Although I have always been a true fan of scary movies and ghost stories, it was more for the thrill of scaring myself than for a belief in the supernatural. But 10 years ago, I bought a house in a small town in rural Kansas that changed my view about ghosts. There are just some things that can't be explained away. And as I am getting ready to sell my home and move thousands of miles away, I thought this would be a good time to tell my story.
I moved into the small one story house with my son when he was just 8 months old. I was going through a pretty rough divorce at the time, and was glad to find a home that I could afford to purchase on payments. It wasn't anything special, and most definitely needed some tender loving Care to be a place I could call "home'' and be proud of it.
For one thing, the house had spiders the size of house cats. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. They were BIG, and I didn't much like them hopping out of every cranny and corner every time I went to dust or paint a wall. But finally, after a couple months of scrubbing, painting, buying used furniture and being very frustrated....the house actually looked quite cute and it really had a happy feeling about it.
We never felt threatened in our little cottage, but almost immediately upon moving in, strange things happened. My car keys would disappear, and I would spend an hour looking all over the house for them. They would always turn up as soon as I threw up my hands and muttered something about giving up and I didn't want to go anywhere anyway. Poof -- there would be the keys right in plain sight, and always someplace that I had searched thoroughly. Once, after tearing up the entire house looking for my keys, I looked up to find them on the peg board where they belonged. By this time, it was becoming sort of a joke with my family that when things disappeared in my house that they would show up when the ghost was done playing with them. Even my parents had their keys and other small items disappear, only to reappear in strange places, including the refrigerator. And at the time, my son being only 8 months old, it was not a childish prank....well, not one done by a flesh and blood child anyway.
But as time went on, the pranks started to take on a protective tone. Once during a really heavy storm, I was in the back of the house checking to see if the roof was leaking, and I thought I heard someone call my name from the front room. Thinking a friend had stopped to take some shelter until the storm passed over, I walked through the livingroom and found...no one. Just as I realized there was nobody there, the tree in the backyard was struck by lightning and came through the ceiling of the room I had been standing in. If I had still been standing where I was moments before, I would have been severely injured, if not killed.
When my son got older and could talk, he started saying things like "Look at the gray man, mommy'' or "I saw the gray man again today mommy.'' I was always so busy, I would just say "yes dear...'' and brush it off as an imaginary friend like most children have at some point.
One day, I had put my son to sleep in his bed and the only light on in the house was the nightlight in his room. It partially illuminated the hallway to my bedroom and I walked through the house in the dark, thinking about what book I wanted to read before I went to sleep. As I came to the door of my room, I stopped cold. It was a feeling like you get when you are walking along and not paying attention and look up just in time to stop from banging into someone walking the other direction. I stopped short, took a half step backwards and for a few seconds, I could see him. If I close my eyes, I can still see the man that stood there in front of me....grey suit, a bowler type hat on his head, gold fob watch showing. His hands were held behind his back, like he was rocking back on his heels and taking me in, just like I was taking him in. What really strikes me to this day though is his face. He was smiling at me. Just a very pleasant looking fellow, with one of those bushy moustaches popular in days gone by. And just as he slightly bowed his head, he disappeared. Just like he had never been there. Let me tell you, I have never flipped on a light switch so fast in my life. I wasn't exactly scared, just totally taken by surprise. I sat on the edge of my bed asking myself if I was really sure that I had seen what I thought I saw. And after a few minutes of calling myself nuts and overly tired, overworked and stressed, it dawned on me, that if I was going to see a person who wasn't there, it wouldn't be someone who looked like a member of a barbershop quartet, and I wouldn't have seen details like his fob watch. And then I had to laugh because when I first came around the corner and stopped short before walking right through him, my first inclination had been to say "excuse me.'' I knew at that point that I had seen our trickster.
After that, the little tricks happened less often, but still on occasion I would have to look at the ceiling and say "ok where are my keys???'' or "I would appreciate having my other shoe back please...''
And unlike other tales of hauntings and ghosts, there was never anything to be afraid of in this case. It was more like we had a spirit looking over us, making sure that a woman living by herself with a young boy came to no harm. The practical jokes were never anything to hurt anyone, and at times, it would intervene to help us. And a few times, silly as it may sound, it would let our dog outside to potty. Seriously. We would leave the dog indoors while we went somewhere for a few hours, and when we came home the dog would be outside. Nobody else has a key to our house but me. There were no open windows and no way for the dog to get outside, unless she was let out by someone inside the house. And, perhaps, an argument could be made that on a few of the occasions the dog actually snuck outside before I locked the door....but on 3 occasions I know for sure that she was asleep on my bed when we left. Sometimes I really wish animals could talk! Then I would know if it was "the grey man'' who let her outside.
When I got engaged a few months ago, I knew that the little house would have to be put on the market to be sold. And I actually felt a little sad about having to part with the gray man. The house is empty now, as I have sold all the furniture and just have some painting to do before we put the place up for sale. I was just there yesterday for a little while to pack up the last of the boxes. I stood in the livingroom for a few moments and just smiled. All those years of living on my own, I have always felt safe in my house, despite having some pretty seedy people for neighbors, and some near escapes with household accidents. I just had to look around the house and have a private moment with the gray man. I smiled and said "Thank you.'' I'm sure he was listening, because just as the words left my mouth, the 2 lightbulbs in the kitchen light blew out.
Always the prankster. And I will miss him.....