Friday, October 26, 2007

Haunted Atchison

Last night, I embarked on a road trip to Atchison, Kansas to go on the Haunted Atchison Tour with my friend Amanda. Her excitment and amusement upon hearing about the tour, which was featured on Travel Channel, made me book spots for the two of us aboard the tolley tour. I was scared, but not of the long legends of ghosts that wonder many of the beautiful Victorian mansions in Atchison, but those ghosts of my past.

This was the first time returning to the quaint rail road town that borders the Missouri river since Mom passed away. Although she wasn't living in Atchison at the time, I think if Mom had a choice her spirit would be sitting in one of those very houses we stopped by on the tour. Atchison was home to her.

Mom lived in Atchison twice during her short life: during college (I was in grade school) and then later in life when my sister attended college there. The town for me isn't haunted with infamous ghosts of Sally or Molly, but rather those memories of Mom. Returning was like looking at a photo album.

At each turn of the trolley, there's the house she lived in on 2nd street, there's the house she and my sister lived in on 10th street, there's the pharmacy I used to go pick up her medication from, there's where I attended school as a youngster. And each time my breath would catch in my throat, and I would remember some long-forgotten memory, such as when we were little and my sister and I talked Mom into getting a real, live Christmas tree. Well, three girls and large Christmas tree isn't a very balanced equation. After it was wrestled up the stairs and an attempt made to get it in the stand, we needed a break. Mom hollered breaktime and let go of the tree...she let it fall right onto my sister trapped into the corner my mom had released it to. I can't remember if my sister cried. I can't even recall what Christmas Day was like or how we ever got the tree in its stand. I just remember Mom.

Atchison holds a lot of memories, some good (Christmas tree) and some bad (learning Mom has cancer), but returning to Atchison wasn't as near as painful as I thought it would be. Atchison has changed, which is only fitting, because I've changed too.
I expected ghosts, but Mom wasn't among them—neither was Sally or Molly.

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