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The Chair, The Ring and The Old Woman

April 2004

When I was growing up, my two younger sisters, one younger brother and myself spent every summer at our cottage by the lake. My parents encouraged us to invite our friends all summer long so at least one of us always had a guest or two continuously. However, the cottage was small, only two bedrooms, one bathroom and a main room that was both a living room and a kitchen, so my father built a large wooden platform and erected a large tent on top of it very close to the main cottage so that my parents could keep an eye on us.

He installed bunk bed cots with sleeping bags on them so that the tent could sleep eight at once. He ran an extension cord and put in a television, rugs, a couple of chairs including one rocking chair and a big basket of comic books. Needless to say, we were in heaven.

Since the tent only served as a place to sleep and hang out, every morning we would all pile in and have breakfast in the main cottage. It was on one of these mornings that I remember noticing my youngest sister, Mary, was looking pale and not well rested as she had dark circles under her eyes.

The first couple of successive mornings I never said anything, but finally my mother did, asking Mary if she was sick because she had become so quiet and pale.
That's when Mary began telling everyone that she thought someone was coming into the tent in the middle of the night. My mother insisted that this was not possible since the door to the tent faced her bedroom window and it had a large zipper that made a loud and distinct sound every time anyone zipped it up or down. My mother also insisted that being a mother, she was very attuned to the sound and knew every time it was unzipped when any child went to the bathroom in the night. She told Mary that she was quite certain that no one had come into the tent but wanted to know why Mary thought someone had.

That's when my sister said she had awoken a few nights prior to the sound of someone rocking in the one rocking chair we had in the tent, close to the door. Mary said she could hear the sound of the chair as it creaked against the wooden platform the tent was erected on. Where Mary slept, she could peek out of her sleeping bag and see the rest of us snoozing on our cots and could see we were all there sleeping soundly so knew it had to be a stranger. She said she was too frightened to look at the chair, and anyway she told us, to see the chair, she would have to stick her head out of the bag to look down towards the door and she couldn't bring herself to do it. My mother insisted that it was a bad dream but Mary insisted that if it was then she was having it night after night for the past week.

Then Mary said, "The worst part of it is whoever is in that chair must be wearing a ring or something because I can hear it as they tap it against the arm of the chair." That's when my mother went pale and we all noticed it at once. She grabbed a chair and sat down, clearly visibly shaken. We asked her what was wrong and she told us that she hadn't thought about this for years, but when she was a small child, around five years old or so, she began waking up to the sound of the rocking chair in her room. When she looked at the rocking chair she said she saw an old transparent woman, dressed in very old fashioned looking clothing, rocking back and forth and staring at my mother with vacant eyes. The weird part, my mother told us, was that she would tap her hand against the arm of the chair and the ring on her finger made a loud tapping sound. My mother said this went on all night long and when she told her parents they didn't believe her and thought she was bad dreams. Finally, my mother said that after awhile she had become so hysterical that her parents took the rocking chair out of the room to appease her. After that, my mother said she never saw the old woman again and as my mother finished her story, we all looked at my sister Mary. Yikes!

After that morning, my mother made my father take the rocking chair out of the tent and Mary said she never heard it again.

Since Mary never did look we never did know who was sitting in that chair rocking and tapping away all night. Was it the same old woman coming back again and now haunting my sister? Was it some old relative who was trying to look after us? We never knew for sure, but no one in my family has rocking chairs in their bedrooms, even to this day!

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