Several decades before our family immigrated to the U.S., my grandfather was killed in action during World War II. My mother was very close to him and once every five years would travel back to Italy for his memorial. The family would celebrate his memory by throwing a huge, weekend-long party, which was also used as a reunion.
When I was nineteen, I traveled with her for the first time, as our family were blue collar workers and not able to afford multiple airfares. Seeing as ghost stories were far from my mind, what happened after we arrived still amazes me to this day. It all started on the first night when we arrived in Italy, which seems like eons ago.
Mom and I got to my Aunt’s place and had a quick supper. I went off to bed while Mom and my Aunt caught up. Spending several hours tossing and turning, I eventually got up and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. It’s hard for me to explain but I felt that I just had to go for a walk – without telling Mom for some unknown reason.
I got dressed and snuck out the back, keeping to the shadows and making my way to the street. My heart was racing and I didn’t know why. The streets were empty and so incredibly silent that I wondered if I was dreaming. I felt drawn along a particular path and soon found myself in the square, which was shrouded in a dense mist.
Something about the mist made me feel that I was not alone
As I walked through the square, I began to see a large fountain in the center, so I started to walk over to it like an excited child. When I was about ten feet away I saw a shadow come around from behind it. My blood froze, making me stop in my tracks as I watched the figure – seemingly drinking from the fountain.
It sounds strange but I felt like I knew the shadowy figure, so I took a few more steps towards the fountain. I gasped when the figure suddenly vanished right before my eyes! I walked around the fountain and even called out in Italian – asking if anyone was there. A warm sensation washed over me, making me feel protected.
Even though the scene was obviously scary with the grey mist in the streetlights, I felt protected somehow. When I started to walk away, the hairs on the back of my neck prickled. I turned around and the shadow was back at the fountain having a drink. Feeling safe, I walked back and called out again – but it vanished for the second time.
It dawned on me that I was a witness to the paranormal
I pretended to start walking off, feeling like the shadowy ghost was playing tricks on me or might’ve been shy. Then I quickly turned and rushed back – surprised when I saw that the figure was a soldier. Before he vanished again, he smiled and the lovely cloak of warmth swarmed over me.
Somehow I knew that he wouldn’t reappear until after I was gone for good, so I reluctantly went back to my Aunt’s. When I came in the back door, Mom and my Aunt were rinsing out their wine glasses at the sink. Mom was surprised and told me off for leaving the house without telling them. I couldn’t help smiling.
When they asked me what I was smiling for, I told them about my experience at the fountain and how excited I was to have come face to face with a ghost – and that it wasn’t as frightening as I thought it would be. Both Mom and my Aunt started asking many questions about what he looked like, then my Aunt went and grabbed a photo album.
She showed me an old photo of a man drinking at the fountain in broad daylight. I was stunned, as it was the same man that I’d seen. It was my grandfather! We were all amazed that his spirit still haunted his favorite spot. It also explained the warm feeling he gave me. Far from being afraid, I will treasure that experience for the rest of my life.