ghosts who live in my house

… I am not sure which.

I mentioned not long ago that the house ghosts are fiddling with the lights again. The one that leads to the basement, the lamps on either side of our bed (though they prefer mine – it’s probably an effect thing as you can’t see mine until you are all the way in the room. Our ghosts have a wicked sense of humor.)

In the last week and a half, I have heard someone call “Mom” in the night which, as any mother will tell you, can rouse one from the deepest slumber to near full battle-stations in less time than it takes to draw in a breath.

Nearly every night since the weekend, I am awakened by footsteps. Either on the stairs going up or down from the main floor or in the landing between the bedrooms.

Last week, my last alone during the day as Dee is now out of school for the summer, the basement was alive with pops and bumps and rattles throughout the morning and then again in the afternoon.

This evening marked the first physical encounter in a while.

Rob had finished folding laundry* and he was leaving the bedroom when he felt something brush along the top of his head. It was substantial enough that he ducked a little and looked up to the door frame to see if anything was hanging from it.

“I thought Dee must have hung a ribbon up there or something,” he told me.

Which is silly in retrospect because Dee is barely four feet tall. Standing on a chair – and there are no chairs upstairs – she still wouldn’t be able to reach the top of the door to hang anything from it.

This comes on the heels of Monday evening when I heard one of the bedroom doors open as I was walking out the back door to check on Rob in the garage. The doors have new knobs, close securely and make a very distinct noise when they are opened or closed. Rob and I have to be very careful when opening or closing bedroom doors when Dee is asleep because the noise is loud enough to wake her.

After I came back in, I walked upstairs to check the status of the bedroom doors. They were both closed earlier. Dee, in fact, has been pretending to lock hers with a key.

Hers was open.

Dee’s room isn’t a hotspot.  Nothing has occurred there since 2007 when something in the corner spooked her enough to call for me in the middle of the night. This was in the midst of our first “get acquainted” with the unseen inhabitants here and to say I was not amused would be playing the incident at a very low key.

I was irate and I gave my late husband a sound verbal “this is your territory buddy, so get on it” lashing.

Most of the time, spirit agitation is tied to impending death. The last rattlings occurred just before my BFF called to let me know that the 11 year old son of my late husband’s best friend, Wally, had tragically died.

But, the ghosties get hopped up by anniversaries. Wedding anniversaries past seem to provoke visitations.

I am weary of the attention and the alerts. Really. I’d rather just be surprised by death like everyone else and the Hallmark rememberances  really aren’t necessary. Really, really.

*Yes, he is a gem.

Wednesday morning I was waked by a finger poke to my side. It wasn’t painful but meant to get attention. I was startled but thought it was Dee, even though she wouldn’t come into our bedroom at such an early hour. We trained her long ago to treat our bedroom as off-limits. I had an open bedroom policy for her when she was little and it was just her and I, but once Rob and I coupled, I decided it was time to go old school like my folks. We kids weren’t allowed in their bedroom under pain of pain. I can remember standing at the door in the middle of the night, sick as a dog and still not daring to put so much as my big toe in their room without permission.

Dee knocks, a very soft rapping, or if she is unwell, she calls from her room.

I half sat up and found no one.

They’re back, I thought.

The house has been quiet and empty of spirits for a while. That feeling of being watched had disappeared after the cat incident on Rob’s birthday. But that poke in the side woke more than just me.

I didn’t mention it to Rob. It was just a poke. There was nothing behind it other than a call to attention, and I figured I would know what I was supposed to be paying attention to so enough. Ghosts, I have come to discover, are resourceful.

The next morning was 6AM Ashtanga. Yeah, I get up at five and drag my sleepy self out into the cold, drive into town and pretzelize myself with a vigorous yoga workout for an hour. Rob, sweetheart that he is, sets his alarm to wake me because my alarm is alarming and lost since May when we ripped up the hardwood in the bedrooms to prepare for new, smoothly delicious looking hardware (which is down now and gorgeous in case your mind was inquiring).

Shortly before five, I hear the soft knocking on the door that I associate with Dee. I am instantly awake and waiting for her voice, but I hear nothing. I sat up and looked toward the door, thinking that I would see light. The doors are back up but the trim isn’t and if Dee’s light is on, I can see it.

It was dark.

I laid back, thinking that the alarm should be going off soon and pondering when I heard the stairs creak. Our stairs are in needing of a good screwing down and make quite a distinctive sound when anyone comes up or goes down. This time, the creaks were descending and as Rob’s alarm went off, I found I was not in a hurry to follow.

Now I have never seen a spirit/ghost/whatever your preferred pc term is in the time I have been living here. Heard a voice. Being shoved and poked and watched, but haven’t seen anything.

“What is that overhead?” Rob asked.

I looked straight up and there was a white light twirling just about our pillows. It reminded me of  similar experience Rob had in the early morning hours last year when we were in the midst of dying fathers through the fall and end of the year. The light swirled like dust caught in a sunbeam.

