The first house my wife and I lived in was a modest brick bungalow with a large yard, a finished attic and a kennel out back. Built in the mid 1950’s it wasn't a terribly old house and it certainly was not the type one would expect to find anything of the paranormal sort in. The last thing on our mind was ghosts. But shortly after we moved in we began to notice strange things happening.
One of the more frequent occurrences centered around our very young Labrador Retriever, Ben.
Ben would be asleep on the floor in the living room with us and suddenly he'd awaken, raise his head and growl in the direction of the hallway leading to the bedrooms. Slowly his head would turn as he appeared to be watching something move from the hallway to the attic door. Once his attention got to the attic he'd stop growling, get up and scramble over to the door and sniff around the sill. This happened often.
One evening, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed. Ben was with me. He wasn't house trained yet so we kept a close eye on him. I was just about to finish up when Ben trotted out the door, heading for the living room. I called him, but he didn't return. I whistled for him. It was a simple two notes, but as soon as I'd finished I heard the same two notes come back to me, slightly louder and clearer than my call. I thought it was my wife who was already in bed and asked her not to call the dog since I needed to take him outside one last time. When I went into the bedroom to see if Ben had come to her I found her sound asleep and heard the back door suddenly slam shut. I was sure I hadn't left the back door open and went to investigate. When I got there, Ben was outside sitting on the back step. The door was closed and locked. I didn't mention this to my wife. I never heard the whistle again, but found Ben on the back steps with the door closed and locked several more times in the following weeks.
These were the most telling signs that we weren't alone, but for me there was often a sense that someone was there with us. I wouldn't call it an evil presence, but it felt angry, bitter and spiteful. I've never felt that before or since.
Some six weeks after we moved in, Dr. Longoria, our landlord called. He said he'd like to meet with us, that he had a request. We had never met Dr. Longoria before and figured he wanted to discuss the care of his house and invited him to meet with us the following weekend. He arrived with his wife and as we sat down he began to tell us the story of how he had acquired the house.
The original owner was a woman named Betty. Betty had grown up in a small town in the American Midwest back in the 30’s. As a young woman she'd become pregnant. Ashamed and ostracized by her family, she left her hometown and moved to northern Virginia getting a job with the government. Betty gave birth to twins and immediately put them up for adoption.
For the rest of her life she lived in this house and worked at her job. Her only outside interest, it seemed, was her white German Shepherds. She bred champions apparently, which explained the kennel, and this is how she had met Dr. Longoria, the veterinarian.
One day Betty called Dr. Longoria and asked a favor of him. It seems she had cancer and was going to die. The medical costs were too high for her to handle and pay for the house. If he would take on the mortgage, she would give the house to him upon her death. Dr. Longoria agreed. In time, Betty went into a hospice and eventually died there. Dr. Longoria has been renting the house ever since. The story explained a lot.
The woman, slowly dying alone, without family or friends and the fixation on the dog. But this story was just background information.
After Betty’s death, adoption laws allowed the twins to find their birth mother. They learned that Betty had given her body to the medical college at George Washington University and that her remains had been cremated. The ashes were available and the now grown children wanted to visit their mother’s house and scatter the ashes around the property. I had visions of vacuuming Betty up and wasn't comfortable with that idea but we were assured that the ashes would be scattered outside. My wife and I agreed and the following Saturday went out to my parent’s farm to give Betty’s family some privacy. When we returned later that evening, we found a tree had been planted near the house. Betty’s ashes lay beneath. There was a different feel to the house. The ‘presence’ was no longer there and Ben never followed unseen strangers to the attic.
It seems that having seen her children, Betty was at rest. Within days, however, Ben, now several months old, destroyed the tree.