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On a personal note....

Footprints in the snow.
Footprints in the snow.Lynn Hinton

These are strange days indeed! Especially when the paranormal hits a little closer to home….

There have always been those little twinges of mysteries and occurrences that have happened in the southern section of Kentucky where my mother lives, but now that she draws closer each day to beginning a new journey, the activity has significantly ramped up in her home. Does approaching death ignite paranormal activity? Does the unseen become the seen? Regardless, it’s now gotten very personal!

My mom, Bobbie Joan Hinton, was born and raised in a small rural town in southern Kentucky on the fringes of Lake Cumberland. As the second oldest of a large family of brothers and sisters, she had to share space in a very small house where nightly sleeping arrangements were always the challenge. Needless to say, she couldn’t wait to escape and strike her own independence. She did, shortly after high school graduation, pulling up roots and following in the footsteps of her older brother Chuck by making tracks north to Indianapolis, Indiana.

She met my father at her first job at Mallory Industries, married, moved on to a career at Mayflower Movers, and at a point in time gave birth to two children—myself and my younger brother Kerry. She did made her final career switch to General Electric which eventually transitioned into AT&T. She worked there until she took retirement in the early 1990s.

Life had rolled steadily forward as it should during the 1970s and 80s, with no indication that it would be any different. Her sons weathered the rough years of high school at Warren Central and eventually graduated into the school of life when they left the nest and began to make their own mark. Kerry went into the Navy as a career and I pursued a streak of self-discovery in Portland, Oregon. My parents settled into a phase of comfortable existence in their brick ranch home on South Post Road while the years ticked away. The years always seem to lead to something monumental in the end!

In 1987 my father, Robert Hinton, unexpectedly died at our weekend home at Princes Lake just outside of Camp Atterbury in Johnson County. Stroke or heart attack? My mother was a basket case and I had to pull my big boy pants on and take over. I didn’t want to burden her with the ordeal of an autopsy so we had to just accept the fact that he was gone. I had returned from Oregon just a few years before and had had the opportunity to work with him once more in the family business, consequently developing more of a mature relationship with a father who had in the past been extremely critical of my long hair and rebellious views. And at his passing…the taking charge of the arrangements…I felt this was the hardest thing I would ever have to deal with in life; one being telling my father’s parents (my grandparents) that their son had died, on the following morning when I woke them out of their sleep at 6:00 AM. I did, but I was wrong. It has not been the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. There have been several of them, but it’s what’s currently happening with my mother, and all that entails, which seems to take the prize.

And my mother…she never quite got over or accepted my father’s sudden passing. It changed the direction of her life. And when you are hurting, there’s no place like home!

In the early 1990s my mother remarried. She thought that would make her happy and take away the pain. It did not. The house on Post Road on the far eastside of Indianapolis was sold, and they packed up and moved to the town of her youth. My mother had purchased a large brick ranch home in a private community just a ridge over from Jamestown. Her new husband was intrigued with the large expanse of lake to run his boat on. I helped with the move, and having a wife and young son, promised to visit as often as possible. Life however has a way of holding back good intentions; I didn’t make the drive south as often as I should have as the years passed.

The marriage ended and my mom was alone in a home much too large for just one person. Although her family was near, my mother chose to transition into a self-reliant mode, and did very well at it. And for all appearances she was completely at peace. She transformed her home and lifestyle into a place of her own choosing. She loved to shop and spend money. Her home became her showcase and a reflection of her personality as she outfitted it with definitely “too much stuff.” Weekly she would be found on her riding mower cutting her almost acre of yard, weeding and trimming. Visits from the family produced long sessions in the kitchen turning out the multi-course Kentucky meal. These were the things, while exhausting that made her happy!

A new cycle in my mother’s life had fallen into a comfortable niche and there was the general acceptance that all had grown well in the world and would continue to be. 2009 changed all that!

Mom contracted a case of spinal meningitis. Thinking it was just the flu she dosed herself with over the counter medications and tried to heal herself. She was the stubborn one…no doctors for her! I see where I get that same mindset. She collapsed in the sun-room of her house—alone—until the next day when she was found by her sister. She went into a coma and the local hospital soon realized they were out of their league and shipped her to the UK Hospital in Lexington. After a week of touch and go she gradually came out of it… Until she had a deliberating stroke that totally incapacitated her and changed the course of her life.

I put her into a nursing home in Columbia, Kentucky (my Aunt Jackie was a nurse there at the time and I figured it would be good to have family on the premise to watch over her and give that special touch). Nevertheless, her condition worsened, rehabilitation was getting nowhere, and she would never walk again, cook a meal, drive, shop, or cut her grass. She had become a prisoner of her own body. I brought her home.

We transformed the sun-room into a hospital room complete with a motorized elevating bed, lift, and reclining chair. My sister-in-law Lynn moved from Florida to become her full time caretaker. We anticipated a short term arrangement, yet mom seemed to improve in this home environment. This was 2009.

I have always felt southern Kentucky is a hot-bed of paranormal mystique brewing just below the surface. It’s just one of those feelings. Folks in the region won’t openly acknowledge it, but are more resigned to the fact of just letting it be and not discussing it. But they know…and silence seems to be the best option. It’s a region where the underlying currents are as vast as the history encompassing the hills, valleys, and lakes. Small towns are seeped in their stories and of a past that has defined an area. It would seem that some “things” have remained behind, while others are just now in the making.

My childhood experiences on these hot summer night visits from Indiana are directly responsible for my interest in the paranormal today.

