Our house, apartment really, was on the second floor of the YMCA in Fort Monroe, Virginia. I was 4. I remember this particular house from my childhood because it was like living in a playground and haunted house all in one.
My Grandfather was Director of the YMCA. The Director was given living quarters on the 2nd floor of the Y. The apartment had 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a huge storage room just off my bedroom. The building had been built at the turn of the Century and was big, very big. An olympic pool in the basement, full size basketball court on the 3rd floor, a snack bar, a music room, a library and a large dance room for parties.
Being the Directors granddaughter brought many perks. The school bus would pick me up in front of the Y, for some reason an MP always escorted me to and from the bus. Lunch was at at the snack bar. When I got home from school I had many play areas to choose from. A swim in the pool, a go at basketball or a ride on my bike through the moats that surrounded Fort Monroe. I loved to read and many afternoons were spent with my nose in a book, any book. Once I learned to read I was insatiable. Reading was an escape for me. From what you ask, sounds like an idyllic, fun place to spend a childhood. It was for the most part until my mother came for a visit.
My mother was an enigma I didn’t understand. She was a little off. My mother was a free spirit, a gypsy who gave birth to 3 children all with different fathers. We know who your father is, she used to quip, we’re not sure about your mother. I never understood.
After we were born my grandparents took over the job of raising us. My brother was 9 years my senior and was away at Military School when I lived at Fort Monroe, I have a younger sister who was born when I was 5. I might as well have been an only child. We were never raised together.
My mother came to visit holidays, and my birthday. It was an exciting and frightening time for me. When mother came her friend Lance would always show up. He never leaves, she would say, Lance lives in the storage room off your bedroom. You see Lance was a ghost.
Mother would go into that room and have conversations with Lance. She would invite me in to talk with him on occasion and on every occasion I declined. Lance was real to her and very real to me. At bedtime I could not have any body part protruding from under covers, Lance might touch me. I would sleep in one spot on the bed not moving all night, I would wake up in the same position I had started in the night prior, this way I would not feel Lance if he happened to leave his room and try my bed out for size. Was this cruel on my mothers part? Maybe. I knew, at a young age, that my mother was different. My grandmother said “don’t let your mother scare you, she has a sickness in her head”.
So even though our house was the most fun and my friends loved to come visit, my childhood memories of this home are a mixture; love from my grandparents, fear of my mother and her friend Lance. That, coupled with the knowledge that not all my friends had a ghost who lived off their bedroom, made it rather lonely. You see Lance was a secret I could not share.