"The 172d Birthday Gift and Sunrise Piano Recital:
Visit from John McMonegal Park and Martha Cobb,
7 Dec 1999 & 20 April 2000"
On 7 December 1999, I came home from work to find my son, Brandon, then 15 years of age, in a nervous state with an ashen complexion as if he’d seen a ghost.Little did I realize that he was about to confirm this fact moments later. Brandon, who has never experienced any paranormal occurrences and is skeptical of such accounts, explained that he was vacuuming the hallway carpet when he looked up and down the hall to see the sight that made his hair stand up on his neck and quickened his pulse.What he saw was the darkened figure of a very large man, more than 6’ 2" in height and with a large build.While the utter blackness of the specter blocked the hallway light out in the background, its profile was highlighted by the same light that served to give an almost angelic glow to this ominous figure, though preserving the secret of his faceless features. A few seconds later, the visitor’s disappearance was as abrupt as its arrival had been—without sound or physical trace.
Because I am open-minded to life after death as a Christian, I am also steadfast in my belief that we are narrow-minded as a race, if we are of the opinion that sensations, in all forms, can only be interpreted solely by the 5 human senses.With this in mind, following Brandon’s recanting of his harrowing experience, my immediate response was to proceed to our family genealogy library, located in the upstairs bedroom, which stood at the opposite end of the hall from where Brandon had his encounter.I believed that I would find a corresponding date of birth or death of someone in our direct line to coincide with this spiritual visitation. Sure enough, I quickly discovered that my 2d Great Grandfather, John McMonegal Park, whose grave my father and I found on 9 June 1999 in the Richmond Cemetery located in Kentucky, was born 7 Dec 1827.I told Brandon that I believed the man he saw to be the spirit of John McMonegal, his 3rd Great Grandfather who was married to Martha Cobb.
A few weeks later, I spoke to my Aunt, Martha Park-Lamb of Danville, Kentucky, who lives not far from Richmond. I asked her if John McMonegal was a large man to which she quickly exclaimed "Oh, golly, yes!"She added that John and Martha’s son, William Henry Park I, my Great Grandfather, was also tall with a rather large build.I then toldher about Brandon’s experience, which she found very fascinating. I recalled at that time reading that Martha Cobb was musically inclined and loved playing the piano.
All was forgotten, save for those few I trust to occasionally confide in about this family experience--until Brandon’s 16th birthday on Thursday, 20 April 2000 that is.On this day, we ate dinner at Peaden’s, a popular seafood restaurant in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where we have resided since 13 August 1997.During the course of dinner, Pam asked Brittany Lynn, our 14 year-old daughter, why she chose to play the piano at 6AM that morning, while everyone else was asleep (I was in the driveway at 5:45AM waiting for a ride to work as the family van had a fuel pump problem).Brittany, who is the only family member who can play the piano at all, retorted--"Mom, I wasn’t playing the piano this morning and besides, I know better than to do something like that so early!"I smiled, gazing at my bride of nearly 18 years, and spontaneously, though calmly, said "It was Martha"."What?!" said Pam. "It was Martha Cobb", I repeated, reminding her of Brandon’s paranormal experience a little more than 4 months before.Pam, who is not particularly interested in family genealogy, appeared to be speechless and no more was said on the subject that night.
In my heart, as I reflect on both family experiences, I believe that John McMonegal’s visit was his birthday wish (7 Dec 1827), 172 years to the day, though these years are mere seconds in an eternity that he surely occupies with great joy.A wish granted--to come and see his 3rd Great Grandson, the next male in his direct Park line; to make his presence known in an attempt to assure the family name would continue to flourish in his memory. I can’t help but think that Martha’s wish must have been to play the piano on Brandon’s birthday. Both experiences serving as a spiritual beacon, a light from the past, reminding those in our family who choose "not to remember them" and to heighten their awareness of the intrinsic importance and value of family heritage.A heritage I work hard to keep alive, exemplified by my faithful efforts to this end, for which unfortunately, there is little interest or appreciation. These spectral demonstrations seem to hold dear, the voices of my 2d Great Grandparents, long since departed from this life, as we know it—and I can hear them clearly and with great certainty."We love you" they echo deep in my heart…"please do not forget us, for we lived, toiled, cried, laughed and sacrificed—so that you, our grandchildren of afar, would benefit from the knowledge of our wisdom as well as our mistakes".
I reverently offer the following thoughts to illustrate my feelings about these two separate but related occurrences and to bring sanity to the otherwise unexplainable visit from John McMonegal Park and Martha Cobb.John and Martha’s spirits are mirrored by their descendants of today, who live with the wisdom to comprehend the importance of their ancestors of long ago.Time should not diminish their presence in our lives, nor should it keep our grandparents of the ages from shining their light down upon us.A light that illuminates the achievements of the past, while brightening the way to our future.With all this in mind, understand then, these words that ring out with truth….
"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors."
-Edmund Burke 1729-1797
"What task could be more agreeable than to tell of the benefits conferred on us by our ancestors, so that you may get to know the achievements of those from whom you have received both the basis of your beliefs and the inspiration to conduct your life properly."
- William Malmesbury, 1125 A.D.
"To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root."
- Chinese Proverb
"He alone deserves to be remembered by his children who treasures up and preserves the memory of his fathers."
- Edmund Burke 1729-1797
Thank you, John and Martha for gracing us in your light.
Through our Lord, Jesus Christ and the Father’s gift of eternal life….
We will see you again soon.