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Spirits of the Dead

Updated on November 3, 2012
Haunted houses always seem to be old mansions like this one, but our home is a 1960s ranch. Could it be haunted, too?
Haunted houses always seem to be old mansions like this one, but our home is a 1960s ranch. Could it be haunted, too? | Source

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

I'm a skeptic about paranormal activity. After all, there have been some pretty impressive hoaxes out there, and on the rare occasions that "proof" is available, it's often questionable, prone to editing or special effects.

Nonetheless, the idea is fascinating. My husband and his daughter firmly believe that ghosts can and do exist. In fact, they are adamant that Mike, the one-time owner of our home, has been the reason for unusual happenings here. I'm not quite as certain, but then, I'm quick to discard anything that has even a remote chance of scientific explanation.

I want your opinion and stories! Will you agree with my husband and stepdaughter or find yourself remaining skeptical?

Haunted Places

It seems ghost stories always take place in buildings that were built a century or more ago: old hotels, bars, historic graveyards, and once luxurious mansions are among the most reputed haunted places in the country.

Perhaps it's because I've never lived in such antiquated homes that I've remained skeptical despite having unusual experiences from time to time. They say children and pets are most open to perceiving spirits, but some paranormal experts also say that adults sometimes perceive ghosts or spirits and quickly discredit their own experiences. Our pets don't seem alarmed, but maybe I'm one of those disbelieving adults, because I continue to wonder...

Our house was built in the 1960s. It's a young'un as far as haunted houses are concerned. It's a very normal looking ranch style brick home - three bedrooms and a finished basement. My husband grew up in the house right behind ours, where his folks still live. As a child, he said he always wanted to buy this house someday, and about twelve years ago it came up for sale and he realized his childhood dream.

He moved into it with his wife, his daughter, two stepchildren, and a few pets. Theirs was a raucous household with visitors coming and going, teens blasting their music from the basement bedroom as well as the upstairs ones, animals barking each time the doorbell rang or someone walked down the street.

Amanda, the youngest child in the house, always claimed she felt uncomfortable about going into the basement even though it was a bustling part of the house. When her stepmother and step-siblings moved out a few years ago, the house suddenly became much, much quieter.

About six months later, when her dad and I started dating, she told me she felt like there was a ghost in there, but she couldn't tell me why she felt that way. I shrugged it off. Until....

Real or Hoax?

Do you believe?

When I see videos like the one above, I seem to find reasons to doubt. In this one, for instance, the vertical lines that seem to "scan" across the screen both during the on-camera action and the creator's added text reminds me that editing capabilities can deceive viewers.

Unexplained Phenomena

One evening, I was lying in bed doing what insomniacs do best - trying to fall asleep. Throughout most of my life, I've had trouble getting to sleep, often staying awake until the wee hours of the morning. If I make it to dreamland before 3:00 a.m., I feel fortunate, because most nights I can lie awake for hours feeling frustrated and debating whether I should just get up and do some writing.

On this particular night, I'd gone to bed with my husband just after midnight. He was deep in slumber and I was feeling ansty. I looked at the clock. "2:12" read the digital numbers beside the bed. I thunked my head back onto my pillow. A few minutes later, the door between the family room and our garage - a door that was located immediately beneath my headboard - shut firmly.

Nobody was downstairs. Our dogs had been herded into our bedroom to sleep on the floor before we'd shut our own door for the night. Had Amanda gotten up for some reason? I looked at the clock. It was 2:20.

The sound had been very clear, and it was a sound I was familiar with. My husband putters about in the garage from time to time, and there was no doubt in my mind what I'd heard. I lay awake listening for the automatic garage door opener, wondering if Amanda's teenage wisdom might have led her to think sneaking out that way might be a good idea, but of course it never opened. I got out of bed and peeked into her room just in case, and found her sleeping soundly.

Would you doubt your own perceptions if you heard a door closing in your home late at night?

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Quiz: A Few Things I Learned After Our Experiences

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Rational Explanations

I'd heard about doors that close by themselves, had even seen a few. It can happen when a door needs to be adjusted or when a simple breeze strikes it. But this one made no sense to me for several reasons:

  1. It wasn't a door that we ever left open for more than a couple of minutes.
  2. It wasn't prone to closing by itself whenever I'd left it open while putting laundry into the washing machine.
  3. It had closed with enough force that it would have to be a pretty powerful breeze.
  4. I couldn't think of a single source of air movement capable of producing enough gust to close the door. The small window downstairs was never opened, and the vent near our bed showed me that the air conditioner fan wasn't running.

The following afternoon, I told my husband about my odd experience when he got home from work. I figured he'd be able to deduce what had happened. Instead, he reminded me of another unusual experience we'd recently had.

"Remember a couple of weeks ago when I asked if the cat had run across the bed?" he asked.

