Well that’s not entirely true. I am very scared of many shared incarnations of ghosts – all gleaned from books, television and movies. My entire family enjoys a good scare – if I spill my popcorn by nearly jumping out of my seat I figure I got my money’s worth.
When I was little my sister and our friends spent hours in the basement – dark always – using a Ouija Board and holding seances. We had a foolproof method for taking the horror out of any moment that got too scary. We used all of our conjuring concentration to try and bring back the ghost of Walt Disney. Can you imagine a less threatening spectre?
When I had children of my own I worked hard to make them feel safe and to use a healthy does of reality to help figure things out. For example, I would explain, if there was anything akin to a ghost do you not think that someone by now would have been able to record it’s presence in some manner? We can take pictures of Mars, the inside of cells, and Robert Downey Jr. clean and sober – all things are possible. Yet nobody has been able to prove the existence of ghosts. So how can they exist? And yet…
The house that we are living in is haunted. Only now, that my youngest is 18 (and more importantly, her two older brothers can handle it), can this truth finally be told. It does not seem possible that a new house can be haunted but there you go. From the time we moved in, everyone in the house would hear the sound of someone walking around upstairs.
Now this didn’t happen every day. But it happened often enough that friends and other family members heard it as well. It seemed to be primarily in my son’s room. We assuaged the kids fears by explaining that it was the furnace (in the winter) or the air conditioner (in the summer). It was the pipes. It was the air exchanger. Secretly, my husband and I were both pretty sure it had nothing to do with the construction and functioning of the house. It was too transient. And it seemed to move around.
This was such a clear and specific sound that, more than once, I had been home alone and heard it upstairs and called up “Hello?” – suddenly sure that there had to be someone else in the house. There wasn’t. This didn’t happen always late at night when it was scary and dark – this was two in the afternoon when I was working at my computer. I would have bet real money that I wasn’t alone. But I was. Or was I?
After we were in the house for ten years, I had a barbecue party with the members of my choir. One of the women brought her husband who had grown up on our property when it had been the old farmhouse. After a couple of beers, sitting outside in the lovely summer evening, he suddenly asked – apropos of nothing – “so do you still hear the ghost?”.
My husband and I both jumped – neither of us had mentioned anything about this to anyone else. (what? us nuts?) The hair on the back of my neck was standing up as we asked him to elaborate and he explained that there had always been the ghost of an old farmer who would occasionally walk around the porch and other rooms. “No harm done”. he told us.
And he was right. I don’t know how but none of us every felt any kind of malice or negativity coming from this presence. It wasn’t scary in the way that you would expect an apparition or presence to be scary. It felt…like it belonged there. Now when I hear him (and it is most definitely a him) walking around upstairs I smile up and wish him well. Either that or it’s just the floorboards contracting…