I have always loved a good ghost story. As a child, I was Scooby Doo’s biggest fan and lived for Sunday nights when the Hardy Boys would come one. I always hoped it was a spooky one! When I was a little older, I would stay up all night reading Stephen King during summer breaks.Like I said, I love a good ghost story. But nothing could prepare me for a real ghost encounter. Because I don’t thinks ghosts are actually what we think they are at all. You see, a couple of weeks ago while visiting my hometown, I encountered my grandmother’s ghost.My grandmother isn’t dead, mind you. She’s 87 years old and still (for the moment) lives on her own in the tiny little house that she’s spent the last 60 years in. A house that is that is steeped in dust and clutter and memories. Memories of her late husband (my grandfather), memories of her two grown children, four grown grandchildren and four great grandchildren.Like many who grew up during the depression, she cannot let go of anything and her house is like an archeological dig. Within minutes of arriving, I’d found a Vinny Barbarino doll from 1977 and a pocket calendar from 2006. Ghosts.So, how can I claim to see her ghost if she is still alive? Because she is a thin, frail version of her former self. She wanders the hall with her shocking white hair…up and down several times a night to check the thermostat because she’s freezing. Because her mind and memory are going from dementia and she seems to spend more time floating in her memories than in the present.She terrified me, my mother and two of my sons with her after hours roaming. We started to jokingly call her “the Grammy Ghost.”It’s like she’s still alive but on her way out. She is slowly fading from this world and will someday (soon, I’m afraid) simply disappear. But why? Maybe it’s just the natural way of life and is what happens to all of us. But I don’t think that’s the whole story.I heard a review once of a book in which all the people in a little town are suddenly able to remember every single thing that has happened to them through their entire lives. And it is unbearable.I think what’s happening to my grandmother is something like that. She has lived for so many years within the walls of her tiny house. A house that seems to sag from the weight of the dust and the memories. Her inability to let go of unnecessary material possessions only keeps her tightly tied to all the memories associated with those possessions. In turn, she has become the one possessed. Bound to wander the hallway in the darkness. Crying out for my grandfather at every strange sound.My family has a history and a habit of not letting go of things. I am vowing to change that for myself this year. I am surrendering all the memories and the stories from my childhood that cause me pain. I am forgiving all my loved ones of their transgressions. For my sake… not theirs. I don’t want to become a living ghost that is bound to repeat the same painful patterns over and over again. I don’t want to suffocate myself and my loved ones in layers of memories and dust.My story is not a ghost story. It is a story of redemption, forgiveness and survival. It is also a love story. A self-love story. What’s yours?xoxo, Jenni BJournal Prompts ~1) What stories or images haunt you from your past?2) What painful memories are you choosing to hold on to?3) How can you find forgiveness for those who have hurt you?4) Are you willing to forgive yourself?