Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ghosts Don't Wait For Halloween

Halloween is almost here. It is my next-to-favorite time of the year. I love to decorate my home, inside and out, with scary scarecrows and witches and things that go "boo!" in the night. My husband installs a green light at the curb of our house, and when it goes on at dark, strange things happen! Shadows begin to sway, witches begin to fly, and it is one heck of a frightening place for people to see! And I love it.

But this is not about Halloween. This is about the ghosts that are real. Not made up, not in fiction, but those that happen in real life. Don't believe in ghosts? My husband didn't either, for much of our marriage. He does now.

I saw my first ghost when I was twelve. We had just moved into a rented house in Seattle, Washington, coming from Seward, Alaska. My parents told me not to go into the attic, because the people who owned the house kept stuff up there, and I should leave it alone. One day I came home from school and the house was very quiet. My father was at the Army fort where he was stationed, my mother was at work. I started to do my homework, but then I heard it. Faint musical notes. Strange, I didn't have the radio on. I went back to my math problems, but came again. Louder, this time, and definitely somewhere in the house. I searched for the sound in every room, but we only had two radios and both were turned off and silent. ( This was in the horse-and-buggy days before TV.)

As I passed the stairs to the attic, I could hear the music more distinctly. I paused. Yes, it was definitely coming from the attic. I wasn't supposed to go up there...but that was then, this was now. I climbed the stairs and found the door was unlocked, for some reason. I opened it.  The first thing I saw was a very old organ, the kind you had to foot pedal to get the musical sounds. The second thing I saw was the lady. She was not much more than a smoky blue figure, but she was there. And playing the organ. I must have made a noise, because she turned. When she saw me, she vanished. The music stopped. The foot pedals stopped moving.

For almost every day of the eleven months we lived there, I went up the attic stairs, opened the door just a crack, and watched the Lady in Blue play the organ. If she saw me, she vanished. I learned to sit on the top stair, and open the door just a crack, and it was okay.

My parents never saw her, but she was not the only ghost in that house. We also had a poltergeist that loved to torment my mother in the kitchen. She would be cooking, and a cupboard door would fly open, and dishes would fall onto the floor. I spent more time sweeping up broken dishes that I did washing them. Once my parents had company, and they were sitting on sofas which faced each other in front of the fireplace. A vase of freshly cut roses was on the mantle. It suddenly flew off the mantle and dumped water and roses all over the woman guest. They left soon after.

There were other incidents of ghostly behavior in my life, like when my children and their father bought me an antique spinning wheel for my birthday. No, the wheel didn't spin wool by itself, but several strange things happened in our house after it came. Items disappeared from both my son's and daughter's rooms; I came home one day from the university where I was teaching, and found every picture in the living and family rooms turned to the wall; one night there was a funny sound like someone was continually dropping something. My teen-age son went into the main bath and came back with this comical look on his face. He told us to come see what was happening: the toilet seat was going up, coming down, going up, coming down. We all stood there with our mouths open for at least five minutes, watching that stupid seat go up, come down, go up, come down. It finally stopped.

When Richard and married, 37 years ago, he was the typical male non-believer in anything psychic, strange, ghostly, or otherwise not explainable nor understandable in technical terms. He was a Project Manager in Aerospace, so he had no time to believe in "unearthly" things. Except: he learned over the years that there were times when I told him something was going to happen. Something I could not possibly have known about. And it did. A few times I asked him not to do something, or go somewhere, it was important to me that he didn't. He always listened, and always, something went wrong...once there was a fatal accident at the exact point on our freeway that he would have been on at that same time.

He always knew I had an unexplainable bond with the horses, both ours and those brought to the ranch for training. I always knew when one of them was sick. Our vet would come out, examine the horse, and say, "Mikki, I can't find anything wrong." He would leave, return an hour or so later when the horse was down. He started asking me to come with him when he had to examine an unruly horse, especially if it was a stallion. I could quiet the most anxious or frightened or just downright ornry horse simply by talking to him. I could get the most untrainable horse to come to me, by silent communication...which is why we had a few, uh, uncooperative young horses come in for training over the years.

But that is not a ghost. When we sold our ranch, our present home was not finished yet, so we had to live for 9 months in a rented house in the High Desert of Southern California. The first thing that happened there occurred right after we moved in. We had bought a new refrigerator for the new house, but couldn't get it hooked up in the rental where we could use the automatic ice water maker. So Richard put the filter for that up on top of the fridge, still in its box, and said to leave it there so he would know where it was when it came time to move to the coast. The next day the filter was gone. It stayed gone for 9 months. The day I was packing up dishes for our move, I opened the cupboard door and found the filter sitting on top of the dinner plates. I called Richard to come see it, and said, "See, Mergatroid has been at it all along."

Mergatroid was the name we gave to our ghost. Oh, yes, he was real. He took my favorite coffee mug from where I had left it one night, and never gave it back. He took a chain that Richard was going to use to secure the back fence. We turned the house upside down and inside out, and never found the chain. Until the day we moved, when one of the movers picked it up off the floor from under the sofa. Oh yes, that sofa had been moved, the cushions turned out, but no chain was there...until that day.

One night, Richard was up late watching TV. I heard him yakking at the TV, and came out of the bedroom, asking what was wrong. I looked at the TV and saw what was wrong: the picture went off, then came on, went off, came on, went off, and small green circles of light came out of the TV and plastered themselves on the wall. The circles started off small, getting bigger and bigger as they moved on the wall towards Richard and his chair. They stopped just opposite his chair, then started back to the TV, getting smaller and smaller as they went. The picture came on, the circles disappeared, and everything was fine. Except my husband. But that incident, and many others while we lived in that house, convinced him without a doubt that ghosts were real.

In the Seattle house, the Blue Lady was the woman who had owned the house, and who, one day at about age 90 something, died of a heart attack as she was playing the organ. We didn't know who the poltergeist was.

As for the spinning wheel, it had been owned by two sisters, never married, who had used that wheel to spin wool and cotton as their main means of financial support. This was back in the 1800s.

We found out about the time we moved from the rental in the High Desert that all the houses on that street, the last in the neighborhood, were built over an ancient Indian graveyard. The Guaymaya Indian tribes who still lived in that area had fought the developer about those houses, but had lost the battle, and the houses were built in the 1990s. I'm sure that "Mergatroid" was the spirit...or ghost...of someone who was buried at one time beneath that house.

I believe in ghosts. Not the kind you can communicate with, but they are real, nevertheless. There are too many instances in my life, true, real incidents, where a ghost has made his or her presence known, for me not to believe. And now, Richard does, too.

I'm not a psychic. But I talk to horses. And there are still times when I know what is going to happen before it does happen. Those incidents don't come often, any more, for which I'm glad because I have never had an explanation for them.

Do you believe in ghosts?