My Uncle Mike was a grizzly white haired Greek who spoke little to no English when my father invited him to stay in our house in North Philadelphia. I don’t know if he really was a blood relative, but he was one of the meanest mother-humpers I had ever come into contact with as a child.
He would yell in his home language and I understood nothing but his extreme displeasure. He looked like he was 100-years-old as his eyes would open loudly and his voice continue to rise in what I perceived as unintelligible sentences.
He died shortly before we moved from the house and I had not returned to that section of Brewerytown until decades later. I had not thought about Uncle Mike until I was serving as a public defender in Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center and an African American police officer approached me outside the courtroom
He introduced himself as Sgt. Washington and asked me if I ever lived in Philadelphia. It turns out he lived on the same street and was a year younger. He also told me that I had helped him to learn how to read when I was in third grade and would set out on the steps to do my homework. I showed him a few things and I guess it helped him to get over whatever problems he had with reading. I couldn’t believe that such a small act could affect someone. (See “Karma in the Courtroom“!)
He then told me that he knew the folks that moved into my family’s old house. They didn’t stay very long. For they soon saw and heard an apparition of a crazy looking white guy with long white hair and the scariest looking wide open eyes who screamed in some foreign language.
It was Uncle Mike still trying to connect with someone who might understand him. His ghost haunted the old house!
I recently drove down that Marston Street where we once lived. The house is no longer there. A vacant lot now greets you where our red brick building and white steps once existed.
I guess someone thought it wise to help the ghost move on to another existence by removing what may have been holding it to this plane.
You may rest in peace now, Uncle Mike . . .