Have you ever experienced some weird, spooky things that you just didn’t have an explanation for? Seen something out of the corner of your eye, only to turn and see nothing? Heard a noise and couldn’t find the source? Our rational mind looks for explanations. A cold spot in the room? Must be a drafty window. Hearing things go bump in the night? Must be the furnace kicking on or the old pipes groaning. But what about the things you couldn’t explain? Because ghosts aren’t real, right? Or are they? I’ll tell you about some experiences I’ve had that leave more questions than answers, and then you tell me yours.
so I can judge if you’re crazier than I am.
My first “Maybe ghosts are real” moment was in Houlton, Maine when I was about 9. We had just moved from New Jersey to my family’s home of many generations on Court Street. We were a family of women then. Myself, my sister, my mom, my grandmother, Beatrice Berry and her sister whom we called HoHo, Dot Watson. I loved that house and spent hours exploring the hidden nooks and crannies, reading my mom’s old Nancy Drew books and searching through the trunks and boxes in the attic that were full of clothing and toys from an era gone by.
There was a beautiful mahogany staircase that started up just inside the front door of the house. A beautiful stained glass window cast rich rainbows on the first flight of steps that stopped at a large landing, turned left and continued to the second floor. The woodwork on the banister was ornately detailed and there was the most beautiful, jewel-toned horsehair carpet on the staircase.
I never felt anything going up the stairs, ever..but almost every time I’d go down the stairs towards the landing, you got the feeling that someone was directly behind you. Not malevolent, no ill-intent, but very apparent..at least to me. I remember turning around and looking over my shoulder so many times, convinced that my sister was trying to sneak up behind me. (Hi, Robyn! Sorry!)
I don’t know when I noticed the feeling on the staircase, but I remember the first time I asked my mother about it. She wasn’t alarmed, or concerned in any way..she seemed almost amused. She told me that she had felt that on the staircase in that house since she first learned to climb the stairs. She always thought it was a motherly figure who went behind the children to make sure that they didn’t fall down the stairs on the slippery horsehair carpet. If it was good enough for my mom, it was good enough for me, and I always thought, “Thank you”, to whomever or whatever it was behind me on the stairs after that.
Next. The scene..My late teen years in an old farmhouse on Tamworth Farm Road in Blue Hill. It was another very old house full of women. Me, my mom, my sister Robyn and HoHo. My Grammie had passed away a couple of years earlier and Mom was an RN at Blue Hill Hospital. One morning, I woke up and went downstairs. My mom met me in the kitchen and said, “Is Amy still sleeping?”. Amy was my best girlfriend who lived in Castine. I told my mom that I didn’t know, I hadn’t called her yet, but I was assuming she was, why? My mother gave me a raised eyebrow and said, “Who’s that upstairs in the middle bedroom, then?”.
Turns out my mother had come home from work around midnight, (she worked the 3-11pm shift) gotten changed, watched some TV and before going to bed around 2, she came to check on me. To get to my room, which was at the back of the house, she had to walk thru my sister’s bedroom (she was away at college) which sat between my and my mother’s bedrooms. While walking through my sister’s room, she said she saw a girl curled up on her side with the covers pulled up almost over her head with white blonde hair spilling out onto the pillow. The figure was facing away from her, but Amy had white blonde hair so my mother just assumed it was her.
Needless to say, Amy was at home in her own bed and there hadn’t been anyone in our house but us. The bed was made and the dog hadn’t barked. (And he would have..super vocal black lab who barked at ANYTHING near our house) HoHo’s bedroom was downstairs, and from her bed she could see both the front and back doors and would have seen and heard anyone (the woman had ears like a bat) coming into the house and going upstairs. My mom swore up and down she saw someone there just as clearly as she had seen me in my own bed in the next room, leaving us all confused and more than a little goose-bumpy. Had a someone from long ago returned for a night in her old room?
Now this next one scared me then, and scares me to this day. Growing up as a teenager in Castine, we spent a lot of time in Witherle Woods. I’d like to say all we did in there was cross country ski and walk our dogs, but that would be a huge lie. One night in early winter when I was 18, a friend and I were sitting in my mother’s little Broco II (Those were the best!) talking and listening to Van Halen. I’d like to say that we were also praying for world peace and trying to solve world hunger, but that would also be a huge lie.
