I’ve worked in three museums. Once as a student, once participating in a work/study/welfare program and currently as a librarian. I’ve also been the sole employee working alone in a Victorian Bed and Breakfast in the country for a summer. All these place reportedly have ghosts.
Why have I been thinking about ghosts this week? It is, after all, the middle of July. The middle of summer. A rainy, rainy, cold summer. 😦
At work, this week, we were sitting in the staff room discussing our ghost(s). According to the Boss, our summer student is not giving our ghost(s) their proper respect. He pooh poohs them. Speaks to them, of them, in a confrontational manner. And then wonders why he’s the only one hearing weird noises when he works alone.
The ghost(s) don’t bother me. I’ve worked in a few places that are purportedly haunted. The Victorian B & B was gigantic – three stories high plus a basement and ten guest rooms. Usually I was the only one there as the summer I worked the place was slowly going out of business. This had nothing to do with ghosts and lots to do with the fact that it was owned by a collective. Many cooks and all that.
When I open up alone at work. I say good morning to the air, I talk to the mannequins. At the end of the day, I say goodnight before I lock up. It feels silly but I’m not convinced that our museum is devoid of spirits. We’ve been entrusted with many precious family items and they come to us saturated in memories.
What is it about ghosts? Why the fascination? What comfort do I gain by believing in ghosts? Especially considering I’ve never actually seen one just felt them; calm, smiling, content.
Is it a sign of respect? Respect for those who have come and gone. Respect for those who have entrusted us with their objects and memories.
Is it a fascination with things, with objects and how they are used, abused and passed along? Definitely yes, I love old used objects. I love to know their true stories. I love to make up new stories about them. I love to pass on the stories. They are my connection to the past. The objects are. The stories are. The ghosts are. They are a connection to my ancestors. The ones I knew who are now gone and the ones I never got to meet.
It seems to me that everything is so disposable now. Who holds on to anything anymore for more than five years let alone a lifetime? I look around my apartment and there is one item here that I’ve had since I was three and maybe a half dozen childhood toys and other items. I am not a saver. I use things until they fall apart and then replace them.
I have carelessly tossed treasures aside. I inherited my sister’s Barbies. In my twenties, seeing no one to pass them on to, I donated them all to the Salvation Army second-hand store. I love antique and second-hand stores. Gone were the siwashes my mother knitted, the clothes I sewed on my mother’s trundle sewing machine, the original Barbie that my eldest sister got one Christmas. In my defense, no one else in my family said they wanted them and I do regret giving them away. However, I also hope that the child/ren who got them loved them to death.
I have also passed on things that have been loved to death. When I was a little girl, I badly wanted a Thumbelina Newborn baby doll. I never got one. So, in my early twenties I bought one for myself. My young nephew who had just acquired a new baby sister coveted my Thumbelina. I gave her to him over the objections of my chauvinistic brother-in-law. The doll was loved to death and thus never got the chance to become haunted.
If all of my generation is like this, what will our ghosts attach themselves to now? Do cell phones have a soul? Will ghosts develop in the machines? Will I attach myself to my blog and haunt future viewers far into the next century? Perhaps. Readers Beware! You may never get me out of your lives after that. ; -)
Ghosts are everywhere. They watch unobserved saying “I see you” and this is what I want. I want someone, in the future, to pick up the doll I got for my third Christmas and feel the joy I felt and to say “I see you. There you are. There you were. Hello.”
Take the time to examine what you’re clinging to. Maybe you no longer need in your life something that represents security. Pass it on to someone who will either love it to death or choose to preserve it. Ghosts of the past are active. Give them their proper respect. Remember them.
Ghosts of Vimy Ridge depicts ghosts of the Canadian Corps on Vimy Ridge surrounding the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Oil on canvas, painted in 1931. Canadian House of Commons Collection, (AN: O-4714). Artist: William Longstaff. This is a Public Domain Image.