The paranormal has always fascinated me much to my mother’s despair.
In school, junior high age, we played around with séances in the locker room after gym class, until one of the girls told on us. We’d get hall passes to get out of class and meet in a specific bathroom where we’d turn off the light, stand in front of the mirror, calling for ‘Mary Jane’ – we’d done this several times with nothing happening. And then one day, earlier in the day, only three of us met up. We didn’t really expect anything, but we enjoyed the attempt.
A swirling fog appeared in the mirror and we heard sounds like chains rattling. We didn’t hang around for more. We were out of there and down the hall before we realized it and stopped to confirm that each of us saw and heard the same thing. They decided it was enough for them.
However, with my fascination, I wasn’t so easily put off. Wasn’t I frightened? Oh, yeah! Still, I worked myself up to trying it on my own. At first, just being alone in there with the light off was enough send my heart racing and back out the door. Gradually, I worked up to the point where I went all the way. I will tell you right now, that was the last time I did it, too. When the fog cleared and a face appeared in the mirror, I went screaming and didn’t stop until the janitor caught up with me outside the building. It scared the heebie-jeebies out of me, and mom had been called to the school. Never a good thing. She pushed me to church every week after that. I didn’t mind, I met a boy. LOL Whether or not that was the lesser of the two evils for her or not, I don’t know. Not that I was a bad kid, but I think I was growing up way too fast for her.
There’s always been something going on around me. Much I didn’t put together until many years later – hindsight tends to make things clearer. I think my mom tried to shield me while down playing whatever was happening with me. That’s a curse/gift story for another post altogether.
For many years, we've lived with ghosts on and off. We accepted it as no big deal once we adjusted, or had an understanding. Maybe the movies are partly responsible, maybe because we’ve never felt threatened by them, really. Were we ever afraid for the boys’ safety? Only once.
My favorite ghosts were children, we believe. We had bought a house in New Underwood, South Dakota back in the 80’s. A two-story house set near the downtown area of this town of 500. We only had the two older boys at the time and they were school age. My husband worked days at Ellsworth Air Force Base, so it was me along with two kitties and a dog at home. After a month or so, I began hearing noises upstairs. At first, I thought one of the cats had found a stray toy and was batting it around. Then I noticed both of them were sleeping right there in the room with me, and the dog was outside. I was afraid to go upstairs and check it out for myself being new to the house, so I called my husband. He laughed and waited on the phone while I bravely crept up the squeaky steps. I reached the bedroom doorway and peeked around the door jam. No one was in there, but I noticed the bucket of Lincoln logs was in the middle of the room, open. Several pieces lay on the floor, some stacked as if someone were building something. The boys had not left them there. It was a rule and I had checked their rooms before they'd left.
I hightailed it down the stairs and demanded my husband come home right then. I waited outside the entire twenty-minute drive it took to get from the base.
He was laughing when he stepped from the car. Yeah, I have to admit, I must have looked a sight, sitting on the stoop with a stick in one hand and gripping the collar of our German Shorthair with the other as well as the two cats huddled in my lap, wondering why I interrupted their naps.
So, yeah, maybe too many movies influenced my common sense.
Still, having him home lifted much of the fear. I let the dog go, grabbed the kitties and moved from in front of the door. Following my knight in olive drab into the house, I was all but in his back pocket as he thoroughly checked the downstairs, and then crept up the creaky steps.
He stopped half way up and put out a hand stopping me. I hadn’t heard anything, but felt a moment of satisfaction that maybe he had. We listened and nothing. He went on up and into the boy’s room. I looked around him and my mouth fell open. There were no toys out of place. It was as the boys had left it.
I stood there as he looked under the beds, in the closet while trying to convince him I hadn’t imagined what I saw. He crossed the hall and I followed, watching him check the walk-in closet, and the attic closet behind the room. The house was clear of intruders.
I felt somewhat better and he returned to work. What he doesn’t know is that I sat in the corner of the living room on alert until the boys came home. In my warped mind, I feared if I made noise, that I might not hear danger approach.
