Foreword for the book: "Diaries of a Paranormalist"

Shared by Greg Lawson on June 3, 2021
In the Beginning 
Fiskville Cemetery, Austin, Texas, circa 1969
On a bleak day in the fall of 1969, I stood staring at a tombstone. This was no ordinary tombstone—it was the tombstone of a child. My brother Bill, who was seventeen, had put me on his motorcycle and we had driven the back roads in search of graveyards. At five-years-old, it was not something I would have chosen to do, however spending any time with my older brother and on his motorcycle was glorious. His mission in life was to be a good big brother and to scare me. He usually did a decent job. Whether it was taking me around to cemeteries looking for the child’s grave that was closest to my age, sneaking into my room at night to make weird noises, rock climbing or skydiving, he usually succeeded.

On this particular day we had stumbled on Fiskville Cemetery by accident. It is one of Austin, Texas’ oldest Anglo cemeteries with graves dating back to the 1840s. Fiskville was a little community north of Austin’s Colony which was issuing land grants from Mexico starting around 1821. While there are some Mexican and Spanish graves that are much older scattered around the area, these early ones date from the initial white occupation.

Bill and I had walked most of the graveyard marking off many of the children: 13-year old Willie Mangan, stillborn Paul Barfield, infant boy Holt in 1942, the Sterling baby, and the closest to my age, Marvin Pittsford aged 6 years. We stayed at Marvin’s grave for a while and Bill, I am sure, told me some fantastic tale of how Marvin died and how dangerous it was to be a six-year-old. I can’t clearly remember. But I am sure I said a little prayer for Marvin and probably spoke directly to him expressing that I was sorry that he had died.

That was the beginning of my fascination with death. My exploration into the unknown and mysterious realms of religion, metaphysical experience, and the paranormal. Throughout elementary school, Junior high, and high school, I continued seeking out and exploring cemeteries, abandoned buildings, and Indian sacred sites. I passed on the fascination to my friends by dragging them along. We explored ancient silver mines along Walnut Creek, old abandoned pioneer farms and ranches, natural caves where Indians lived and died, and occasionally found solitary family graves on lands where we trespassed. While I thought I was not interested in history, in doing the things I did, that is precisely what I was researching.

I am quite sure these experiences somehow steered me toward my vocation in law enforcement. Not only did I search for the dead as a child’s hobby, my evolution culminated into specializing in suicide mediation, hostage negotiation, and death investigation. Previously, I worked as the sergeant for a lake patrol unit and dive team specializing in aquatic death investigation. It seems I search for the dead as a hobby as well as an occupation. 

I am quite sure, without my brother Bill's influence in my life, it would have been less colorful, less broad, and less of an experience. I don't know whether he knew this or not.

Share a story

Illustrate your story with a picture, music or video (optional):