The realization that she was different than other children, really started to sink in around age five. She saw and heard things than grown-ups and other kids her age. Some of her friends introduced her to their imaginary friends, but she didn't see anything. Since Dawn didn't have many friends, she carried on a dialogue in her head. Today she was trying to think of a way to describe what it was like for her to somebody who didn't have her "special talent." The closest thing she could thing of, was that it was kind of like a radio that wasn't quite on the right station. If she concentrated on the signal, it would be like fine tuning the dial on the radio until you hear the station as well as you can. It was sort of that way with seeing people who had died. She really had to concentrate, but even then you still see through them.
The fist incident happened when she was about three and a half or four. She wasn't sure exactly, but she knew it was before she started kindergarten at five. She was lying in bed and trying to go to sleep, when she saw a man come out of the bathroom towards her wearing a plaid shirt. He was tall like her grandfather, and had that same sort of warm comforting glow that "grandpa" had. Then she realized that the color wasn't right. She could see the bathroom door open, but she was seeing it through him. She knew something was wrong and it terrified her. She screamed and pulled the covers up over her head, and held her breath for what seemed like forever. Dawn was sure that those two big hands were going to grab her and whisk her away.
At the sound of her scream, her mother ran into the room. Dawn wasn't aware of this because her head was under the covers. Hearing her mother's voice, she lowered the covers and looked around the room for her uninvited guest. Dawn's mother in a soothing voice was saying, "It's okay hon. He's not going to hurt you." When she heard that, she realized her mother must have seen it too, and asked her that directly.
Her mother Gilda explained that her father was one half native american indian, and that his father was a full blooded Choctaw. She also told Dawn about her mother being part Cherokee and Apache indian. Gilda went on to explain that people in her family are sensitive to the spirits that exist in the world with us, and that she must have inherited that "special talent." Gilda sat by Dawn's bed holding her until she fell asleep.
When Dawn woke up, the bright sunlight was streaming through her window and all seemed right with the world. Then she remembered her visitor from last night and felt a bit uneasy. She pulled back the covers and sort of jumped out of bed. She didn't want to land with her feet right by the bed. In her four year old mind, the only place it seemed the man last night could have gone, was under the bed. Carefully, she bent down and peered under her bed only to find a doll she had been missing for a while. She would continue to jump out of the bed each morning until she was around twelve and connected the two events. Then her fear of the underside of beds, vanished like the man had that night.
Dawn would see that same spirit several more times during her life. It was different than other spirits she would see and hear during her life. She could tell that the others had died, but she wasn't sure about the flannel shirt clad man. She would only catch a glimpse of the man off in the distance during life threatening moments. Once was when the prop-jet she was flying out of New York had two of the four engines catch on fire. Another is when she was accompanying her father on a walk in the woods and he wheeled around and shot a water moccasin that had slithered up inches away from her feet. Yet another was when a truck made a sharp turn off of a two way highway, her father slammed on the brakes, and the car skidded sideways covering both lanes for several hundred feet.
She decided later in life that he must be some sort of guardian angel, and he made his introduction that night in her childhood. As she was raised in a Christian environment, one advantage she had over others, was that believing in life after death wasn't a matter of faith for Dawn. It was a matter of fact.