Monday, October 22, 2012

13 Days of Halloween: Behind Ghost Light by Mary Cunningham

Growing up in Indiana, my love of basketball, and, for that matter, just about any sport, was a natural fit with one of my husband’s most vivid ghostly childhood memories.

This was the plan every weekend the Cubs were in town: A visit to his grandmother's brownstone loft apartment that overlooked Wrigley Field in Chicago. Oppressive summer heat, mixed with the smell of the Ben Gay Grandma Sutton used for numerous aches, pains, and disabilities, was small price to pay for the privilege of sitting in her window, watching every pitch and every swing and every home run.

That all changed the night he woke to a brilliant ball of light that moved slowly across the bedroom wall until it settled in the middle of his chest. Was it simply the imagination of an eight-year-old? Maybe car lights? Couldn't be. His window faced a nearby brownstone. He bounded from the bed with a sharp intake of breath and raced down the hallway toward his parents' room. Just a bad dream, they assured him. Go back to sleep.

Early the next morning, the phone rang with news that his grandmother had died during the night; close to the time he encountered the mysterious light. His logical thinking, engineer dad dismissed the idea of any connection to his son's nightmare, but his free-spirited mother thought it possible that grandmother visited grandson, one last time.

Decades later, my husband chooses to believe the light that settled near his heart that night was his grandmother's way of saying good-bye.

But, he still can't stand the smell of Ben Gay

Mary Cunningham, author

Considering my background, consumed with Hoosier basketball, I appreciate his summers spent sitting in that window yelling for his beloved Cubbies. From the time I was old enough to sit on bleachers, my dad took me to high school basketball games, patiently explaining the rules. Sometimes yelling at "awful calls" made by those men in the black and white striped shirts. Writing Ghost Light about Jake McMillen's dreams of becoming a star basketball player while dealing with his grandmother's illness, was a natural fit. I could stay true to my roots and still honor my husband's memories of his grandmother's final visit.

Ghost Light Blurb:

11-year-old Jake McMillen wants, more than anything in the world, to play varsity basketball for the Panthers, just like his late, Grandpa Max. One big problem. While Jake inherits his grandfather’s love for the game, the McMillen height passes him by. 

Not only that, “old people” like his grandmother, keep taking up too much of his precious practice time. He knows she’s sick, but being dragged along to her steamy apartment cuts into the afternoon pick-up game at the Island basketball court.

After being humiliated during a game by star player, Quinn Parker, Jake gets a ghostly message that changes his outlook toward his grandmother’s illness and inspires him to pursue his dreams.

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly as it happened. I have no trouble remembering every detail. I know it was Grandma saying good-bye to me. The most important thing is that 60 years later I have this connection allowing her presence to prevail. Ken C


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