It took me a while to come out of the closet about the family ghost. It is not that I ever officially said, well yes, I do believe in ghosts. But I never said that I didn’t either and, somewhere along the way, I realized that no matter how logical we want reality to be, there are some things that we just plain do not understand. Ghosts are one of those things.
For most of my life, most of the time, when the subject of ghosts has come up, I have avoided mention of my own. One does so love to maintain a semblance of normalcy, the illusion of sanity. Be that as it is, with all these books, stories and histories of ghosts, it’s time to fess up. We have a ghost(s) and we pretty much have, since we first moved into this house.
We had only been in the house a few weeks when we had our first encounter. Actually, my daughter had the first encounter. She was still in the carry her around in your arms, diaper wearing stage, less than two years old. But she had a few words, and one word that she communicated very distinctly was “Baby.”
I was walking through the kitchen with her in my arms one day, and suddenly, she reached for the ceiling and squealed “Baby!” She almost jumped out of my arms reaching, like very small children do, when they are so excited to see another little person just like themselves. Except she was reaching for the ceiling, and there was nobody else around.
The first time it happened, I brushed it off, didn’t think much about it. The kitchen is more like a great room, with a cathedral ceiling, and I figured maybe she saw a shadow—or something. The second time it happened, I squinted trying to make out what she was seeing. I didn’t see a thing, tried again to make out—a shadow—maybe. About the third time, she started squealing “Baby,” and excitedly reaching toward the ceiling, for something I still couldn’t see. At that point, I thought maybe I would say something to one of the neighbors the next time I ran into one of them.
Well, the next time I am in the yard, here comes the neighbor walking over to my fence, “Did you hear about the baby?”
“The people who lived there before you, their baby drowned in a swimming pool not long after they moved out of the house.”
I never met the family who lived there before us, never knew the child’s name. My own daughter was too young to have a clue what a ghost was, but after so many instances, there was no doubt, she was seeing and communicating with something that appeared very childlike to her. It was also eerie that, in these early experiences, the apparition was always above us.
That was the start, but over the years, we had a number of what would be considered paranormal experiences in the house. When the kids were in elementary school, there was a while that it seemed to be a perpetual problem. And I do mean problem. Somebody was always seeing something. My son, who was maybe ten years old at the time, was in the backyard, and swore somebody was walking behind him. In the same time-frame, he had walked past me, looked at the wall beside me, which was toward the hall, and said, “There’s a dog man.” He pointed and kept going. Didn’t even stop. He doesn’t remember that now, but it sure stuck with me at the time.
Over the years, there were a number of instances in that hall. More than once, out of the corner of my eye, I would catch a fleeting glimpse of a shadowy being that seemed to hurry away when it realized it had almost been seen. But it was always an almost, I never really saw a thing, nothing that I could define.
And then there was the neighbor’s kid. Late one night, one of the neighbor’s kids, she was around 16 at the time, started banging on our door to wake us up. She was terrified and had crawled out her window to come to us for help. She said somebody was in their house. Her parents were asleep in bed and she heard footsteps walking down the hall. We called their house to see if everything was okay. And her parents, of course, answered. Everything was fine, of course, nothing out of the ordinary.
This child was an honor student and about as far from what you would ever consider a “flake” in your life. If she said she heard footsteps in the hall, there is no reason anybody would doubt her. As far as I know, she had never in her whole life had another silly little goofy incident, before or after. What she heard that night, we’ll never know. But at the time, it was just a late night incident with a neighborhood kid. Alone, it was the inclination of teen angst, ghost stories, perhaps, but in the context of the other, too close for comfort, and never to be discussed again.
Even for somebody who doesn’t believe in ghosts, and I never honestly did, but after so much of this, you start thinking, well could be we need to do something about it. So I had the bright idea of seeing a family counselor, a shrink perhaps. Whatever comes in life, I have always been of the mindset that you just deal with it. At least I felt like I was attempting to do something—the most rational thing I could come up with to deal with an irrational problem. That was among the dumbest decisions of my life.
At the time all this was going on, I didn’t know about things like parapsychologists. But there really are people who make their living as ghost busters, and later somebody did tell me that a family therapist probably wasn’t the best choice for dealing with ghosts. I figured that one out. I tried, I really did. Shrinks, DampRid and salt. I tried everything.
If a person can deal logically and rationally with a ghost, I gave it my best shot. I tried to read and understand what I could. But nothing seemed to deter those ghosts. And the thing is, in the middle of all this, if you had asked me if I believed in ghosts, I would have still answered with a resounding “No, of course not.”
As to the DampRid, whatever you live with, you do your best to deal with it. Household hints, good family management and all that. Being the logical pragmatic person that I tend to be, who never believed in ghosts in the first place, except now I apparently had a problem with them, I went looking for household hints on dealing with ghosts. As to the shrink, there are some things a shrink can’t fix, and ghosts are right near the top of that list.
So after the useless money I spent trying to shrink the ghosts away, I attempted to figure out what one does to rationally deal with ghosts. I heard about salt and for a while, I would go from corner to corner of the house sprinkling salt. It seemed like it would work for a while, and then they would be back again, so I kept at it, trying to resolve the ghost problem.
