a Clock Stopped

‘Each time one of my relatives died, a clock stopped': Just one of the haunting stories from People who tell their experiences of ghostly events surrounding deaths in their families

Stop the clock

Deanna Mottershead says that three clocks have stopped at the time Her fiance, father and mother passed away Deanna Mottershead, 73, a retired hotel services manager, lives in Llandudno, North Wales, with her husband, Alan, 83, a retired sales manager. She says: In January 1962, my fiancé Tony had a scooter crash and lay in hospital, unconscious, for a week. It was devastating and I sat constantly by his bedside willing him to recover. Then, one day, he squeezed my hand as I talked to him. I left the hospital convinced he would recover and headed straight for his parents’ house. There, a large, wind-up clock sat on the mantelpiece. At 3.15pm, the phone suddenly rang. It was the hospital. Tony had died a quarter of an hour earlier.

His parents and I sobbed and clung to each other, shocked to our core. Only later did we look at the clock, which had been wound, as usual, the night before. It had stopped at the exact time of Tony’s death – 3pm.

At the time, it was too much to comprehend. But years later I realised it couldn’t have just been by chance. Even so, nothing could have prepared us for what happened when my 62-year-old father, Richard, had a heart attack in August 1975. He was rushed to hospital but, when his condition stabilised that evening, my mother and I were sent home. At 1.45am, a neighbour woke us by knocking on the door. The hospital had called her – we didn’t have a phone at home then – with the news that Dad had died at 1.20am. Hours later, after the shock had worn off, I stumbled up to bed and saw that my reliable little travel alarm clock had stopped – at exactly 1.20pm.

While I was still grief-stricken, I took a tiny piece of comfort from seeing that clock, frozen in time. Somehow, in a strange way, I felt I was still close to Dad and it helped me through those awful hours. This wasn’t the last time a clock marked the end of the life of someone close to me. One evening in 2002, when my husband and I were out, we received a phone call to say that Mum, 87, had died in a nursing home. I couldn’t help but say to my husband: ‘I wonder if anything has happened to the clock at home?’ When we arrived home, to our amazement, we found our battery-operated clock had literally exploded. The time it stopped? 6pm – the exact time of Mum’s death. I can never explain three deaths, three clocks and those three moments in time. But it comforts me and I feel in some way they are still connected to me. I miss them – but I haven’t lost them entirely

Face to face with a smiling ghost

Jan Hunter says she saw the ghost of a neighbour who had died ten days earlier standing at the gate outside his home When I was growing up in north London, our two neighbours – rather aptly named Mr and Mrs Strictly – were a familiar sight. You simply never missed them, thanks to their eccentric dress-sense. They were an elderly couple who always stepped out in immaculate, but stiffly formal attire. And while she always wore a hat and coat, as a young child, it was Mr Strictly who really grabbed my attention. No matter the weather, he always dressed with stiffly starched and studded collar, waistcoat, jacket, hat, smart trousers and shoes. I never saw him without his hat and, while we never spoke, he would always touch it as a greeting.

One morning, when I was a 24-year-old teacher, I raced out to my car and saw Mr Strictly standing by the gate. I stopped in my tracks because, for the first time ever, he didn’t have his hat on. Instead, he had a mass of wild, white hair – I remember noticing the individual strands which were blowing in the breeze. That sense of frivolity seemed to match his mood because, as he turned and smiled at me, I saw a happiness that I’d never seen before. He looked at me as if to say ‘I’m free’ – the sense of release was almost palpable – and I noticed his shirt-sleeves were rolled up, his studded collar had been removed and his shirt and waistcoat were unbuttoned. What’s more, his hands were casually in his pockets, which I’d never seen before. I almost chuckled to myself at the thought of what his wife would say. I was so struck by this that when I bumped into another neighbour, Claire, the next morning I mentioned it to her. She asked me if I was sure, then ran to fetch the local paper from inside. It contained an obituary notice for Mr Strictly, who had died ten days earlier. I know that I saw his ghost – and he looked so happy and robust that he was finally free to dress exactly how he liked.

A cosy cuddle from my late husband

Dorothy Moose, a widow, says she has felt her husband in bed alongside her For decades my wonderful husband, Ted, would wrap his strong arms around me as I got back into bed after a trip to the bathroom in the night and say: ‘Snuggle up and I’ll get you warm.’ I’d met Ted, a construction equipment salesman, on a blind date when I was 19 and it was love at first sight.

We married 18 months later, and had almost 50 blissful years together. So, after his death five years ago from kidney cancer aged 72, I was bereft and the long, cold nights were particularly lonely and empty. Then one night, two years later, as I got back into bed shivering after a trip to the bathroom in the early hours, I suddenly felt the mattress behind me dip down, as if Ted was climbing in beside me. I was terrified, and I moved in shock. As I shifted, the weight on the bed beside me disappeared. Trembling, I said: ‘Is that you Ted? If you come back tomorrow, I promise I won’t move.’ I was so scared and unnerved that I couldn’t sleep for hours. But when I woke in the morning, the bed moved beside me again, as if Ted was taking his familiar place.

It started to happen quite regularly – and once I actually felt the warm sensation of my hand on his, reaching over his fingers. Another time I heard his cough behind me. On another occasion, I even walked into the bedroom and saw him lying on the bed, smiling, looking just as he had aged 30, healthy and happy. He’s since stopped visiting but it was such a comfort to know he hasn’t left me for ever. It’s as if he wanted me to see he was all right – and make sure I was, too.