Anyhoo….we were parked well in the woods, about 50 feet up a dirt trail in a small clearing with the lights off. My friend looked out the window and said, “What the hell?” and just as he said it, the car got violently shoved forward about a foot. In park. We both looked in every direction and we were totally alone. No buddies playing pranks, which is what I expected it had to be. We were out in the middle of a clearing. We would have not only seen, but heard anyone trying to get back to the trees to hide. There was no one, nothing, just us. I asked my friend (while frantically hitting the door locks and starting the car) what he had seen, and he said that something darker than the woods moved by his window. No shape or form, just inky black moving fast towards his side of the car. Needless to say, we bugged out of there and to this day I’m scared of being out in the woods after dark. Really.
And most recently, our new house. We’ve been in here about 2 and a half years now, and the house itself is only 4, so it’s not like it’s haunted by anyone, right? The house the girls and I lived in for 8 years before this was well over 50 and there wasn’t so much as a single bump in the night. No weird feelings, no noises..nothing. But here’s the thing. You can hear things in this house that don’t make sense.
Not long after moving in, I was sitting on the floor in our downstairs family room folding laundry. Mark was at work, the girls were at school and the sun was shining brightly. We have a split-level home and to get up to our front door from the yard, you have to go up a fairly tall set of stairs. Well, while I was sitting there, I heard footsteps coming up to the front door. Not only did I hear them, I felt the vibration of them since I was sitting on the hardwood (laminate) floor. I looked up the stairs at the front door and…..nothing. No one knocked. I knew there had to be someone standing on our porch, since I heard and felt them come up, but hadn’t heard them go down. I went up the stairs to the front door and not a soul was out there. Not on our porch, in our yard, or out on the whole street. Not a soul.
I immediately second-guessed myself and thought, “Jesus, Mary & Joseph…was that in the house? Coming from upstairs? Now at 46, I’m long past any fear of the unknown (unless it’s in the woods at night). I don’t get scared, I get mad. I’ll be damned if I’m going to be scared in my own home, so I tore through this house stem to stern and no closet or shower got left out. Nothing to be found, nothing out of place. It’s broad daylight. Doors are locked, the neighbors are home, two of them police officers. So what was it?
Fast forward a few weeks and I’m talking on the phone with my daughter’s teacher about an upcoming Special Olympics event. Again, broad daylight, nobody home but me. I sit down in the family room and as we’re talking I hear heavy footsteps coming up the steps, and again, I feel the vibrations. Someone big is making their way to the front door. I tell her teacher to excuse me, I may have to answer the door here in a second, there’s someone coming up the steps. I go upstairs only to see….you guessed it. Nothing. No one. I laugh it off on the phone, ha-ha…I must have been mistaken, but I KNOW what the sound of people going up and down my own steps sounds like. I know you can feel it in the hardwood floors, so what gives?
Moving on, right before Christmas last year, I was wrapping presents downstairs while the kids and Mark were sleeping. I heard footsteps, very light and quiet, going overhead towards the staircase. I immediately said, “Stop, I’ve got presents down here, don’t come down!”, assuming it was one of my kids. I ran up the stairs, wondering which kid was up and out of bed at midnight. Neither of them were. Both girls were sound asleep in their beds. Mark was sound asleep in our bed downstairs. As I was standing there wondering if either one of my kids was starting to walk in their sleep, I heard footsteps, light ones, going down the outside steps from the front porch. I was standing just a few feet from the door with a crystal clear view of our porch, steps and yard..there was no one there. And yet I was hearing someone leaving our porch and going down to the yard. I turned on the porch light, even opened the door. Empty.
I haven’t heard or seen anything since, and I’m not sure that I want to. My 12 year old took a year off my life last week by saying from bed, “Mom, there’s someone on the front porch”. It was late at night, I was getting ready to go to bed and I said, “What do you mean, there’s somebody on the porch?” and went up to look. Nothing was there, of course. She said she thought that she saw a shape of a person standing at our front door. I assured her it was a reflection from inside the house, or a shadow being cast by the streetlights. In a black and white world, of course that’s what it was. Right? Right?
Now you guys. Tell me if you’ve ever had to wonder if maybe the world isn’t as black and white as we think it is. Or tell me that there have always been shades of gray and what you’ve seen.