One of my earliest memories was attending a viewing. I know it sounds weird, but I can distinctly remember whining that I couldn't see what was in the casket and why everyone was so sad. I was about to throw a tantrum when my mother raised me up and let me look inside.
I didn't grasp the situation at the time, since I was around 3 years old. But later on I learned that the guy's name was Larry. He and a friend of his were drunk one night. They fell asleep with the car running and asphyxiated on the fumes. Larry was a close neighbor to my grandmother. They didn't talk much or have much to do with one another. But rather, you could throw a rock from her back porch and hit his house.
During my childhood, we lived in a trailer at the bottom of a steep hill. At the top of the hill, my grandmother had her home. We spent more time at my grandmother's house than we did the trailer and it seemed superfluous to us. Sure it housed our things, but it wasn't a home.
One summer day, my friends Jody and Jason came over to play. They were 1 and 3 years older than me. I would guess their ages to be around 7 and 10 during this story.
It was a pretty day, just a little cool from an early morning shower. But the sun was out and they wanted to play outside. My grandmother told us not to go behind the trailer because she had spotted a snake there. We said that we wouldn't go near there and out the door we went. Being the boys that we were, our first stop that morning was to be behind the trailer. My grandmother was so insistent we shouldn't go there, surely there must be something remarkable.
When we reached our destination, we were let down. Nothing interesting was going on at all. Even the itty bitty stream behind the house didn't show signs of life, preventing any hopes of catching a lizard or small frog.
Suddenly Jason said, "Oh my god, guys look!" He pointed frantically at Larry's house. In the few years following Larry's death, the place had fallen into disrepair. The wood on the outside looked to be rotting and the tin roof was completely covered in rust. It didn't take long before I saw what Jason was pointing towards. In the window of Larry's house, we could see a silhouette of a figure slowly walking past.
I yelled the only curse word my young mind knew, "Shit!" We all ran up the steep as fast our short legs could carry us. My grandmother was surprised to see us back so quickly. We told her the harrowing tale, even leaving in the part where we disobeyed her. She nodded and suggested we watch TV inside until we calmed down.
To this day, she does not question what we saw. I think it was so easy for her to believe us because she had some experiences of her own when she was younger.