Ghost of a Chance

I didn’t always believe in ghosts.

And maybe they don’t exist as described in the traditional forms of human lore, but I know there is certainly something beyond the visible spectrum bumping around among us.

We moved into a little brick house on the older side of town and it was an unassuming place that barely contained our family of six.  Two of my three younger brothers shared a room and my parents had to make due with a partially finished basement bedroom.

It seemed normal enough, but then the nightmares began.

The term night terrors had not made it into mainstream vernacular at that time, although they closely resemble the horrible dreams had so many times at that place.

The dream always started the same, at a door underneath the stairs at the otherwise innocent looking residence.  Of course, there was no visible door down there.  It was just a storage area with a cement floor next the unfinished laundry room.  In the dream, with some effort, I could push open the door.

Through the door it was initially dark, and it led to a meandering, endless cave.  The cave was somehow lit by flickering firelight and the sense of evil, whatever evil may actually be, was foreboding.  Within the dream, my heart rate increased and I always had the feeling I was being followed and it pushed me toward a particular carved out part of the cave.  All I ever knew was something horrible happened to someone there and I would awake in a cold sweat at various parts of the trek to that carved out area.

I was in high school at the time, so I went to library and did some dream research. I wanted to know what it meant.  Dream interpretation as it turns out is a fairly inaccurate science to this day, and it was even more speculative a couple decades ago.  There were no good answers.

I stayed awake a lot of nights.  Sleepless nights were preferred to experiencing the nightmare as often as possible.  I slept better away from home.  Be it on vacation, or a friend’s place or my grandparents — anywhere other than the nice little brick house on the old side of town.

One evening, one of my good pals was hanging out with me and we were listening to records, planning on some game time with other friends.  We were in the basement office, very near those stairs.  My parents were gone for the night, and they had left my little brothers at my grandmother’s house.  My friend and I were the only ones in the house.

Or so we thought.

The record player upstairs had gone quiet a half hour before.  I just didn’t feel like going up to flip the album over.  We were talking and laughing about something when suddenly, there was a loud noise upstairs above us, and then the record player started playing.  And no, it was not one of those turntables that was able to reset the needle itself.

We looked at each other and ran upstairs to investigate.  It took all of eight seconds to hop those stairs.  There was a hanging fern plant in the kitchen and it was swinging wildly back and forth, as if someone was just ahead of us and pushed the planter.

No one was there.

It was a cold fall day, so all of the windows and doors were locked.  The weird part was, as we continued to search the tiny house, none of the windows were open, and the front door was still secure, locked from the inside.

We searched around for the next hour for any clue of who might be trying to scare us, but no one was there, and nothing was found.  Needless to say, we continued the discussion elsewhere.

The nightmares resumed in full force shortly after.  We moved six months later, merely to a bigger place — no one else shared my night terror problem.  The first night at the new house, no bad dreams.  The nightmare never happened again.  I have always assumed something terrible happened to someone at that house, either before or after it was built.  I never did the research, I wasn’t sure I wanted to invite that event back into my life, whatever it was.

The only other spiritual or ghostly happening in life happened when my grandmother passed away.  It was very sudden, and I had had just visited her hours before, six plus hours away in another state.  When I left her she was seemingly fine.  She was a tough as nails Irish grandmother, who was not big on hugs and such.  That particular last day I saw her was on her birthday, which is always one day after my birthday.  I did something I never did before, I kissed her on the forehead.  She started to give me a “what the hell” look, but then she smiled.

Less than 48-hours later, I was 420 miles away, deep asleep and she showed up in my dream and told me “goodbye.”  The phone rang a moment later around five in the morning and my wife awoke and ran to answer it in another room.  When she returned, I told her my grandmother died, and with an understandably surprised look, she asked me how I knew.

I don’t know how I knew.

I have lost loved ones before and after, but it was the only time anything like that ever happened.

I can’t explain any of it, but I love that somehow, my grandmother was able to say her farewell.  Celtic spiritual connection or something even bigger?

I didn’t always believe in ghosts, but something is going on…