In the weeks to come, we joked about it. I still heard the play going on only when I was home alone, but never talked of it. I never bothered checking it out. I stayed downstairs and they stayed upstairs.
And then the day came where my husband’s schedule was changed and he was home during the day. The very first day, I was in my little bit of heaven, sitting in my chair with one cat along side me, the other on my lap and knitting away on a blanket. The sounds of kids playing filtered down. I looked over and watched him for a reaction. Pretty soon, he lowered the book he was reading and stared up at the ceiling then at me.
He got up and headed to the stairs. I followed, of course. By now, we’d fixed most of the squeaks in the steps, and knew how to avoid the ones we left to notify us of the kids coming down. We stood outside the doorway and listened. Yes, the noises still went on. We stepped into the doorway and stopped. There in the middle of the room were tinker toys, Legos and Lincoln logs moving around the floor and being stacked. We looked at one another and backed out. He followed me downstairs and sat in his chair silent for a long time.
I made tea and sat on the arm of his chair. He looked at me and said, “I guess we have ghosts.”
Seriously, what was there to say, or do?
The one we did worry about was in our next home. We’d been transferred to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. We bought a mobile home in Warner Robins. Not long after we moved in, I began to find our front door open in the middle of the night. At first, I wondered if one of the boys had been sleepwalking. They never had before, but uprooting children can have adverse affects. I, too, worried that Jesse, who was four at the time, had decided to sit outside during the night watching the stars and what not. He was fascinated with weather and I often found him sitting in front of the weather channel or CMT during the night.
Things escalated where footsteps in the hallway would wake me and I’d rush out of the bedroom. I hated the layout of the bedrooms. The older boys had the room nearest the front door, the younger ones the room down the hall from them and the master bedroom was at the back. Anyway, the younger two boys would be sound asleep in their beds.
Not quite relieved, however, I snatched up a baseball bat and went on through the place. The front door stood open. I crept up on it, then quickly shut it, slamming the bolt in place and locking the deadbolt as we did every night. Slowly, I circled through the living room, hoping I didn't run into anyone as I went through the kitchen back into the dining room. After shutting the patio door and securing it, I tripped over the chair that’d been turned from the table. Then, like a scaredy-cat, I ran back to the bedroom and climbed into bed. It never failed, that’s when my husband would wake. “Are you ok?” he’d ask and be asleep before I could answer.
This went on for several weeks, and needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. The constant fear of something happening to the boys, the fear of someone playing games until we simply ignored it before they came in with the big blow sat in my mind like a rock. I’d been through something like that before with a business which was eventually burglarized.
While all this was going on, we were on the realtor’s case to give us a history on the place. She didn’t want to bother the elderly we bought it from; the lady was ill; she’d gone to visit family; the excuses became endless until we said we’d go over her head and claim a full-disclosure wasn’t given. Come to find out, the elderly woman’s husband had died in our bedroom. He never slept well, so he’d wonder at night; open the doors and sit staring out the patio door when he felt too warm.
It helped so much to know this. The next time I heard him, I simply asked him to keep the doors shut and locked for the safety of the boys. We fixed the screen door on the patio so it locked tight and he could open the glass for a breeze. Once we had that taken care of, we all lived happily ever after. Well, until we noticed he didn’t seem to be there any longer. We thought maybe he found his wife and went to stay with her, then we learned she passed on and we knew he was content then.
Here, the only ghost we’ve had is my grandfather. I swear, I enjoyed him as much then as I did when he was alive. He was playful, teasing and so much fun to be around. We’d always had a special bond. He came to stay with us the night he died. I’d just received the news and he was right there comforting me. He caressed my cheek and talked to me with my husband sitting right there. For two years, he stayed with us. Sometimes I had to scold him. It didn’t bother me that he’d walk through the house or sit in the den and watch television with sound up loud. It bothered me when I’d be sitting here engrossed in a story and suddenly he’d start opening and shutting the front door. He wanted company. He missed grandma. For many years, they’d sit around the dining table watching television and she’d either be doing word searches or crocheting. They were beloved soul mates and were married more than seventy years when he passed. The day we buried grandma is when he left us to be with her.