“I don’t know,” I said. I didn’t tell him about the knock on the door. Mostly because I didn’t think the sign was for him at the time.

Reluctantly I crawled out of bed and headed downstairs. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d seen someone in the living room or office at that point but saw nothing but dark. I put on my yoga togs, had some tea and toast and headed into town with a bit of trepidation because the early morning traffic that races by our hamlet on the way to the plants is careless and will someday kill someone. I crawled through the intersection and drove in no great hurry to town.

The street where the yoga studio is located is deserted at just before six in the morning. The building is right next to a bar/flophouse where the clientage run mostly to people who flirt with homelessness on a monthly basis. I have been heckled and ogled and generally creeped out by the inhabitants to the point that I avoid walking directly past it, so I park right in front of the studio.

Yoga passed and I did not fall over from exhaustion but I was tired. I’d lost a lot of sleep with Dee’s being ill. She had been up in the night and I was running on not quite six hours. In days of yore, I could do 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night for weeks on end but these days my body will not stand for the abuse. It literally punishes me with all manner of threat of collapse.

After yoga, I climbed into the truck, wondering still about what I was supposed to be paying attention to. The radio was set to the XM 70’s station and the song that came up first was Cheap Trick’s I Want You to Want Me. I first heard that song the summer before high school. The next door neighbor’s had a grand-daughter visiting from California who was my age. She attached herself to me without my permission and I was forced to entertain her for the month she was there. She was vapid, willfully illiterate and thought poking sticks at the local in crowd was a fun pastime. Her only redeeming quality was a collection of the latest hits on cassette tape. She had a Cheap Trick cassette that she let me borrow and copy which is where I first heard this song. Decades later, I marry Rob and come to discover that this same song was “their song”. That love song that all couples have. The one that played when they first met or danced or kissed or had sex or simply dogged them through their first weeks/months together.

Now I am confused. Why would I get a song sign from my husband’s late wife?

Later in the morning during one of the several phone conversations Rob and I have during the day (we used to email back and forth all day when I was in Iowa and he was here – now we call each other), I told him about the poke and the knock on the door. He had no explanation, but later called me back to say that perhaps our house was s conduit for recently departed spirits. An older gentleman down the alley had died recently and maybe it was him.

Loathing that idea very much, I told Rob about the Cheap Trick song.

“Well, that shoots my theory to hell, ” he said.

Which was fine with me because I do not want to live in a conduit for the recently deceased.

That evening as he was going through his blog reader, he happened upon the posting of The Zoo for the day and what was their song video du jour? Yeah, Cheap Trick.

There has been nothing since. I don’t know if we were just getting Christmas greetings or if it was a heads up. And you might wonder why Shelley would contact me first instead of Rob but it’s not much different from Rob getting dream visits from my late husband as opposed to Will showing up in my dreams. Our passed on spouses appear to be quite comfortable with our choices in second mates.

It’s all very fitting for the season I suppose. Very Dickens. We haven’t neglected Christmas here this year but it has been rather lackadaisical and low-key in terms of preparation. I believe this is an outgrowth of our discomfort with the materialism though.

If I should discover deep meaning in the visitations and signs, however, I will let you know.

…that pat your leg or sit in the backseat just the the right of your peripheral vision or that say,

“Hi, Ann.”

There are a lot of ways to meet your husband’s first wife but her disembodied greetings on the edge of sleep is probably not the preferred way.

On the drive home from the city, Rob admitted that what had woke him was the presence sitting on the end of the bed touching his legs. This has happened before. It’s usually associated with an anniversary for him.

“Even now, I can feel someone in the backseat,” he said. “I can almost see a dark figure just on the edge of my vision.”

“What do you think it’s about? Your birthday?”

But it could have been Edee. She’d been up all night the previous night with Pandora in her arms as the little cat alternated between struggle and a death like limpness.

I didn’t tell Rob until the next morning that as I was falling asleep Saturday night, I saw Shelley in the background of my waiting dreams. It’s not as odd as it sounds. Rob had a dream once where Will had given him a hug. And I have a half remembered dream of speaking with Shelley but I don’t recall what was said.

When I told Rob what had happened his reply was,

“So, you’ve been identified by name now.”

I was quite startled when it happened, but I’m not frightened. I am not at all sure what it means. I am sure that if I were to hear a recording of Shelley’s voice, it would be the same as the voice that greeted me. I’d like to think that she approved of my handling of the cat situation and Edee. I was quite worried I’d overstepped and been too motherly. It’s hard not to mother. I am a mother. It’s not something I can switch off. After Dee was born I found that my approach to children – of all ages – in general was more maternal. It made me a better teacher and was a liability all rolled up in a neat package.

The house has been quiet since early Sunday morning. Pandora recovered though it was a very close call. I spent Monday afternoon on my own for the first time since June and all was well. I am taking that as a good sign.