Spirit Touch - A Spooky (In a Good
Way) Experience at a Graveyard
By Mike Pax Dennis
Today is Saturday September 19th, 2009. My dear friend
Terry Jackson would have been fifty-four years old. He
was so very young to leave this world. I arrived in
Eaton, Ohio yesterday where I will be staying for three
days with his room-mate Donnie Stewart who is also very
sad about Terry's passing which took place May 9th of
this year, 2009, the day before Mother's day. After
settling in one of the first things I noticed on the
kitchen table was a beautiful birthday card with purple
flowers on it. Donnie invited me to sign it. He had
already written Terry a note telling him what a
wonderful friend he had been and how much he loved and
missed him. It felt good reading him say that he loved
Terry. How many times do we forget to tell our friends
how much they mean to us and how much we love them? Far
too few if you ask me.
Yesterday afternoon we visited Terry's site at the
graveyard. Donnie took a pair of clippers and snipped
the dead rose blooms. We were both surprised at how big
the rosebush has become. There was something like 25
fully bloomed roses and at least that many more that
would soon bloom. It's almost as though part of Terry's
beautiful sweet loving spirit is giving that rosebush
life moving force and energy. He always did like flowers
and I think of the times I'd visit him when he would
take out that orange plastic water container with the
long spout and water his flowers.
I still remember the tomato plant that I planted for him
back at his old apartment in 2007. We called it "Mr.
Mighty Giant Tomato Monster." It grew to humongous
proportions, even larger than my car. We were so
surprised because I have never seen a tomato plant get
so big. Terry faithfully watered it every single night.
Even when his legs hurt so bad he could barely walk and
a few times he fell down on the concrete porch and cut
his knee, he still was adamant. I'd help him up and say,
Terry, you don't have to do this. You are going to hurt
yourself. He would grunt as we both struggled to lift
him up. The next day he would be out there again on the
porch with that orange water spout container giving
water to Mr. Mighty Giant Tomato Monster. When we got
warning of the first frost I rescued the tomatoes and
was surprised at how many there were. I went home with
over 100 tomatoes and was enjoying them until mid
December. It was as though his loving attention and
daily ritual of watering them encouraged them to give
"Life" their best shot. I was also impressed at how they
seemed to know when to ripen. I never had more than
three or four fully ripe ones at the same time. And I
did not have to throw a single one out from over
ripening. Who says that plants and flowers do not
respond to love and attention?
As my thoughts returned to the present I noticed the
yellow trimmers with the American Gardener logo on it
and saw Donnie's note titled: Terry: Flower Shop. Get
Birthday Balloon. Laminate card and go to graveyard. At
graveyard take balloon, card, trimmers and camera. I
smile as I recall Terry often saying how Donnie had to
write everything down. Although they were room-mates and
lived in the same house Donnie would write Terry notes
or email him when he had something to ask instead of
just saying it to him in person. I found that amusing
and kind of surprising. I suppose we are all eccentric
in our own different ways.
Donnie went to work at noon today. After my morning
exercise of doing my pushups (I only did 74 today when I
usually do around 85) I went to Subway for lunch then
headed out for a three mile hike on the trail at the
park. A few tears trickled down my face as I recalled
the walks Terry and I used to take there. Then when his
legs got worse it became more difficult. I recall that
time he had to stop and lie on the ground and rest.
Going up the hill was very difficult and he almost fell
several times. I did not ask him to walk after that
because I really was not aware that his legs had gotten
After I came back to the apartment I looked at his king
size bed that I had neatly made this morning. Donnie
said that Terry would be more than happy to have me
sleep in his bed; and he commented on how happy Terry
always was to see me and how he looked forward to our
monthly visits. As his health got worse and he slowly
dwindled away it became increasingly more difficult for
him to keep food down. The doctors had diagnosed him
with cirrohsis of the liver over a year ago. He had had
a big part of his right ear removed due to cancer and an
imbalance of red blood cells and circulation problems
made it difficult for him to walk. Terry got to where he
threw up a lot and in the final few months he became a
total hermit, not once stepping outside the apartment.
No matter how sick he became he would not give up the
drinking. Perhaps he just could not. They say alcoholism
is a disease. I know that Terry drank to numb himself
and to get some relief from the constant chronic
depression that he suffered from. It became much worse
when the factory where he worked for some 23 years shut
down in September 2003. How ironic that was right around
this time in September when he lost his job. He tried to
get a new job. He looked around and he and Donnie had a
paper route for awhile. But I could tell that losing his
job did a lot of damage to his fragile psyche and tender
soul. I think that it is partly what broke his spirit
and caused him to slowly give up on life.
