Edvard Munch artist QS:P170,Q41406, Edvard Munch, 1893, The Scream, oil, tempera and pastel on cardboard, 91 x 73 cm, National Gallery of Norway, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

I am haunted by voices of ghosts speaking to me whenever I am alone. There are two in particular who talk to me. Ray, my beloved husband of 54 years, who died seven years ago speaks most often.

Katherine’s first husband, Ray. (Photo from author’s personal collection)

“The speed limit is NOT a suggestion, Katherine, it’s the LAW!” he says when I’m barely driving five miles over the limit.

“Cairo is NOT safe, Katherine, don’t go!” he repeats as I plan my trip this coming spring.

Whenever I’m looking for my misplaced purse, phone, or keys, I hear him loudly and clearly,

“If you just put things down in the right place, you wouldn’t spend half of your life looking for things!”

When I see something not working quite right, Ray tells me, “Get it fixed NOW before it gets worse.”

“Close the front door before all the heat goes out!” his ghostly voice hollers whenever I run out to get the papers leaving the door opened. It’s a rare day that I don’t hear him reminding or cautioning me about something.

The second voice, my mother’s, mostly scolds me… even after ten years in her grave.

Katherine and her mother (Photo by Ray Haas)

“You like gladiolas, orchids and canna lilies? They are ugly, Katherine!  Beautiful plants must have soft stems that bend in the wind!”

Whenever I’m seated, happy and relaxed, I hear her, “Stop slouching and sit up straight!”

“Are you publishing another piece?  You don’t know how to write!”

“Knock on wood!” I hear so often that I keep a tongue depressor with me at all times so I have wood to knock on before something terrible happens to me.

When I finally dared to have my toes and fingers painted with pretty polish last month, I heard her, “How vulgar, Katherine, only prostitutes paint their nails!”

The strange thing is that there are times that her ghostly presence seem to smile at me.  I feel her smile whenever I write a thank you letter for a lovely dinner at a friends’ home. She seems to be there when I dare to merge on a scary road and complete the process successfully. “You did it! You did it!”

When I married Bob, my mom’s aura was there seeming to say, “I, too, had a happy second marriage. It is possible to love and be loved by two very different men, dear.”

My sweet Bob is perfectly happy living with my two noisy ghosts.  He says I am living with frequent phone calls from his two ex- wives, so he might as well live with my two ghosts!

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Katherine Haas taught at Key School in Annapolis for 43 years. She now spends her time enjoying the arts with her husband, teaching Chinese, working part-time at Key as a Storyteller and engaging in progressive activism.

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