Short Stories

Short stories and thoughts

Ghost of Aunt Mary - Can aunts come back to haunt you? Seems at least one could!

Photo courtesy of

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Dryden, Ontario, Canada

One spring day in 1946, elderly Aunt Mary died. Later that night she dropped in for a visit.

In fact, several of our family members have returned after death to ensure the living kept their promises (Perhaps some dysfunctionality there along with a distinct lack of trust – maybe control issues. Who the hell knows?).

To continue:  Aunt Mary was my mother’s aunt. When Margaret (my mother) was thirteen, she and her mother, Irene, moved to Ontario to help Uncle Will care for Aunt Mary who’d fallen and broken her hip. In those days, family members looked after their aged and dying relatives.

The patient was bedridden in the front room since her room was too small to accommodate caregivers. The irascible old woman, with no children of her own, made Margaret’s life miserable with constant demands. To this day, I believe that’s the reason my mother loved to go to school. It got her away from Aunt Mary and all the old people.

On the day of Mary’s death, my mother told me that the old woman kept looking progressively younger. The lines on her face faded, her complexion improved, and greyed red hair appeared to regain some of its colour. To a thirteen-year-old girl, this was a mystery. In fact, it would be a mystery to most of us.

After Mary exhaled her final breath, the doctor signed a death certificate, the body was removed to the morgue, and the family prepared for a funeral.

Margaret had been sleeping in Aunt Mary’s bedroom since her arrival and, as she climbed into bed that night, thought of what she’d witnessed that day. A number of older relatives, including her father, had died over the previous few months, and it was a lot for a child to digest. She looked forward to a better day tomorrow.

But it seemed Aunt Mary had other plans. Unlike previous relatives, Aunt Mary was not so easily written off. There were things to be taken care of and she was going to make damn sure everything was done right before she moved on! This might give you an indication of her personality.

Sometime after 10:00 p.m. before the household had gone to sleep, Margaret looked up to see Aunt Mary standing in the bedroom doorway looking in. As she’d never seen Aunt Mary walk, this was pretty shocking – not to mention, she believed the woman to be several hours dead.

The figure was translucent and surrounded by a whitish light with a hint of red (Aunt Mary had been a red-head). This was long before the advent of night-lights so there was no light-source in the house.

Aunt Mary had made no secret of her dislike of Margaret when she was alive and, since Margaret was sleeping in Mary's room, the child was afraid the woman’s ghost had returned to haunt her! As the figure continued to stand in the doorway and look in, Margaret did what most thirteen-year-olds would do – covered her head with the covers!

The next morning, Margaret told her mother about what she'd seen. As it happened, Irene, now in the recently-vacated sick-bed, had also witnessed the figure as it crossed the front room to the bedroom doorway. Her vantage meant she’d seen the figure from behind while Margaret saw it from the front – which made perfect sense considering their relative positions.

Although Irene had watched the figure until it disappeared, she hadn’t intended to tell her daughter. Now what should she do? Which did she want Margaret to believe? That she’d been hallucinating? Or that the ghost of Aunt Mary had been real? Either would be frightening to a thirteen-year-old.

Since Irene had already experienced many paranormal events, she decided to be practical about it. She assured Margaret that what she’d seen had been real and that Aunt Mary must want something. What could it be?

Irene informed Uncle Will about the apparition and, after some thought, he said she probably wanted her wedding ring. Over the years, the soft gold of the original had become worn so an inexpensive replacement had been purchased for every-day wear. They’d had matching rings when they’d gotten married, and Aunt Mary had been insistent that she be buried with the original.

They searched her bedroom and, in the dresser beside the bed, they found it in a small box.

Reasoning that Aunt Mary had returned to ensure her final request was carried out, Uncle Will took the ring to the morgue and placed it on Aunt Mary’s finger.

Perhaps that was the solution because the apparition never returned.

Since my family has experienced a long list of paranormal events, we don’t have the fear most people do when something like this happens. I expect the world would be a much happier and calmer place if more people would look at such things with an attitude of exploration rather than one of fear. I don’t see that a person without a body is any scarier than a person with one. And, if an apparition appears, it might be because they’re desperate to convey a message to those left behind.


Maybe we should pay attention – or risk a haunting by somebody like Aunt Mary!

D Kane