The phone rang: It was my dead dad

Penny Daniels, 56, a management consultant, is divorced and lives in Hassocks, West Sussex. She says says she received a telephone call from her dead father while she was going through a difficult part of her life In 2001, I was going through a particularly desolate and difficult period. My father George, a soldier-turned-accountant, had died the year before from a heart attack, aged 81. I missed him dreadfully. I’d also recently lost my father-in-law, Tom, to whom I was very close,

and my 20-year marriage had just broken up. In the small hours of my 43rd birthday that March, I was at my lowest ebb, lying in bed alone after a restless sleep. Then my landline phone rang. I jumped out of bed and answered it, wondering who might be calling me at such an early hour. To my astonishment, the voice on the end of the line was my father, George’s. ‘Penny, hello?’ he said, as if checking it was me. My jaw fell and my heart seemed to stop beating momentarily. I answered ‘Hello? Hello?’, but there was no other sound. Then the line went dead and all I could hear was the dial tone.

I stood looking at the receiver in my hand for some time, feeling completely shaken. Then I realised my father, aware that I was alone on my birthday, wanted to let me know he was watching over me. He’d died very suddenly and we never got to say goodbye so I think he brought about this one last encounter to give me comfort from the other side. I climbed back into bed and pulled the duvet up to my chin with an eerie sense of calm washing over me.

Grandad’s told me to look after you

Simone Bonner says her daughter received a message from her grandfather saying she must look after the family, while she saw him at the foot of her bed on the day of his funeral In January 1983, my brother, Nick, came round in the early hours to break the news of our father’s death. Just after he’d told us, my eldest daughter, Nicola, then ten, suddenly came downstairs. She was very close to her grandfather, who she called ‘Pamps’. I was struggling for the words to tell her that Grandad Bert had died of a heart attack when she said:

‘Pamps came to see me and said he was going away for a long time and that I must be brave and look after Nana’. I looked at her open-mouthed as she continued: ‘I cried and said I didn’t want him to leave but he told me to be strong because Nana and Mummy and the rest of the family will need to be looked after. Then I felt him hug me and he told me not to be sad because he would always be with me’. Nicola then threw her arms around me, comforting me just like her granddad had requested. On the morning of his funeral, I was lying in bed, wide awake, wondering how on earth I was going to get through the day. Blinking back tears I suddenly saw my father at the foot of my bed, as if he was behind a huge wreath of brightly-coloured flowers, shaped like a window frame.

He was dressed in a brown suit – as a builder it was the only one he owned – that he’d worn for my wedding and had a lovely smile on his lips. I didn’t dare blink or speak in case this vision disappeared but, after a minute, his image faded away. He was only 64 when he died and I believe he was letting his family know he was there, supporting us. The feelings of love and peace that radiated from Dad that day morning with me for a long time after.

My father’s spirit was at the library

Pamela Ashton has spoken of how a librarian her father knew saw him looking at books more than a week after he died When my 72-year-old father, Alan, died of septicemia in 1995, it took my husband and I several days to get back from Cairo, where we were then living, to my parents’ home in Nottingham. When I arrived, there was so much to be done before the funeral, and I noticed that Dad still had his library books.

He lived for reading. Every Tuesday, he would go to the local library and choose a selection of Ken Folletts and Wilbur Smiths – to name but a few – then spend the rest of the week buried in them. The librarian, June, knew Dad as a regular. I drove to return the books with a heavy heart, and found June there. She almost gave a start when she saw me and blurted out: ‘Oh Pam, the most funny thing just happened. Your Dad was wandering around the shelves looking for something to read, but when I looked away for a second, he totally vanished. ‘I don’t know what happened to him – and I’m worried.’

The colour drained from her face when I told her Dad had passed nearly a week before. She was utterly insistent she’d seen him. Driving home, it was snowing heavily and I was concentrating hard when suddenly I saw Dad in the car from the corner of my eye. I heard him say: ‘I didn’t mean to scare June – I just needed something to read.’ Then, in an instant, he was gone. Whenever I look at Dad’s book collection – sitting proudly on my own shelves – I think of his final visit to that library.

Mum knew D-Day hero was dead

The most vivid memory of my childhood was the planes flying over the school on their way to the Normandy landings for D Day on June 6, 1944 – my eighth birthday. I ran home and waited for my mother, Margaret, to come back from her job at a munitions factory. As I ran up the path and told her, Mum smiled. Then suddenly, she burst into tears and started shaking. She was in the most terrible state, and as I tried to comfort her, I asked her what was wrong. My mother blurted out that her brother, Joseph, who was in the Navy, had just been killed. But when I asked how she knew, she insisted that she just felt that he had been killed at that moment – 5pm on June 6. A week later, the dreaded telegram boy rode up to the house on his bicycle and delivered the news that my dashing young uncle had indeed been killed at 5pm on June 6 during the Normandy landings.
Adapted by Corinna Honan from Opening Heaven’s Door by Patricia Pearson, to be published by Simon and Schuster on May 22 at £12.99. © Patricia Pearson 2014. To order a copy for £11.99 (incl p&p), call 0844 472 4157



March 4th, 2015

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