Anne's Diary

A Tap on the Shoulder

Before I write about this incident, I need to include a preamble: When Whitley and I were a struggling young couple living in New York City, we used to cast about for inexpensive things to do on weekends. On one of these weekends we decided to visit Sunnyside, Washington Irving's house in the Hudson Valley which has been turned into a museum (Irving was a 19th century write whose most famous works are "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Headless Horseman").

After touring the museum, we went out into the lovely garden. I was admiring some flowers when Whitley suddenly said, "Someone tapped me on the shoulder!" We looked around, but there was no one nearby. As we left, he mentioned this to one of the museum guides, who chuckled and said, "Oh, that happens to lots of people. We think it's Mr. Irving's ghost having a little fun."

Twenty years later it happened again, and since I remembered the Sunnyside incident, I knew how to interpret it. When we were in Texas, Whitley decided to look up an old friend, whom he hadn't seen since high school. One mutual acquaintance said he was still alive and attending college in the northeast, but another friend insisted he was dead, because he had contacted the man's brother, who had told him that he died a tragic death rather young. While Whitley was contemplating which story to believe, he suddenly said (again), "Someone tapped me on the shoulder!" I told him, "Your friend is dead," and Whitley found out this was indeed true when he called the brother and talked to him personally.


It's nice to hear that this happens to other people too.
I've had it happen several times, always when I'm intently working on some creative project. It feels like someone is placing a reassuring hand on my shoulder, but it startles me because I'm always alone. Once I've calmed down, I like to think that it's my mother, who passed away when I was four, but I can't really explain it.
I've had several strange things happen that can't be explained in this reality. People laugh or don't believe me if I tell them, so it's nice to find a place with open minded people where the unusual is accepted as real and not weird.

I have been to Washington Irving's "cozy little snuggery" as he called it. What I recall most was the gravity plumbing that ran down the hill so they could enjoy water from a spigot. Also what struck me was the amount of fire related deaths that women endured wearing puffy dresses while working near an open hearth fire place. As I recall Irving invented something or designed a way to avoid this for his daughter.

We went in the fall when the Hudson river valley is most magical...there was also an artisit's house done in a moorish style...quite ornate as I recall.

Although I have never had anyone tap me on the shoulder I have heard my name called when there was no one around. A couple of times I was sure it was my deceased mother. Many times I am wakened from a deep sleep when my name was called.

I haven't been tapped on the shoulder, but I've heard a dog bark nearby (when my own dog was asleep and visible from where I was lying) or heard my name called. My sister, who lives in another part of the city has experienced a similar thing. She hears her name--the name she is known as an adult, not the name by which she was known in the family or by her friends in school--while she was sleeping--and it wakes her up, not even at a time she has to be up in order to get to work or an appointment or anything. I used to hear my name called--but not in a long while. Usually I hear a bark, like the bark of a dog I had between 1980 and 1994 but not like the dogs I have had since. The only time now that I hear my name called or feel a tap on my shoulder is if I seem to be dozing off at work (I work 3rd shift) and I always thank whoever it is.

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