Somewhere else, I heard that ghosts really like damp places so if you get rid of as much dampness as possible, at least the place won’t be so enticing to them—perhaps. So how do you get rid of dampness in your house? DampRid and at one point, I had containers of it all over my house.
Needless to say, the DampRid was a complete waste of time, money and effort. DampRid is quite effective at what it was made for, but it is not effective for controlling ghosts. I don’t remember who gave me that helpful household hint, but it doesn’t work at controlling ghosts.
Over the years, we had several instances that involved the family pets, when a cat or dog caught sight of something that nobody else could see, and for the cat, growling, and hair standing on end. One instance with the dog, she stood at the entrance to the hall, her hair stood on end and she started trembling, suddenly she broke out of the tremble, put her nose to the floor like she was smelling something distinct, on a trail, with her nose to the floor the whole time, she followed the trail into the bathroom and it ended at the vent. That was it, and she turned around looking, running around in circles. She clearly had the scent of something, and was going back and forth with her nose to the floor, over and over, tracing the same path. But whatever it was, it was gone just as quickly as it had appeared.
Also, over the years, there was the realization that we were dealing with more than the spirit of one child. The ghosts are not an everyday or even an every year occurrence, but one can be pretty certain that once you get complacent and you are sure they are gone, they will be back. And that is generally when you least expect it, and frequently at a time when you really do have real life problems to deal with. The world does not stop just because you have a ghost.
The years brought acceptance though and then there was the one time, my daughter yelled out, “They’re back.”
“Who’s back?” I asked,
“The ghost,” she said, “it’s back. Look at the cat,” she said pointing. “He sees something.”
By then, we were past worrying about it all. And we were no longer afraid of those ghosts. I can’t say the same for the cat though. One more time, that cat’s hair was on end and near the same area of the hall where the dog had also had an experience.
By this time, we had so many encounters over the years, it was old hat, and this time my daughter went scrambling for a camera. I didn’t know what to look for in the picture. Despite it all, I was never well versed in the lore of ghosts. There was indeed a light orb in the hall that we were able to see in the picture. That was the day when the ghost went from being a problem to one of the family, or at the least a member of the household. It was there. It wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and neither were we.
The one time when the ghost actually manifest to the point of a poltergeist experience was the morning after my now ex had left. My soul was shattered at the break-up of our family and there was a horrendous storm the night before. There were floods all around the area, as if the heavens were sobbing with me. In every sense of the word, it had been a dark, wet and stormy night.
The next morning, my daughter and I were sitting at the table in the kitchen, still digesting what had happened. She had a glass of juice and one of those little toy straws like you get in the kid’s meals from MacDonald’s. It was something between a whistle and a straw, which you put together with one of those little action hero heads, then you blow it and make noise while you drink your drink.
We were sitting there and the action hero whistle straw starts blowing. And we were watching it blow, by itself. This was not a battery operated thing; you had to blow it. We were already in shock about her dad leaving and for a minute, we just sat staring at the thing. Then I picked it up and took it completely apart to stop it from blowing.
A couple minutes later, the dog goes to the entrance of the hall and her hair stands on end. She stands frozen and trembles in terror for a few seconds, and then she snaps out of it, puts her nose to the floor, and begins a chase that ends at the vent in the bathroom, and then she runs around in circles, continuously retracing the trail of the scent, trying to find whatever it was she had both seen and smelled.
Strange doings, the world doesn’t stop because a five year old ghost, or any other ghost for that matter, drops by at the time of such distress in the family. Over the years, I discussed these matters with people who knew and understood ghosts and the paranormal more than I did.
With time, the fear of the unknown was replaced by an acceptance that there are some things we just plain don’t understand. In some of the experiences, it was clear that the ghost was a child and it communicated with my daughter when she was too young to have a clue what a ghost was. Later, with that realization, in the times when it manifest, I tried to think maternal thoughts toward it. I really didn’t know what else to do. It is not like there is a manual on how to deal with a family ghost, or maybe there is and I just missed it.
As I mentioned earlier though, with more time still, it was pretty clear that not all of the encounters were with the same being. Although my daughter’s early encounters were very positive, the time in the yard with my son, and the incident with the neighbor’s child were both very frightening for everyone involved. Since, at times, the incidents seemed to involve more than the actual house, it has been suggested that perhaps the area was at one time a Native American burial ground. Since I too have at least a partial Native American ancestry, I did not find that troubling, and in some way felt like, well maybe I am supposed to be here. As frightening as it all was in the early days of awareness, with time, I have wondered what happens to the ghosts when the family moves away. Disconcertingly sad thoughts.
Over the years, I have also visited other places that were supposed to be haunted. Sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose, at which point it was as much curiosity as a search for common ground. Something I could latch onto. With time, I also learned that where there is a tendency of a ghost to manifest, for whatever reason, that spirit is not at rest. It has been a while now since the last visitation, but if it was somehow within me, it was my inclination that my home would be a place of peace, strength in spirit, love, and respect for life in all its manifestations.
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