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At first, her parents thought this was comical, if also slightly puzzling.
But it became alarming as the girl, Sally, insisted she was a boy and that her parents, Anna and Richard, weren’t her real parents and their home city wasn’t her real home.
She was convinced that, as Joseph, she lived in a little house by the sea, with lots of brothers and sisters.
‘She seems so certain,’ Anna told me.
‘Initially, we thought she was playing a make-believe game.
But this isn’t imaginary — it’s almost as if she has memories of when she was a boy called Joseph.
She keeps asking to see the ships, and we’ve never taken her to the seaside in her life.’
It should be pointed out that Sally’s birth was almost a miracle — coming after her parents had been vainly trying for a child for years, undergoing a series of failed IVF treatments.
Whereas dad Richard was a no-nonsense chap who found this behaviour hard to take, mum Anna knew that their daughter wasn’t playing tricks.
She felt strongly that Sally’s memories were, in some way, real.
The possible explanations — some kind of mental illness, reincarnation or ghostly possession — all seemed equally unnerving.
But of her daughter’s truthfulness she had no doubt.
For her part, Sally was frustrated because the grown-ups didn’t take her seriously.
We advised Anna not to let Sally see that she was worried, and to wait and see what developed.
Sure enough, six weeks later the little girl had stopped talking about Joseph and the house by the sea, and seemed to have forgotten those ‘memories’.
Earlier this year, a book appeared that set me thinking about what had happened.
Memories Of Heaven, by the motivational speaker Dr Wayne Dyer and his assistant Dee Garnes, collects dozens of similar stories — proving that, whatever the explanation, there was nothing unusual about Sally.
The book was compiled when Dr Dyer had been ill with leukaemia for years, and he died of a heart attack before it was published.
Certainly, there is often an annoying shortage of detail in the accounts, which are printed verbatim from letters and emails sent to him by readers.
But what the testimonies lack in background and research, they make up for with their apparent honesty.
These stories come from dozens of independent sources, yet often tell of phenomena so similar that they seem to be describing the same events.
One-off accounts of supernatural oddness, however convincing, can be dismissed as anomalies.
But when scores of parents report the same experiences with their children, perhaps we should take notice.
Zibby Guest, from Chester, writes that her second son, Ronnie, was 16 months old when he started talking, and would often refer to his ‘other house’, where he was ‘a grown-up’ with another mummy and daddy.
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