Mom was born with a veil (caul) over her face. The caul is a remnant of the amniotic sac after birth. Myth persists that those born under these rare conditions are destined for great things and can be gifted with psychic abilities. They see the world with “different” eyes and generally become very spiritually orientated. Or at least the story goes. Mom, however, always put great stock in it.

Mom frequently told the story of, as a teenager, seeing her sister Betty Lou—who died at the age of two—playing in the air, laughing and frolicking as children do. This had happened in the broad daylight.

After my father’s death in 1987 I would occasionally ask her if he ever visited her. She would never directly respond, only getting a strange look in her eyes. However, it might appear he is presently.

As if having a premonition in 2006 she met with a local law firm to redraft her will, draw up a Living Will (Do Not Resuscitate), a Deed of Conveyance that gives her house to my brother and me, and appointed me as her Power of Attorney. There seemed to be a sense of urgency; and just three years later it all hit home! I began a crash course of dealing with a nursing home, doctors and hospitals, United Health Care and Medicare, home maintenance issues, annuities and CDs. My own personal life had become an extension of my mothers.

One of her objectives to moving back to Kentucky had been to be closer to her aging mother and help with her health concerns. One never quite gets away from needing their mom, regardless of the age or in whatever form or intentions. My grandmother passed away in 2004; my mom remained and carried on. Since her time in Kentucky she has lost not only her mother, but her older brother and a younger sister. She has also lost the person that she formerly was.

This rural stretch of Kentucky has always held an eerie feeling for me, even as a child when the troop of cousins would somehow make it down for the same weekend and create utter chaos for my grandmother. We would play in the front yard of my mother’s childhood home (the home that my uncle still resides in) as the sky darkened and the surrounding gravel roads would ultimately bleed into the night sky. We would collect fireflies, place them in a mason jar and dance about with our self-made lanterns as the night wind rustled through the leaves and across the adjoining field of tobacco. I would gaze into the darkness always feeling something was just beyond my reach and understanding: something ageless and hanging back for the moment. Yet…it always kept watch.

To this day, I still get that feeling.

Strange and unexplained things started slowly happening when my mom returned from the nursing home. Lynn reported noises…footsteps, doors closing, conversations caught in the monitor, and shadow movement in the rooms. They were infrequent and in no certain pattern. Weeks would go by with no occurrence. I wrote it off to either an overactive imagination or, if it were paranormal, something involving the land itself. I didn’t feel it was the house because mom had been the only owner.

A couple of years ago Lynn photographed a series of footsteps in the snow, leading from the sun-room outside door, across the patio and into the backyard. I paid attention to this. Mom began to have vivid dreams involving my father, his parents, and her mother. They would come to her in the night. These dreams became a part of her reality.

Presently my mother’s health has deteriorated rapidly in the last half year. I see the change and it is hard to witness. Coherent thought and speech is difficult for her. Recently she held my hand in hers, and with those clear blue eyes that has carried her throughout her own personal history (and the very same eyes she has bestowed upon me) she told me that she was suffering and wanted to go…to let her go…to help her go.

I held that hand—now smaller and more withered than I remember—and told her that I have been selfish…I want my mom…I don’t want her to go…I’m not ready. But everything comes around full circle in time and a certain sense of clarity begins to emerge. I realized I had been selfish, and thinking only of myself. And I told her it was ok… she could go on, and that I will always love her and cherish the memory of two very similar and stubborn people that have butted heads in the past, but at the end of the day found a mutual respect for the people they had become.

A tear rolled from those aqua blue eyes and down her cheek and she smiled…something she doesn’t do much of anymore. She had been released! This is why I know it won’t be long now.

Activity in the house has seemingly ramped up in the last few weeks as mom begins a downhill slide and hospice has been called per her doctor’s recommendation. Why is this? Is the increased activity related to those she has loved who have moved on before her? Are they there waiting?

Lynn has reported as of late:

  • An increase of footsteps and movement during the late night hours.
  • Hearing mom’s voice in conversation through the monitor. Many times her voice is fluid and coherent, as if she is younger and not ravaged by the affects of a stroke.
  • Other conversations heard throughout the house…low and indiscernible.
  • An increase of shadow movement.
  • Mom referencing “visitors” in her room and in the adjoining living room within her eyesight.
  • A leather strap with bells attached that hangs from the interior laundry room door leading into the garage jingling and no one is there. (The dogs react to this sound)
  • The dogs suddenly growling and barking in the early morning hours, reacting to something just outside Lynn’s closed bedroom door.
  • Lynn and another caretaker witnessing moms drink glass moving on its own accord across the kitchen island.

Does a paranormal investigator investigate his mother’s own house? Is there too much of a personal stake involved? I did, and it’s not a comfortable feeling. To have an infrared camera trained on one’s mother as she lies’ sleeping as an oxygen pump rhythmically cycles was not an easy decision. Nor were digital audio recorders trying to catch traces of jingling bells, footsteps, or voices. Do I really want to hear the voices of my father, grandmother, uncle or aunt? Good question. I suppose I will react when I do.

My legal birth name is Rickey. I shortened that way back in elementary school to just Rick; it sounded more mature. The only ones who still call me by that are my mother and relatives in Kentucky. And there are those times, even to this day, when I am awakened out of a deep sleep and sit bolt upright when a voice cries “Rickey” in my ear. It is always the voice of my mom.

I always imagine at those moments that the end has finally come. So far I have been wrong. Sometime soon, I will be right.

I can only hope to hear the voice of my mother for the rest of my life. It gives me great comfort.

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