I’d never really been the kind of person who believed in ghosts until I lived with one.
Years ago, we bought our first house from the family of a woman who’d died there. That family had been the original owners back when that particular long-established neighborhood was nothing more than a field, and the city of Baton Rouge barely had electricity. The woman had grown up there as a child, married, lived there, had one daughter, and died there. By all accounts, she was a sweet old woman who loved children and was broken hearted to have not been able to have more. Her daughter had not been able to have any, either, and this was a constant source of sadness to her.
When we moved in, the house needed tremendous work, as it was still lodged back in the 30s and 40s. (I am not exaggerating, people. I saw wiring there that even antiques would think was antique.) We worked on the house while I was pregnant with our first kid, and I never really thought much of the fact that if I mentioned something was missing, it turned up a few minutes later in plain sight. I just thought, “hormones” and that I was overlooking easy stuff.
After Luke was born, a strange thing started happening–well, there was more of the finding things, but the rocking chair in the living room would just start rocking, all on its own. It would be different rhythms at different times–sometimes leisurely, sometimes a bit frantic. There’d be no one else in the house but me, Luke and that chair. I’d move the chair to other parts of the room, and then other rooms in the house, thinking that the rhythm of me walking across the floor was setting the thing into motion. Nope. I actually tried using walking across the floor to set the thing in motion and the damned thing remained stock still.
Cue Toni wondering about her sanity. (Sadly, not for the last time.)
Luke had colic, pretty awful, actually, and there were a lot of sleepless nights and catnaps caught whenever I could, because he was miserable. This went on for nine months, at which point I was pretty sure I had lost my mind back in month 6 and no one had bothered to tell me. All through this, the chair kept rocking, things kept turning up as I needed them. The mailman started asking after my ‘grandmother’ who he sometimes waved to when he was delivering the mail. I thought he meant my husband’s grandmother who lived across the street and visited often, but he actually knew her by name and said, “No, the other lady. The tall one.” I had exactly zero tall grandmothers present.
I took all of this in stride because frankly, I was so exhausted, that “crazy” wasn’t really all that far to go, and I figured that if I started talking about ghosts and rocking chairs and imaginary grandmas and things turning up, someone was going to come quietly take me away and I didn’t want my kid to know his mom had gone looney. (Poor thing has no choice now. But he’s old enough to handle it.)
One night, I heard Luke crying and I was so weary, I stumbled down the short hall to his room, looked in as I approached and the moon was shining through his window, illuminating an old woman bent over his crib. I screamed bloody murder. It is the one time in my life I am ashamed to say I didn’t act, didn’t move forward, just screamed. I scared the living hell out of Carl, who flew past me to see what was wrong, and the woman was gone. (We were blocking the only exit.) Luke, on the other hand, was sleeping for the first time in days, and continued to sleep, in spite of my freaking out. [As an older kid–when he was about six, he commented once on the old lady that came to visit him sometimes.]
There was a particular stint, though, where Luke seemed to get worse instead of better and the doctors just kept assuring me he’d grow out of it. I think it had been about three or four days with only two hours of sleep here or there, and I was just so cranky and tired, it wasn’t funny. I hadn’t bathed, I don’t think I ate anything healthier than days-old pizza, and that damned rocker just kept going off and rocking frantically. The more Luke cried, the more the damned thing rocked, and finally, middle of the day, Luke screaming at the top of his lungs, the rocker going ninety-to-nothing, I snapped. I turned to the rocker and yelled at it and said, “Could you just stop it! You’re driving me nuts!”
And it stopped. Right there. Mid-rock. Just stopped.
The evidence of her presence didn’t go away–but it wasn’t as scary dramatic after that, which I greatly appreciated.
Later, we moved (I took the chair with me–it has never rocked on its own elsewhere). I had kinda forgotten about the ghost, but one day was visiting my sister-in-law who now lives on the same block as that old house. I commented on all of the improvements they’d just made, and she said they were moving out. Suddenly. She said, “the wife claims the house is haunted and won’t live there.” The woman told another neighbor that the ghost apparently didn’t like her husband much because his keys constantly went missing, even though they would put them in a place where the kids couldn’t reach them. His stuff was constantly falling off shelves and breaking. Buttons missing from shirts. But the crowning moment for them was when he was yelling at the kids and his keys came flying across the room and smacked him on the head–and there was no one standing where the keys had originated from. They swore they saw an old woman at times, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.
I have to admit, I’m really curious if the new owners have experienced the same thing, but I haven’t been brave enough to go knock on the door and ask. How do you explain that sort of thing without them calling the police and having you carted off?
So, how about you? Ever run into any ghosts? Know of a good ghost story? Believe? Don’t believe?