“Save a ghost”

~PZI Miscellaneous Koans

Sometimes you can’t save a ghost, even if you want to. I love ghosts. Watching Ghost Adventures on the television with my daughter is probably one of my favorite things to do. And on this Dia de Muertos, my favorite spirits are family members: my mother and father. It’s now been five years since they passed, and I have several times visited with them in that dreamy space between waking and sleeping. I have met Carol perhaps six or eight times; usually she gives me advice or is impishly stealing her way into large family vacations. When she died her six children were around her; it was a good death. I don’t worry about her, she is in a good place.


Buck, I do worry about. He died a week before Carol, in the same hospital. I have seen him once in my dreams, and he was forlorn and homeless, wandering about a road, seemingly lost in purpose and place. Unfortunately, Buck died alone and distressed. In his last years and months he seemed to work hard at alienating those around him, frequently getting in arguments with his visitors and care-givers, one of whom he wanted to sue for alleged assault.

We kids tried, in various ways, to save Buck in the last years of his life. I visited, brought his grandkids (who he had a hard time connecting with), and found him a managed care facility. In the end, I realized ‘saving’ him was just my idea of making him who I thought he should be. What he really needed from me was something more generous: allowing him to be who he was, even if that was a very unhappy person. When I allowed him that, it was easier for me to be with him.

And maybe it was easier for him, as well. A couple of years ago, all his kids went up to San Andreas to lay his finished headstone. Afterwards, I looked at the pictures I took of his grave and could see in the dappled shadows a billowy ghost with a bright look and slight smile. I hope he is doing better now.

Let’s not save all the ghosts this Monday night at the Camp!