Witness: Rev. Scott E. Kingsbury
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date of Encounter: January, 1967
I guess I need to start with my family history: I am an only-child. So is my father. As was his father and his father before him. An unbroken string of "only sons" since before the Civil War.
I was a happy kid. No broken homes for us; both my paternal and maternal great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents stayed together "until death did they part." I was yet another "crown prince" in a long line of Crown-Princes — "spoiled rotten", I guess you could say.
My parents loved me dearly, but I was certainly Grandpa's favorite. My Dad's "Dad," Orval, was pretty cool… he taught me to play Blackjack for Hershey's Kisses when I was only about five years old. He gave me my first football, taught me to ride my first bike. He was both my "Gramps" and my Godfather. He taught me to pray the Hail Mary and how to light candles in church — he gave me my first Prayer Book when I was Confirmed at the age of nine… and once told me that "WE" were not "Episcopalians" — but "WE" were "Anglo-Catholics".
Not a big deal to a six-year-old, but something must have stuck, as I am an Anglican Priest today.
Do Priests believe in ghosts?
This one does.
Some of my favorite times were spent at the little house where my Grandpa and Grandma lived. The house was a typical Los Angeles "cracker box" — built by my great-grandfather in 1920.
It was September of 1966, school had just gone back into session and it was hot. It was a Friday afternoon when my Grandma came to pick me up in her 1962 Chevy Corvair, to take me to their house for the weekend.
When we arrived in the driveway, I couldn't wait to see "Gramps." I ran in the house as fast as I could!
Unfortunately, rounding the doorway into his bedroom… I found him, face-down, a blue-purple color to his face and lips… he laid there, stone-cold dead on the floor.
Needless to say this was quite a shock to a nine-year-old. It was something that I will never forget. Nor will I forget what happened four short months later:
I was sleeping in my room (some 15 miles away from the house where I found my Grandpa) — and it was just pre-dawn. Pitch-black. I awakened, and it was icy-cold in my room. Not too strange for January… but this was different. As I recall — it was the chill in the air that woke me out of my sound sleep.
I sat straight up in bed, as completely awake as I am right now, and saw, clear-as-day, someone who I believed to be my father standing at the foot of my bed. This was not an uncommon occurrence, as Dad kept his socks and underwear in a chest of drawers in my bedroom… so I asked him, "What are you doing up so early?".
He smiled, and said not a word.
Then it dawned on me. It wasn't my Dad. He was a much younger, vibrant, healthy version of my Grandpa!! Only he was slightly transparent, not exactly translucent… but I could see him clearly in the darkened room!!
He just smiled and looked at me. He didn't speak a word, and this is the strangest part of the story, he communicated to me three things, very clearly — yet without words:
1) He "said": "I am so sorry that you found me!"
2) "I am in a wonderful place, and 'everybody is here' "
3) "You keep saying your prayers, because God has something very special in store for you — just wait!"
He kept smiling.
I must say, I was frozen stiff — scared… petrified… and so cold!
In what seemed to be about 4-5 more seconds, he just sort of faded away and was gone.
Well, I tore off the covers, ran into the bathroom, and turned on the lights. I looked at myself in the mirror and I was as white as a… well… "ghost" ! I went into the living room, and turned on the lights there. I was afraid to go back into my room.
I never told anybody what had happened.
Fast forward almost 30 years. After many years of spiritual searching and turmoil, I went back to seminary when I was 38 years old. The call was late, but it was certainly strong.
My mother died unexpectedly in 1996, never getting to see me ordained as a priest (well, at least not "in person")
When I was cleaning out her house, in the very last box I came across, I found an envelope. In it was my Grandpa and Grandma's wedding certificate.
I never knew this before that very moment.
My grandparents were married by the very priest who founded my current parish (someone who is legendary to me — sort of like George Washington) — at the very same parish where I was ordained — 70 years before. There was his signature right there at the bottom of the page.
Well, I finally found out what Grandpa meant. I've been Curate at that same parish since 1996.
It's been a "long, strange trip" — but God certainly did have something "special" planned for me!
Thanks! See ya again someday, Gramps!