; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Unintended Tale?

The following account was forwarded to me several years ago:

Hi Lon - I have a true story to share with you and your readers. This occurred in 1968 when I was 8 years old. My family lived in a large Italianate style home in western Pennsylvania. It had been my father's home when he was a boy and had been in his family since the 1850's.

At the time my paternal grandparents were living there as well. In fact, my aunt and cousins also lived in separate apartment that had been built onto the original house. We were a very tight knit family who were involved with a lot of the civic activities in our small community.

My grandmother loved to read stories to me and my cousins though most of the time it was only myself. She had a large sitting room on the 2nd floor filled with 19th century antiques. She preferred to read by candlelight as she did when she was a girl growing up in the same house. The atmosphere in the room was a throwback to a more simple time.

This particular evening had an ominous feeling to it. It was early July and the house was exceptionally warm. There had been a series of thunderstorms with pouring rain off and on for several hours. I tried to get comfortable in the sitting room while listening to my grandmother read but there was little relief. She had just read a short story from Grimm's Fairy Tales titled "God's Food":

There were once upon a time two sisters, one of whom had no children and was rich, and the other had five and was a widow, and so poor that she no longer had food enough to satisfy herself and her children. In her need, therefore, she went to her sister, and said, my children and I are suffering the greatest hunger. You are rich, give me a mouthful of bread. The very rich sister was as hard as a stone, and said, I myself have nothing in the house, and drove away the poor creature with harsh words.

After some time the husband of the rich sister came home, and was just going to cut himself a piece of bread, but when he made the first cut into the loaf, out flowed red blood. When the woman saw that she was terrified and told him what had occurred. He hurried away to help the widow and her children, but when he entered her room, he found her praying. She had her two youngest children in her arms, and the three eldest were lying dead. He offered her food, but she answered, for earthly food have we no longer any desire. God has already satisfied the hunger of three of us, and he will hearken to our supplications likewise. Scarcely had she uttered these words than the two little ones drew their last breath, whereupon her heart broke, and she sank down dead.

After she read the story I told her that I was going to the kitchen to get a drink of cold water. She looked over at me and said "...don't be long, you may miss something." I ran down the hallway to the kitchen and got my drink. I started to walk back towards the sitting room when I noticed a wispy white cloud rush out of the sitting room doorway and into my grandparent's bedroom across the hall. I was startled and immediately overcome with dread and apprehension. I walked slowly into the sitting room and knew right away that my grandmother had passed away. That same night my grandfather, who had been feeling ill and was lying on his bed at the time my grandmother died, passed away in his sleep.

A few years later, my 5th grade teacher gave each one of my classmates a list of literary collections in which we were assigned to pick a few favorite short stories and give a report to the class. Grimm's Fairy Tales was part of the list and I had no intentions on using any of the titles.

The next day my friend and classmate Linda came to my house after school. We were talking about the assignment and discussing which titles we would chose. As we read down the list we came to Grimm's Fairy Tales. Immediately Linda said "nope - no Grimm's Fairy Tales." I asked her "why?" She explained that something weird happened to her when she was younger and that Grimm's Fairy Tales brought back terrible memories. Wow! I asked "what happened?" Linda started to explain the scenario - it was a horrifying but familiar account.

When Linda was very young her father would read her and her sister bedtime stories. Every night their father would pick out a new short story. The girls looked forward to it since he would act out some of the characters. One night he decided to read "God's Food" though he had warned them that it was just a fairy tale and that it conveyed a message about having goodwill towards others. He quickly read the story then kissed each of them goodnight. About a minute later they heard terrible thumping and crashing sounds. They jumped out of bed and ran out onto the landing - to discover that their father had fallen down the stairs and had broken his neck. Their mother was hysterical and totally out of control - to the point that she never recovered from their father's death. She eventually becoming a recluse.

I was stunned by Linda's story. Since then I have wondered if this particular tale had caused other tragedies. I have researched for years but have never found anything similar to our experiences. Could these incidents be related somehow? What possible connection could the story and our situations have?

I still live in the family home with my husband and where we raised our three children. I would occasionally be visited by the spirits of my grandparents and they were always together. In fact, they still pay me a visit around the Thanksgiving holiday, which they both truly enjoyed in life. Linda and I are still very close friends but she misses her father deeply and wishes that he would find her one day. - JZ

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition

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