Yes, I remembered. We don't allow our pets onto our furniture, and shortly after we'd laid down a cat was traipsing around on the bed. We had both kicked our legs from side to side to chase it off. A few minutes later, when I had to use the toilet, I turned on the light. There wasn't a cat in the room. We'd been certain Maggie had been on the bed! I looked beneath the bed, and no, she wasn't there either. The closet doors were closed, too. We had puzzled over it a few moments, deciding it was something like the phantom vibrations of our phone when we aren't actually wearing it - a psychological expectation that makes us think it's there when we know it isn't. We snuggled back beneath the covers and I listened to my guy sleep for a while before I climbed back out of bed to kill the hours between eleven and slumber.

Have you experienced phantom sensations before?

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The Plot Thickens

Over dinner, we told Amanda about these events. "That's creepy!" she said. "I told you we have a ghost in the basement! I hear walking in the hallway sometimes at night and I think it's Maisie, but she's always in your room with you." Maisie is our arthritis-ridden 80 pound German Shepherd mix. She doesn't walk as much as she "lumbers" through the house with her uneven gait.

I reminded her that it's me haunting the hallway at night. "I know, but I heard it a couple times before you lived here," she said. I shrugged. Teenage imaginations can be almost as active as younger children's!

"And what about the thermostat?" she continued.

I had to admit she had a point. There had been many occasions that her dad got home from work and complained that the thermostat had been turned up. He liked to keep it between seventy and seventy-two, a bit chilly for me but not so uncomfortable that I messed with it. Often, he discovered it set to seventy-six or seventy-eight degrees and grumbled as he turned it back down to a temperature he liked. Amanda denied changing it, and I know I hadn't done it. A couple times, it had happened when Amanda had been gone for the weekend. so there was no reason to think she was lying when she said she hadn't touched it.

"The old woman who lived here when I was a kid died at the hospital, but I don't know if her husband died here or not," my husband said. He explained to me further. The couple who'd owned the house when he was growing up had been elderly, and although he talked to them from time to time, he didn't know them well. The woman had died after a prolonged illness, and her husband Mike remained living here until his death a few years later. Their heirs sold the house to another couple. The buyer was also named Mike, and he happened to work at the railroad where my husband works, which is how my guy learned that the house was for sale when Mike and his wife sold it again.

"Well, you could ask your parents if Mike died here. Your mom would probably know," I suggested. He agreed. Soon, we move our conversation to other subjects. I put the matter out of my mind and probably wouldn't have thought of it again, but my husband had other plans, it seemed.

More Mysteries

He did ask his mom, and she said she didn't know if the original Mike had died in our house or not.

A few days later, my husband informed me that he'd talked to the man who'd sold the house to him.

"I asked him if he'd ever experienced anything unusual," he told me. "He said he and his wife were wondering when I'd ask about it."

I'm sure I looked surprised.

"He said that the old man's cat would run across the bed when they were trying to sleep. He said that the bedroom blinds were raised once when they were in the room, too. I told him about the door you heard and then said that the thermostat kept changing and you know what he said?"

"That it changed when he was here, too?"

"He said, 'The old man sure liked it warm, huh?'" Finally he said that Mike believed his namesake had died in the house, but that he wasn't sure where he'd heard it.

As for me, I still felt skeptical but I had to admit that this was quite a coincidence. If my husband was prone to exaggeration, I might have disbelieved him, but hyperbole isn't part of his character.

My husband was embarrassed by his final admission to me. "I don't know if I should feel bad or good about him being here. Do you think he's trapped on earth or that he's attached to his home?"

What Do You Think?

Restless Spirit or Shared Delusions?

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Next Time, I'll Investigate Before I Chat to an Empty Room.

The Everything Ghost Hunting Book: Tips, tools, and techniques for exploring the supernatural world
The Everything Ghost Hunting Book: Tips, tools, and techniques for exploring the supernatural world
I wish I'd read this before our odd events. Maybe it would have helped me decide if I'd experienced a psychological aberration or something else.

Mystery Solved

I didn't know what to say. On one hand, I'd like to think that I don't believe in ghosts or spirits. I'd like to say that poltergeists are all figments of imagination. On the other hand, I think that there are many things that exist even if we can't see them, like the air we breathe, radio waves, or electrical energy. As a person with finely honed intuition, I recognize that our minds can perceive and process information beyond what we can sometimes consciously register with our eyes. But ghosts?

I felt silly when I decided to have a chat with ol' Mike. I crept downstairs around lunchtime and sat down on the sofa. "Mike, if you're here, you're welcome to stay, but your wife's not here anymore. You can be part of our family if you want to, but if you see a light, they say that you'll enter another realm, and that's where I think you'll find your wife."

There was no answer. Nothing fell off a shelf or flew across the room. I'd have felt better if something had, because the utter silence made me feel foolish. I rose and walked back up the stairs. It has been over a year, and we haven't had any more unexplained phenomena. My husband says it's because I chased away our ghost!

Unless I see incontrovertible evidence of ghosts, I may never be a true believer, but I can't rule out the possibility that we had a visiting spirit, either. What do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? Share your stories and opinions here.


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