Thursday, September 9, 2010

I See Dead People (Ghost in the Machine Revisited)

“I know why I keep seeing things out of the corner of my eye”, my son said to me as I was cooking dinner. I couldn’t wait to hear what he had come up with this time. My son, like me, has some insatiable need to have an explanation for everything. There is no gray area for this child. “I don’t know” simply won’t do. Every mystery under the sun has an answer, and he won’t rest until he finds it. (Or he makes it up, occasionally) “I found out that you don’t get your peripheral vision until you’re around eight years old,” he announced, “so, that explains it.” Yes, it made sense as to why he was seeing strange things out of the corner of his eye lately, but what about me? According to his science, I have had my peripheral vision for nearly thirty-four years now, so why am I catching odd, fleeting glimpses as well?

About a week ago, my son confided in me that since my mother died, he sees flashes of “things” around the house every now and then. He’ll see someone breeze by his doorway, only to find that no one is upstairs with him. He said there are evenings when he thinks he sees his little sister do the unthinkable and enter his room uninvited, but when he goes to shoo her out, she’s in her own bedroom playing with her Barbie dolls. He told me that he gets a feeling like he’s being watched sometimes. (Okay, that was easy enough to debunk…we have high voltage power lines down the street and every good ghost hunter knows they can make you feel creepy. He totally bought it, too.)

He had to find the answer himself for these seemingly paranormal experiences because when he asked me point blank if I believe in ghosts, I gave him a very gray-area kind of response. My ingenious comeback was, “Have you ever seen those guys on ‘Ghost Hunters’ find any real evidence that ghosts are here? Seriously…they are seeking them out and trying to provoke them, but their findings are marginal at best.” I could tell he wasn’t buying it, though. He was hoping I would tell him without reservation that he was simply seeing the dogs waddle past or that it was the television flashing in his peripheral vision. He wanted a stoic assurance from me that the sounds he hears are coming from the dishwasher or the air conditioner, but I couldn’t give it to him. I, too, have had some run-ins with the unexplained in the last couple of years that have left me scratching my head.

I have always been a skeptic and poo-pooer of all things other worldly, but I can’t find a definite source of the weirdness I have witnessed in my own home as of late. One recent night as I was in my dark bedroom perusing the internet for a cure for cancer (or watching Youtube videos…I can’t remember which), I saw my daughter walk by me on her way to the bathroom. I quickly jumped up and went after her to make sure she wasn’t sick, but no one was there. A bedroom check confirmed that both children were sleeping soundly. But, I know I saw her. I know I saw someone in a white gown.

A similar scenario played out another evening while I was watching television. (Don’t judge – I’m sure it was a PBS documentary or something else as wholesome.) Sitting with my back to the bedroom, I heard the very distinctive sound of my glass shower door being closed too hard for my liking. Thinking that a kid (or two) was about to be busted for slamming doors, I got up to go lay down the law about how they are going to end up shattering the glass, and how they know better, and the rest of the Mom Speech they love to hear.  However, the bathroom light wasn’t even on, and the kids were downstairs.

I will admit to being a little spooked, so I diligently checked every possible source of the noise. Nothing fell in the closet. All bottles and cans were upright under the sink. Three dogs were present and accounted for. At this point, I’m thinking I have a toilet-obsessed entity occupying my house. (Or perhaps it likes to primp and is just enjoying the double vanity mirror.) And, it isn't just me.  My husband said he regularly sees "something" in the upstairs hallway, but we try not to talk about it much because that would mean we are certifiably crazy, right? RIGHT?

What really sent me over the edge was an incident last December, though. I was searching the china cabinet drawers for a pile of my mother’s Christmas recipes. My daughter walked up behind me and said, “Whatcha doin’, Mommy?” Without turning around, I replied, “I’m looking for Granny’s recipes. I’m going to make some of the goodies that she used to make for us.” She stood there quietly for a minute and then said matter-of-factly, “Granny says you’re looking in the wrong place.” I stopped cold in my tracks as the hair on the back of my neck stood on end and goose bumps came over my arms. I slowly turned around, and said “Really? Can Granny tell me where I should look?” She seemed to be thinking about it and said, “No, but it’s definitely not in there.” 

I kept up my fruitless search for a while longer before abandoning it for house cleaning. A few days later while on another wild goose chase, I found the recipes, and they were in a completely different room than I was looking before. Granny was right. She couldn't remember where she left them, but she knew it wasn't in the china cabinet.  And,  I was more than just a little freaked out.

I’m pleading the fifth when it comes to whether or not I really believe in ghosts. It’s very hard not to come across as a Sci-Fi-Channel-Loving Weirdo when you declare that ghosts really are among us. I told my kids that even if there was a ghost in the house, it’s just their grandmother, and there is no reason to fear it. I told them to think of it more as a Guardian Angel, and to sleep better knowing she is watching over them. Honestly though, my mom was a no-nonsense kind of woman, and I find it difficult to believe she would be wasting her time in the afterlife floating around the second floor of my home.  Although, it does go a long way toward explaining why my television is always on the Food Network when I turn it on…


  1. I personally believe, granted I don't believe EVERY encounter, and I am happy to disprove things. I've had a few encounters I can't quite explain...My biggest one was on an air craft carrier. I was leaving the bathroom to go back to where we were staying, I was with a Girl Scout group, and I SWEAR I saw someone walk into a room, I saw a bright white shoulder, I figured it was one of the girls so I checked and no one was there, and no lights were on...My mom felt a cold rush while she tried to sleep that night, and felt as though someone shook her. In my sisters old apartment, it was a house that had been split so there was a foyer downstairs and a long staircase leading to the living area. Several times my sister swore she heard her room mate on the steps, only to have no one finally make it up, she also woke to find someone sitting on her chest of drawers, she thought it was the room mate, but she hadn't been out of bed that night...We also had lots of weird things at our house, squeegee falling off the shower, T.V. turning on, I swore I saw my mom when the sliding doors were shut and mom was in her chair, and of course, one time a bottle cap fell out of thin air, of course we had NO soda with caps in the house, and hadn't had any for some time...Not to mention those odd, I swear I looked there before moments...

  2. I believe. Im not ashamed either. Ive yet to find but a handful of people that havent had some experience they put in their "spooky file." Frankly, I think the rest are either not willing to share or talked themselves out of it. I had many encounters as a child. I think the idea that children are more open seems reasonable.
    Sometimes we freak ourselves out and it was nothing. But isnt the fact that we CONSIDER it enough to get freaked out interesting? Proof even naysayers have doubt. My whole family is gone. I am the last one except my dementia ridden grandmother, bless her heart. They dont visit me except in my dreams. But I hope they are with her when I cant be. I hope they take away some of here fear when she cant remember where she's at. I hope when she goes to be with them she tells them how lonely it is here without then and I get a glimmer every now and them.


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