It is kind of strange how everybody is built differently
and how we all react differently to the hurdles and
boulders that life tosses in our direction. I'm a
fighter. A maverick and pioneer that plods ahead no
matter what happens. Sure I have my crises here and
there, problems as we all do. I fall into the deep pit
and abyss of depression sometimes. But I do now allow
myself to stay there. I just can't. I am not built that
way. I have lost jobs before and I always plugged away
until I found something else and it was usually
something better. But Terry, my sweet friend, was a
fragile soul. He was content to go to work everyday with
his room-mate Donnie who also worked at the same place.
Terry put in his time and even got some recognition and
awards for being a dependable and excellent worker.
Donnie often told me what a good worker Terry was and I
met his boss once who told me the same thing. Those are
the memories I like to remember about him instead of how
he slowly began to give up. For a time he lived on his
credit cards and finally applied for bankruptcy. His red
neon Pontiac that he loved so much was repossessed and
even his cell phone. By then he simply did not care
Although it broke my heart to see his life go downhill,
I always cared deeply for him. As deeply as one friend
can care for another. I meant it when I told him that we
were friends forever and I would never abandon him. I
loved him with an undying devotion, much as a mother
loves her Memorial no matter what he or she does or does
not do. Terry was a very simple man who was very
childlike and that appealed to me because in many ways I
am the same way.
I continued my ritual of honoring his memory. I looked
in his closet. There were still many pairs of blue jeans
hanging neatly although he and Donnie had left tons of
clothing at his old apartment for whoever moved in next,
or who decided to give them to Goodwill. He loved his
blue jeans. I spotted the box on the closet and noticed
the Boggle game in the box. He loved playing games and
would twinkle and laugh in Memoriallike glee every time he
beat me at Monopoly, Rummy or Payday. He was a big kid
at heart who would never grow up.
I looked at his tank tops. Terry was definitely a tank
top man and not a tee shirt man like I am. He loved his
bright tank tops in colors of red, yellow, orange and
some greens. I looked at his CD's and cassettes. How he
loved Rose Ann Cash. SavageGarden. Cher. Pink. Aretha
Franklin and Boy George. And his very favorite song of
all time was "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" that Ray Stevens
recorded. He'd play that song over and over so many
times that I was about ready to walk a mile in my shoes
so as to not hear it anymore. But I know that we are all
obsessive compulsive about some things.
As I was writing down my thoughts I looked up from the
computer on the shelf at the CD's and DVD movies. The
Brooks and Dunn was one of his favorite ones. Donnie
emailed me one day and said that since Terry passed away
that those CD's would move sometimes. He wanted to know
if I thought he was going crazy and losing his mind or
if I thought that Terry could be around and giving him a
sign. Why not I replied.
I thought back to what happened the last time I visited
in August. After making the bed I was smoothing out the
quilt folded at the edge of the bed. I felt the urge to
look underneath the quilt. Then I felt the urge to pull
back the sheet and I lifted up the mattress. Folded
neatly was a pair of blue jean shorts. I lifted them up
and cried as I recalled they were one of his favorite
pairs. Then I felt the urge to look in the pockets. In
the left pocket was a $50 dollar bill. I brought them
down to Donnie who also cried when I showed the shorts
to him. "They were one of Terry's favorite pair," he
said, placing them on the back of the couch. "There is
more," I said. I opened my hand and then handed him the
$50 dollar bill.
"I think Terry led me to these shorts, Donnie. I have
been visiting you here every month since Terry died and
I was never drawn to lift the mattress.
In a tearful voice Donnie said, "Mike, I am broke. I
have no money for anything until I get my SSI check next
week. I think Terry wanted to help out. I recall giving
him a $50 dollar bill about a week before he died. Thank
you so much, Mike. That money will come in very handy."
"You can thank Terry," I replied.
I looked at the exercise bike that I gave Terry a couple
of years back. Since he had difficulty walking I figured
that perhaps he could do a few laps on the bike. I
really didn't think he would exercise but to my pleasant
surprise he did. He always did his exercise ritual
around 5:30 p.m. after his favorite show "Ellen" went
off. He loved "Ellen". He'd begin by lifting his weights
and do several sets. Then he would crawl on the floor
and do his crunches and push ups and then he'd rest a
few minutes and complete his ritual by climbing on that
bike. For some reason I enjoyed watching him do his
exercises. To be a man whose health had been declining
over the past two or so years, he never gave up his
exercise ritual, or not until the last month or so
before he died.
