In the fall of 1986, upon my return home from school for the weekend, I got a phone call informing me that all my family was at the hospital because my dad had had a heart attack, which he survived. But he had died, briefly, on the operating table.

Not long after he returned home from the hospital, Dad began having unusual experiences at night. On a somewhat regular basis, he would wake up to find other people in the room--men, women, and children. They all seemed to be led by a tall man with a cape. And they all seemed to be emerging from the closet.

One night my mother noticed him sitting on the edge of the bed looking at something. She couldn't see what he was seeing. So he described everyone to her. There were many other nights where he would just be sitting there looking "at" something.

One time, Dad went out of town with a friend of his who had a doctor's appointment in Nashville. Mom says she went into the bedroom that night and could feel a presence, but she couldn't see anything, as had been typical. She slept on the couch.

This continued for several nights into the early days of 1987. These "spirits" would be milling around, seemingly interacting, and then they'd disappear into the closet.

One night the man in the black cape gathered them all up and they all ascended through a hole in the ceiling. And they never returned. Ever. He never saw them again for the rest of his life.

We've always had the theory that these "ghosts" he was seeing were people who saw him while he was dead, however briefly, and were watching over him until the coast appeared to be clear. That's the best we could do, absent calling in a parapsychologist, which seemed excessive. Still does. Anyway, Dad never did have another heart attack until the one that took him in 2005. And we'd been warned by the doctor about 8 months prior that only a very small part of his heart was working, anyway.

Maybe those night visitors didn't return because they saw no point. Who knows?

But in late 1986 into early 1987, the house in which I was raised was inhabited by spirits. They were harmless and could only be seen by one person. But since that person was my dad--a man who didn't go in for nonsense of any kind--I absolutely believe they were there.