When they returned home from the hospital the day their 17-year-old daughter Melissa died in September 2004 from injuries sustained in a car accident on Silver Street, Granby residents Gary and Cindy Galka started to experience after-death communications (ADCs).
“We were walking from the car in the garage to the house, and we could smell her,” said Gary Galka.
For the next several years, Gary, Cindy and their two other daughters — Heather and Jennifer — continued to experience ADCs from Melissa.
“There were situations when my wife would start to make lunch with [Jennifer and Heather] and all of a sudden, they’d feel someone come into the room,” Gary Galka said. “I’ve been lying in bed and felt someone come down on my side of the bed and felt a weight on my chest, like someone’s head. It evolved into things like feeling a tap on the shoulder, someone calling out our names, and it felt like someone was kissing our foreheads.”
In addition, the television, stereo and lights in the house would turn on and off without explanation.
Gary Galka said that the communications that he has had with Melissa are real and that they have helped him and his family heal.
“It brought us so much comfort — loved ones want to let you know that you are safe and that you are OK,” he said. “That’s really important to them. Through ADCs, you begin to heal. We began to heal. All [Melissa] cared about was to help her parents in time to learn to live life again. If you can’t do that, you’re going to be in a deep, dark place for the rest of your life."
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Fueled by his communications with Melissa, Gary Galka, an inventor and test instrument engineer who owns D.A.S. Distribution in East Granby, began developing instruments such as the Mel Meter (which measures electromagnetic activity) and the SP7 Spirit Box (which is said to record conversations with spirits over high frequencies) that Galka says can be used to detect paranormal phenomena.
Galka sells the devices — which are priced between $79 and $350 — through the website www.pro-measure.com to paranormal enthusiasts ranging from weekend hobbyists to experts who have their own television shows such as Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel, Ghost Hunters on Syfy and Haunted Collectors, which has yet to air an episode.
“Nobody catered to these people before,” Gary Galka said. “We have all different Mel Meters to do research.”
Gary Galka said that he was driven primarily to help people through the grieving process and that the sale of paranormal devices only account for a small portion of his overall business.
“I asked, ‘How can I help other people with the creation of these products?’” he said. I wanted to learn more. [Before Pro-Measure’s instruments were developed] people were improvising. There were no instrument devices dedicated to do this.”
Ghost Adventures episode
Gary Galka and Melissa Galka’s stories were told on an episode of Ghost Adventures this past weekend.
The episode was filmed in Granby last February on what would have been Melissa’s 25th birthday — Valentine’s Day.
During the episode, Melissa’s voice can be heard on a Spirit Box saying, among other things, “Hi dad” and "Miss you all."
Also, when Cindy Galka is driving by the cemetery in which Melissa is buried, the car radio shut off. When Cindy asks Melissa what song she would like to hear, Nikki Minichino, Melissa’s best friend at , immediately knew the answer: Keith Urban’s “Days Go By.”
The song’s lyrics are on the bench that Granby Memorial’s class of 2005 dedicated to Melissa that sits outside the school building.
“I loved it, but I definitely got emotional to hear her voice and to see her room with all the pictures,” Minichino said of the Ghost Adventures episode. “It was tough.”
Not that Minichino was completely sold on the notion that what she watched on the Ghost Adventures episode was real.
“I watched it with an open heart and an open mind,” she said. “I’d like to think she’s happy and OK. … [But] I’m a skeptic.”
Regardless, Minichino was even more interested in talking about Melissa as a person.
“She was extremely outgoing; she had a ton of friends and she was a free spirit,” said Minichino, who wrote the dedication to Melissa Galka in the Granby Memorial High yearbook in 2005. “Her spirit, it was so overwhelmingly positive. She was so beautiful. She was breathtakingly beautiful and she had a personality to match that. She was kind to everyone.
“She had so many friends. She never judged anyone. She was so much fun to be around. She loved with all of her heart. She was a beautiful person inside and out.”
Minichino said that she still thinks fequently about her friend, even though it’s been nearly eight years since she passed away.
“I think about the times we had and the life she could have had,” Minichino said. “She was smart. She was the perfect package. Everything was so perfect about her, you wanted to hate her. You wanted to ask, ‘Why are you so perfect? Why can’t you be mean?’”
Superintendent of Schools Alan Addley, who was Granby Memorial’s principal at the time of Melissa’s death, echoed Minichino’s sentiments.
“She was a natural beauty,” Addley said. “She had a welcoming and warm personality. She led the gymnastics team and was involved with all the school’s activities. We had busloads of kids paying their respects, just pouring out love for the kid and the family.”
Addley also noted that thoughts of Melissa Galka are never far away, as he thinks of her every Valentine's Day and of Melissa Galka's prom dress that she never got to wear.
Galkas moving forward
From that day 7.5 years ago, Gary Galka and his family have been able to turn some of that darkness into light.
"We’re in a good way," he said. "My mother passed away six months before my daughter, so I know she’s in good hands."
Jennifer and Heather Galka had difficulty initially coping with the loss of their sister, though they are now doing much better, according to Gary Galka.
Heather is going to be a math teacher while Jennifer is working on her master’s in psychology and hopes to be a guidance counselor.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my kids,” he said. "And through the healing process, I’ve been able to help other people."
Indeed, one-third of the profits from the sale of the items on www.pro-measure.com go to grieving support groups, such as Mary’s Place A Center for Grieving Children in Windsor, The Cove Center for Grieving Children in Wallingford and Compassionate Friends of Central Connecticut.
The Galkas have also established a scholarship in Melissa’s name at Granby Memorial High for children who have a variety of needs, according to Gary. So far, Gary Galka has estimated that he has donated some $30,000 to charitable organizations through the sale of paranormal devices.
“It’s not about me or my wife, it’s about helping people,” Gary Galka said. “Mel taught me to be a better father, a better husband and to be more tolerant of other people. That to me is no better purpose. For me, it’s all about giving back.”
So much so that Gary Galka made it clear that he did not do the show for profit by promoting Pro-Measure’s instruments, but instead was motivated to tell Melissa’s story and to help people who are grieving.
"I’ve developed compassion, and to give hope of a better tomorrow," he said. "That was the whole purpose I wanted to do the show."
Most responses thus far to the show have been positive, according to Gary Galka, though there have been a small percentage of people who have commented that the voices he’s hearing are the work of a demon.
"I don't need to hear that," Gary Galka said.
For now, the ADCs don't come as frequently as they used to, Gary Galka said. What used to be once every two weeks now has been reduced to once every six months to a year when he hears from Melissa.
"She still shows up on Christmas and on her birthday," Gary Galka said.