Donnie came home from work at 3 p.m. I sat in the
recliner next to his. I enjoyed this because Terry
always took great pride in those two large recliners
that he paid $600 a piece for each one. He always did
like nice things. At 3:30 Donnie and I headed over to
the graveyard. The Happy Birthday Balloon that Donnie
bought for Terry kept bouncing and jumping about because
Donnie had the windows partially down to let fresh air
in the truck and to blow out the smoke from his
cigarette he was smoking.
Once we arrived Donnie took the trimmers and took it
upon himself to crawl on the ground and trim the grass.
Then he told me to place the balloon where I wanted.
There was a plastic clip attached to the bottom of the
blue ribbon which was about three feet long. I clipped
it on in two different places on one of the larger back
limbs of the rosebush. A breeze stirred up and blew the
balloon about. I was standing on the right side of the
rosebush. A few moments later the balloon tapped me on
the chest. I thought nothing of it due to the breeze. I
stepped about a foot or so to the left. The balloon
moved closer towards me and tapped me again. This is
probably a coincidence, I thought and stepped a few more
feet to the left. The balloon moved (as though following
me) and tapped me again on the chest. By now my interest
I sensed that something was up. I deliberately stood in
place. The birthday balloon tapped me a couple of times
but did not move more than a foot away. Donnie was
looking at me as though puzzled but did not say
anything. A few moments later I moved again towards the
left. By now I was standing directly in front of Terry's
tombstone; it was facing me opposite by about four feet.
The beautiful rose bush, an angel placed on the right
side of the stone, some artificial flowers and a cherub
placed on the ground completed the decorum very nicely.
I moved a few feet away and again the balloon followed
me and tapped me. By now I could not keep silent any
longer. "Donnie, I think something is going on here. I
think Terry's spirit is here. Have you noticed how this
balloon is following and tapping me on the chest?"
Donnie had a look of surprise on his face and his eyes
were kind of big. "Yes, it is quite strange."
"I think it's a sign from Terry," I replied. "I think
this is his way of letting us know that we are here
celebrating his birthday with him and thinking of him."
"I hope so."
I continued slowly moving around Terry's tombstone until
I made my way back to the right side where the balloon
originally started following and tapping me. I stood
still and Donnie and I engaged in some conversation.
Just to convince myself I was not imagining things, I
moved a few more times and sure enough the balloon
followed and tapped me a few more times. Then the breeze
picked up a little bit and the balloon just bounced
around in all directions. I found that I was missing my
little balloon taps. I closed my eyes and mentally said,
"Terry, if you are really here please have the balloon
tap me one final time. It bounced around a little bit
longer then the breeze slowed down. The balloon slowly
made its way towards me. It did not tap me right away.
It was as though Terry was having a little fun or maybe
testing me. I was about to think that Terry had taken
off when sure enough the balloon moved and tapped me
right on my chest near my heart. "Thank you," I said,
silently. "This is the sign that I needed. Happy
Birthday, my sweet friend and know that Donnie and I
will always love you. You are the best friend that we
There were tears falling down my face when we walked to
the truck and headed back to Donnie's apartment. I
thought about the balloon experience and the birthday
card that Donnie and I signed. Well we did more than
sign the card. Donnie wrote him a half page letter and I
wrote a couple of paragraphs. Donnie said he would have
the card laminated on Monday and bring it back and put
it next to the angel on the right side of the tombstone.
Then a thought occurred to me and I posed a question to
Donnie. "Do you think that we perform such rituals to
comfort the Living or the Dead?"
He looked at me but did not reply. I smiled and said
softly ,"Maybe we perform our rituals to comfort
ourselves and our beloved departed ones.
I knew that there were more tears that I would shed. It
was not out of a desire to wallow in grief and sorrow.
It was out of a genuine 'missing' of a dearly beloved
friend who I had known for nearly eight years. Terry had
taught me so much about the simplicity of friendship and
human love. To be such close friends always surprised me
because Terry and I really did not have that much in
common. I had a college degree and had done graduate and
doctoral studies. Terry did not complete high school. I
was an intellectual, scholar, writer, poet, professional
psychic, and I spoke French, Spanish and some German and
Italian. I was a trained opera singer and had traveled
quite extensively. Still there was something about him
that touched my heart.
Perhaps it was being so different that so endeared me to
this sweet unusual man. Visiting him was like going to a
retreat for a few days. I did not have to deal with
clients, books, marketing, Psychic Festivals, Emails,
Phone calls, and such things. I always enjoyed the
getaways and when I would leave I would always be sad.
