I believe in ghosts more than I believe in most people. I’ve just always had reason to believe that there is definitely something left behind once our physical bodies have gone. It was instilled in me as a kid, but so was open-mindedness. Believe in the unbelievable.
Growing up, my mom would always say “Just recognize them as your Guardian Angels.” And that’s what I did. There were things that happened that were spooky, but I sometimes actually felt comforted. Isn’t that weird? I felt comforted by the presence of spirits. Well, I was always a weird kid anyway.
When I was eight, my family and I moved into a big house that had been built in the early 1900’s. Five bedrooms, two full bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, triple living room, creepy basement… The lot of it. The important part of this story is the reason why we moved into that particular house. You see, my parents had actually had their eyes on another house, but things went slightly wrong when we went to see it for the first time.
My little sister, who was five at the time, grabbed onto my mom’s arm and said “Mom, someone died in here.”
I think my dad had my sister and I loaded into the car before my mom could even tell the realtor that we were no longer interested. My dad’s not as much of a believer as my mom and I are, but my sister’s comment had given him second thoughts that day.
We ended up in the big house, but, little did we know at the time, that one was haunted too. I use the term “haunted” loosely. Haunted has a negative connotation, and there was really nothing negative about our experience in that house. I think my sister and I were still young enough that we didn’t know any better. We still went to investigate when we heard noises coming from the empty room across the hall. Now, I would run so far in the other direction you wouldn’t see me for days. I’ve watched too many horror movies since then.
We had quite a bit of movement from our ghosty friend in that house. We thought there was just one old soul hanging around, and we named him George. (We soon decided he needed a wife, but she wasn’t very active. Her name was Gina.) Morgan, my sister, and I would sit in front of the TV at night during the summer and play Super Mario Bro’s. We had an old TV angled in the corner of the dining room, and we’d sit in bean bag chairs with our backs to the kitchen. The first time we met George was one summer night when we heard someone walking around in the kitchen. We both looked at each other at the same time, out of the corners of our eyes because our bodies were completely frozen with horror, and waited. When we got brave enough to turn and look toward the sound, we saw nothing but our empty kitchen.
After that, we would hear him walking around in the kitchen pretty much every night. We got used to it and had basically decided that he wasn’t there to hurt us.
My mom was putting laundry away one day, and she walked into her bedroom to find a smell so strong it was like she walked into a wall. To this day, 18 years later, she recalls the story so well that I just know she wasn’t making it up. There never was a story she told that I didn’t believe, but some recollections you feel so strongly, even if you weren’t the one who experienced them.
She had smelled the stench in this particular room of the house more than once, but she said that day it was stronger than ever. It just smelled like an old man; there’s no other way to describe it. She says “I told him to go out in the yard and help me watch you girls, since you were playing out there by yourselves.” She never smelled the old man again after that.
We also always heard George walking up or down the stairs at night. It was an old house; the stairs were a little creaky. My dad never believed us or heard it himself; he always said we were just hearing sounds of the old house settling. Well, one night, my mom woke to my dad sitting up in bed, staring out into the hallway. When she asked what he was looking at, he said, “I swear I just heard someone walking up the stairs.”
The extent of George’s inclusion in the big house was mostly just sounds and smells. After living there for six years, my dad decided he wanted to build his own house. Once it was built and livable, we had been there about six months when we realized George was no longer around. We sat at the kitchen table one night talking about the fact that George had not been around since we moved; we just assumed he had stayed behind in the big house.
We all went to bed that night, like we had for the past six months, in the new house. I was sleeping in the office right next to the front door because my basement room wasn’t finished yet, and my parents and Morgan were down the hall in their own rooms. A few hours into the night, we woke up to the doorbell going off. It wasn’t like someone had pressed the doorbell once in order to get someone to answer; someone was holding that button until they got someone’s attention.
I think we all jumped out of bed because it scared us initially. My mom answered the door, wondering who the hell was calling on us at that hour, but no one was there. We thought the button, being fairly new, was stuck or something. It happened a second time, just minutes later. My dad messed with the button a little bit to see if that helped. For the third time that night, we all got in bed.
It happened again.
This time, Mom had had enough. She flung the front door open and said, “Alright, come on in then!”
As if he was summoned by our conversation that night, George was back.
There were a lot of times we heard noises in the basement or felt cool air pockets and knew that George was around, but there are two major occurrences that I retell when I’m telling George’s story.
One night, mom, dad, and I were all sitting at the kitchen table talking. This was years down the road; I was out of college at this point. I think I remember the topic of conversation, but that is a story for another time. We were talking about something that had recently happened, and my mom mimicked a knock on the door by rapping her knuckles on the bottom of the table. We were laughing and carrying on when we heard Mom’s knocking being echoed. It sounded like it came from outside, but we all stopped and stared at each other. Mom immediately accused my dad, who denied doing it. She knocked on the table again, three times, and we all watched each other to make sure Dad wasn’t the one doing it.
Again, the knocks were echoed outside of the house.
My dad grabbed one of his rifles and went outside to look for the source. He came back a little later with no answer and nothing to say for the knocking. To this day, we never found another reason for it other than George just playing a game with us.
The next occurrence took place a few months before the knocking, but I think it’s the most important of all the stories; and so I saved it for last. I was at home on a Tuesday night. I didn’t work Tuesday’s because my section of the Country Club was only open Wednesday-Saturday. I was getting ready to go to Des Moines anyway to meet some friends. I was living with my parents, so I was about 30 minutes from where I was going. I had gone to my room and changed, grabbed my purse and my keys, and was standing at the door talking to my mom. I was literally about to walk out the door when we heard a scraping sound coming from the basement. We stopped talking and listened, and we heard it again. Scraping, like something was being dragged across the cement floor.
We went downstairs together, arms linked and all the lights on along the way. When we got to the landing level of the stairs, where we could see the rest of the basement without going any further, we stopped. Sitting in the middle of the basement floor by itself was a single wooden chair. The chair belonged to a table and chair set that we had sitting down there, but the rest of the pieces were lined up neatly along the wall.
We did some checking and found no one else in the house. We knew that George had moved that chair, we just didn’t know why. He’d shut doors and knocked on things, but he had never physically moved anything before.
After about 20 minutes spent calming ourselves down, I left to meet my friends. Before I pulled out of the driveway, I grabbed my cell phone so I could text everyone and let them know I’d be a little late. When I opened my phone, I had a text from a girlfriend I hadn’t talked to in a while.
“Hey! Where are you right now? I just drove past a really bad accident on I-80, and it looked like your car. Just wanted to make sure you were okay!”
I ran back in the house to tell my mom. The accident had occurred right where I was headed, at the same time I would have been headed there. I only missed it because of my delay thanks to George moving that chair. When I told my mom this, the color drained from her face.
“I never told you this, but right before you got this car, I had a dream that you got into a really bad car accident. I haven’t said anything because, in the dream, your car was red just like the car you’re driving now.”
Ever since that moment, I have considered George a Guardian Angel. Who really knows what else he saved me from over the years? There were times my sister and I would play tennis on the roof, or fly down the driveway on our bikes without fear of falling.
Now, whenever I sense something paranormal, I say “Hey!” to George.