Thursday, October 22, 2015

Spirits Among Us

The house I grew up in is an old house.  It was built right around 1900, old enough even when I was a kid to warrant stories of inhabiting ghosts. 

Our family used to sit in the living room together on weeknights, watching TV.  We watched game shows and sitcoms, mostly.  Once a week we watched a show about strange things that happen in real life, stories of unexplained events and supernatural things.

I remember being riveted when the show featured ghost stories.  This was the era of movies like Poltergeist and Ghostbusters.  Children had been indoctrinated into the world of ghosts for years through traditional stories and books and cartoons about friendly ghosts, and at every mention of ghosts, I was transfixed.  That a person could still be around after death was a mysterious and easy idea for a kid to ponder.  I’d sit on the couch and feel the tingly sensation of being terrified yet not wanting to miss a misty reenactment of a real person’s ghost encounter.  We’d watch the images of a deceased loved one at the foot of a bed, shrouded in white, reaching a cold, transparent hand out to the person he or she was visiting and I’d shiver, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t happen to me in our creaky old house.  After the show was over, I’d tear through our dark dining room and up the stairs to outrun a languid specter.  Later, I’d lie in bed, eyes squeezed safely shut against the possibility of one of my dead-and-gone ancestors floating around my ceiling and waving hello.

Eventually I was convinced that ghosts lived in our house.  Every run through the dining room and up the stairs was a race against the spirit world, every cool draft through a window an old relative visiting from the afterlife.  Hands and feet stayed safely tucked into blankets and did not hang over the edge of the bed until the morning light banished all phantoms.

My mother enjoyed thinking about otherworldly things.  She read dream interpretation books and told stories of strange things happening in the old house that she grew up in, and shared that she would not be frightened if someone from the past showed up at the foot of her bed.  She would welcome her visitor and try to decipher what it was they wanted to tell her.

I did not share her musings.  I considered that if a specter showed up on my bed I would die of heart failure on the spot, and prayed that God would lock any door from the spirit world that had access to my room.

Luckily, I grew up ghost encounter free, never seeing a spirit within the walls of our old farmhouse, nor did I hear or see objects move around on their own.  Sometimes people would come to visit and maintain that they heard unexplained sounds coming from the walls of our house.  There are no ghosts here; probably just mice, we’d scoff.

Living in a house that my husband and I watched being built, and most definitely not on top of a graveyard, I harbor no beliefs that ghosts reside in our current home.  Strange sounds are the noises a settling house makes; changes in temperature outside makes the walls snap, crackle, and pop.  Having children around guarantees that things will not be in the order I left them.  I see moving shadows and light out of the corner of my eye and know that it is the flicker of the sun off a neighbor’s car window, the breeze stirring up fallen leaves in our yard.

But we also have a dark dining room between our living room and bedrooms, and you better believe that when the house is quiet and it’s time for bed, I’m running up those stairs as fast as I can.




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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #5: Write about a time you thought there was a ghost.

19 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness…so captivated by your story. I didn't live in an old farmhouse, but I was very drawn to the supernatural shows, etc., when I was a kid. This had me laughing: "After the show was over, I’d tear through our dark dining room and up the stairs to outrun a languid specter. Later, I’d lie in bed, eyes squeezed safely shut against the possibility of one of my dead-and-gone ancestors floating around my ceiling and waving hello." Love it!

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    1. I find ghosts and supernatural things fascinating, but I would never want to be involved in any of it. I guess I like leaving certain things to my imagination.

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  2. Even if you know there is nothing there, your brain says otherwise. Spooky!

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    1. Oh yeah, my mind can conjure up something that isn't there faster than you can say Boo! :)

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  3. My folks owned an old house that stood vacant and forlorn for many years, and was dubbed "the haunted house" by locals. In their later years, they remodeled it and even though it was gorgeous and no longer "haunted," I still got the creeps whenever I stayed there.

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    1. It's funny how we never really let go of those old memories.

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  4. LOL, cute. Sometimes there's just ghosts in our minds.

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  5. I can't watch those ghost reality shows any more.
    And because I have in the past, imbibed on them, I have come to realize I can never live in a house that was lived in by other people.
    In case someone might have died in it.
    DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY EVIL GHOSTS THERE ARE OUT THERE?????
    Damn girlllll.

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    1. Yeah. Casper the friendly ghost is just a fairy tale. Everyone knows ghosts are out to get us.

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  6. Hey... I still walk quickly (RUN!) to my bed after I turn out the lights... I totally get it. But it's something I just can't stop watching. (Love horror and scary stuff!) Great post! Coming at you from Mama's Losin' It!

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  7. After our house fire in 2013, we lived in a rental house for six months.
    My kids were convinced the place was haunted and slept poorly, claiming their beds shook, that they heard footprints; that ghosts were all around us. Mostly at night.

    I, who am usually the most intuitive and sensitive, felt none of it. Nothing. Nada.

    Perhaps I was too consumed with the rebuild and trying to keep our daily lives as normal as possible to be picking up on the subtle signs they swore were everywhere.

    Perhaps ghosts don't really exist (shhhh....don't tell my kids!).

    To this day, they are adamant the house was haunted; to this day, so am I. It wasn't.

    I guess the fascinating part about spirits is that the truth remains a mystery.

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    1. Oooo, I love that last line! "The truth remains a mystery."

      I feel like any strange home is haunted to kids. Kids are weird.

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  8. I'm with you- I would die of heart failure ON THE SPOT.

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    1. This is why ghosts choose to stay hidden from me.

      As if they needed another reason to be haunted. Heh. Heh heh.

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  9. Ooh, you just brought back creepy childhood memories! I too grew up in an old farmhouse. Every now and then we'd let our imaginations grow way too big. The scary movies did not help- eventually I had to cut them out as I still cannot dangle my feet over the side of my bed for the fear my ankle will be slashed by a possessed child brought back from the dead, hiding underneath my bed. (Pet Cemetery!)

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    1. Oh my goodness! Is that where that's from? I think I blocked out all the scary movies I watched as a child. They come back in snippets just like the one you described.

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