A gray chilly day, post-rain, surrounded by trees filled with orange leaves, shedding the last of their seasonal color. Wearing an all-black ensemble–because that’s what she likes to wear for most of October–she wanders around the old cemetery, careful not to walk on, but around the grave sites. Not exactly sure of what she is in search of, but feeling oddly comfortable, almost….at home.
Ok, so that’s not the beginning of a spooky, short story, that’s exactly what I did last Wednesday. What can I say, I like to hang with dead people. They don’t talk back and they seem to be quite welcoming. You may be wondering how I found myself walking around in a cemetery all by myself. I’d be wondering that too. I suppose my love for most things macabre started when I was about eight or so, maybe even a touch younger. Our mom would pick us up from our Grandma Manos’ house, which happened to be near a pet cemetery. You see, I would have never known that there was a graveyard for pets who have passed away, but apparently my mom did and she felt it was necessary to have us know as well. I can recall almost every time she’d come to swoop us up after a weekend at her mom’s house, I would beg her to take us to the cemetery. I can remember seeing little grave stones with photos of beloved pets that were no longer. They were tiny little tombstones with names like Sparky and Mr. Bojangles carved into them. I loved going to each tombstone to read about how these furry friends made such an impact on their owners’ and family’s lives. Of course, there is the spooky element of cemeteries, yes. But, there is also something so peaceful about them. Something that makes me feel relaxed and, dare I say, happy? I know that sounds really weird and fucked up, but it’s true. And to be honest, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Between the ages of 10-16, I seriously thought I was a witch. Or well, at least I really, really, really wanted to believe that I was one. My mom would take me to Walden Books in Western Springs and I would sit cross-legged in front of the “spell books” section. They seriously had a shelf dedicated to books filled with curses. After an hour, I would grab a book of spells, or two, head home and perform some white magic. Basically, I would set “good” spells. You’ve got to be a real asshole to do black magic. If you know anything about witchcraft, you’d know that any spell you cast comes back at you threefold. So yeah, it’s in your best interest not to cast spells to hurt or harm people. What I find funny is, here I am, twenty-something years later, teaching yoga, meditating, still burning shit and sending out good karma. I guess you’d say, I’m a new-age witch of sorts. I went by Wiccan for several years and then eventually transitioned into a vampire slayer. Mhhhmmm, yup. Had a bag packed with a Bible, holy water, a homemade stake, a pocket knife and mace – for human creeps. I’d hang out in the courtyard at our local church with a statue of Mary waiting for vamps to show up. Sadly, no bloodsuckers dared to enter the church grounds. I should have known better. Total amateur move.
Let’s get to the present. Currently, I am turning our home into a full-on haunted house. I’m not sure how Anthony is okay with it, but he doesn’t utter a peep…which means he’s probably mentally preparing to live in a home fit for a vampire for the next two weeks. I have more skulls that I can count. I have a playlist of Halloween songs that I listen to on repeat. Tunes like “Thriller”, “Werewolves of London” and some hits by Harry Belafante. The other day, I was cruising around town listening to the theme song from the movie, “Halloween”. Have you ever listened to that little ditty? It literally sounds like what a serial killer would listen to while driving around. Here, have a listen. To really get into the spirit of Halloween, I shall make my way to a couple other old-ass cemeteries before the 31st. Most recently, I visited Chicago’s supposedly haunted Rosehill Cemetery where I checked in on some ghost stories. From there, I will make my way to Graceland Cemetery as well as Bronswood Cemetery in Oak Brook. I do have a couple rules when visiting those that are no longer with us. They are as follows: always greet your dead friends, try to walk around–and not on–their GD gravesite, that’s just plain rude, and, lastly, on the way out, thank them for letting you visit and take photos. Trust me, you don’t want to bring home any pissed off spirits. No thank you.
Allow me to share with you some photos I took while at Rosehill. It is a truly breathtaking graveyard filled with people from way back. If you ever find yourself on the north side of Chicago, I highly recommend you take a drive through. I wish I could say that you’ll spot a ghost in one, but you won’t. Damn it. Wish me luck on my next ghostly adventure.
Here lies Frances Pearce Stone and her daughter of the same name. In 1854 the mother passed away…sadly, two months later her daughter would as well at 10 months old. All records of how they died burned many years ago in The Great Chicago Fire, so it will likely forever remain a mystery. Or my new goal in life to figure out how. The husband was beyond stricken with incredible grief after losing both his wife and young child that he commissioned a sculptor in Rome to create a monument to immortalize the two Frances’ that left him far to soon. This is the most photographed monument in Rosehill Cemetery and for obvious reasons. The beauty of the seemingly sleeping mother and child is quite breathtaking. However, it is also supposedly haunted. It is said, that on the anniversary of the mother’s death, the glass case begins to fill with mist and fog. Some believe it is the elder Frances reaching out to the world of the living from behind her forever home.
Do tell…what’s a spooky Halloween tradition you partake in?
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