Upon reading the title of my book, Don't Call Them Ghosts, one of the first thoughts that probably enters a prospective reader's mind is "Oh no, another ghost story." My emphatic response is "Don't call them ghosts, please." The first time I made that statement was the Christmas Eve of our first year in the Fontaine Manse. My husband had returned from midnight church services with our daughter. I had had a very eventful evening with my own children and three little spirits that would become known to me as my other children. I came downstairs to meet him in the entryway of the old Victorian house, to keep him from making too much noise. I had some real difficulty convincing our five-year old to finally quit talking and go to sleep or Santa would never come.
Our daughter went upstairs to her bedroom, and George and I stood in the dining room between the huge Christmas tree and the fireplace, just having a few quiet minutes alone. He softly asked me if my little ghosts had been behaving themselves. He might just as well have poured a bucket of ice water on my head because I broke the tranquil mood by turning on him like a snake and rudely replied, "Don't call them ghosts!" George, being the husband that he is, pulled me into his arms and said he hadn't meant anything negative by it. Of course he hadn't. I realized then, as did he, that these children had become an extension of my own family and I had become that proverbial protective mother hen to the three young spirits who belonged in the Fontaine Manse.
Many times over the years I considered writing about our experiences while living with these unseen children, but it seemed to me that people were not ready to accept this scenario as nonfiction. I am a certified professional secretary, and for the past twenty-five years I've worked for presidents, executive vice presidents, general managers, and others at the top of the corporate ladder. I personally was not ready to risk having one of my bosses think of me as being less than professional or that perhaps his secretary was a bit ditzy.
In 1996 I felt like the time was right. The general public was now being programmed to accept angels among us, and Sylvia Brown had become a household name. After I wrote the book, I asked the two youngest children to read it. Ward read it and loved it. Being a journalist, he made a few personal comments and was encouraging. Duncan, on the other hand, our youngest son and probably the main player in this cast of characters, was highly opposed to my writing this book and he did not read it. "
I truly considered Duncan's perspective, but felt that we had a special experience that should be shared. I told him then that the book would probably never be published because it had no sex, no violence, no bad language, and none of the terror that goes along with ghost stories. But I wanted to write the story so that I didn't forget it as I got older. Duncan's last comments were, "Don't use my real name."
The things that happened in the Fontaine Manse are not likely to ever be forgotten, but memory fades as one gets older and I didn't want to lose any of these precious and extraordinary memories. Against Duncan's pleas, I wrote Don't Call Them Ghosts. At his insistence, I did not use his real name. Until the final edit just weeks ago, I used the name Sean to refer to Duncan. Duncan is proud of his Scottish heritage, and has a very Scottish name. In keeping with that, I thought Sean would suffice. Then a couple of years ago, Duncan went through some critical health problems. I asked him, since he had so much time on his hands, would he consider reading my book? He did. He called to tell me that he loved the book and that it brought back so many memories of his childhood. He told me he laughed and he cried. He told me I could use his real name because I had used everyone else's real name and anyone who reads it would know who he was anyway. He also gave me the name of a publisher he thought I should send the manuscript to: Llewellyn Worldwide Publications. The rest is history.
This was an easy story to write. I simply went from start to finish through the years we lived there, giving a near verbatim account of how our lives mingled with the lives of these three children. To my startled surprise, as well as my husband's, I learned that to our children, the secret of the Fontaine Manse was never a secret.
My hope for the reader of Don't Call Them Ghosts is that they come away with more of an open mind to the fact that what we see is not all there is. And, should they ever encounter a spirit left behind, don't assume it is evil, wicked, or negative. Assume that it isn't.
Just for the record, I display in my home today a small toy cannon that was in the attic of the house when we moved into it. In a very unique way, it was a gift to me from the spirit children of the Fontaine Manse that first Christmas we shared.