I'm sure that Terry felt the same way although I never
asked him. There are some things that we just feel and
know without talking.
It took so little to make Terry happy. Just hanging out
on the back patio grilling hamburgers and hotdogs and
listening to oldies music was his idea of a good time.
While sipping his vodka and coke he'd often get up and
dance. He was a very good dancer and the few times that
we did go out, he would dance and people would notice
and often compliment his dancing.
Terry enjoyed watching an occasional horror or science
fiction movie. He loved playing cards and Monopoly. He
was a homebody, and did not go out very often. Although
he did not earn a lot of money at the factory he was
always very good and responsible with his money. Perhaps
his emotional maturity was something like that of a
twelve year old boy, but that only endeared me more to
him, and perhaps brought out the part of me that likes
to 'parent' my friends. He loved teddy bears of all
sizes and he had quite a collection from those I had
gotten him for his birthday and Christmas. My friend
Lori once commented that a grown man who collects teddy
bears and always has to have a pillow to hold was not in
his right mind. I told her that she was wrong and it was
part of his simplicity, sweetness and innocence that
made him special.
Perhaps in a previous life he was my Memorial and that
brought out the mothering side of me. I loved preparing
care packages for him and often mailed them to him. He
loved vienna sausages, peanuts, M and M's, chocolate
malt balls, potato sticks, and peanut cheese crackers.
Some packages I would mail on his birthday or holidays
and others I would put together on a moment's whim and
surprise him. The magical glow in his eyes when he would
open his presents at Christmas and his Easter basket was
far worth the cost and effort to put those goodie bags
together. Although his spelling and writing were not
very good, he still loved to write. I have an entire box
of letters and cards he wrote me over the years. He
always told me how much he loved me and I don't believe
that hearing those words from a parent, family member or
spouse could mean anymore than hearing them from him.
There was something almost other worldly about Terry.
Something magical or even angelic. I could see how the
coldness, selfishness, greed, and hatred rampant in this
world could cause such a soul to retreat in his own
I was told many years ago that we do not get to pick and
choose who we love be they friends, lovers, family etc.
We meet the souls we have agreed to meet and work out
and balance more karma from past lives where our
relationships were not in balance. Otherwise put, we
come back to complete unfinished business.
I wonder if I will meet Terry in a future lifetime. I
wonder how many lifetimes we come back over and over to
be with those we love? I do not know the answer and
perhaps we cannot know that answer until we cross over
to the other side. Perhaps we are not allowed to know
But what I do know is that it is a blessing when we open
our hearts and let love in even when we have known great
sorrow and disappointments from our experiences with
human love. I believe that angels come in many shapes
and forms. My sweet friend may very well have been an
earth angel, albeit it a tortured one in many ways. I
hope that maybe I was able to touch his heart and soul
because in spite of his inability to control the inner
demons that eventually took his life, I always knew that
my friend Terry was a beautiful person. I try to
remember that when I recall the bad times and sad
memories. Things were not always good. We had some very
tough times and big fights but they seem so
insignificant now compared to the priceless precious
memories that I cherish in my heart.
From now on every time I see a balloon I will think
about my friend Terry and a smile will come across my
face. September 19th, 2009 was a special day. I was
blessed with a genuine experience of 'spirit touch' from
my beloved departed friend on his birthday. I have the
feeling we will somehow always be in touch. For that I
I was born and raised in Kentucky and currently reside
in Cincinnati, OH where I have lived since 1989. I
graduated from Berea College in Berea, KY in 1980 with a
BA in French and minors in Psychology, Spanish, German,
English and Voice. I did graduate work at Indiana
University, Bloomington, IN in Education and Masters and
Doctoral work at the University of Cincinnati 1990/1991
in French Language and Literature. I taught French,
Spanish and Language arts in public schools for several
Writing many other things also appeals to me. I love to
write self-help and Psychology Articles and books. I
love to write about my Paranormal, and Psychic
Experiences, and I love to write humorous books.
I also have my writing heroes/heroines. Walt Whitman,
whose Leaves of Grass has been my bedside companion for
many years and will be until I leave this world. E.E.
Cummings. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thomas Mann. Kahlil
Gibran (notably THE PROPHET), Rumi. St. Teresa de Avila.
Henry David Thoreau. Paul Verlaine. Arthur Rimbaud.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Edna St. Vincent Millay. I
adore Emily Dickenson, Edgar Allen Poe and many others.