I was five years old the first time I saw an apparition. I was half-asleep, the pre-dawn crickets had gone silent, and I was stirred into waking by a gentle pulling on my toe. When I opened my eyes I saw my paternal grandfather standing at the foot of my bed. He smiled. I slid my toes out of the covers into my slippers, preparing to lean into a nice big hug, but he was gone. I thought it strange, but to a five-year old the very regular world can seem like a strange place, so I drifted back to sleep. The next morning when I told my mom about my nighttime vision, she burst into tears. My grandpa had died just after midnight, perhaps an hour before he visited me.
As I grew up and started collecting strange stories of the supernatural variety, I found that this kind of manifestation is actually fairly common. An after-death farewell. Yet the idea of visitors from the great beyond is a subject that few dare to discuss in open company (unless you are hanging out with me) lest their experiences be ridiculed or their ideas sound crazy.