Staying – When the Hereafter is Here on Earth
In this third chapter, I continue the theme of living peacefully with watchful spirits.
Chapter Three – Emma’s House
The commitment to a place after death isn’t restricted to sacred grounds. Sometimes the connection is more personal. These are cases where we typically see a more “traditional” haunted environment. Haunted houses, churches, even barns are occasionally still occupied by long-dead former occupants. And often times, when these tenants are still around it’s not because the endured some devastating trauma, but because they enjoyed the place where they lived or worked.
At another work assignment, my office was in an old, converted farm house. If you’re getting the idea that many of my offices have been occupied by unseen friends, you’d be correct. Many public properties, specifically historical locations that have been entrusted to a municipality after the owner’s death and then pressed into service, have a long history and many previous occupants. This is true of the farm house and also my office.
Almost from my first day at the farm, I had been inundated with tales about how old Emma was still keeping an eye on her beloved farmlands and childhood home. When Emma was alive, having no heir to whom to leave the farm, she deeded it the City to turn into a teaching farm and park. For the most part, the City accommodated her requests. On the rare occasion some misguided public servant attempted to host, say, a carnival on the old farm’s grounds, the event was met with nothing but calamity and misfortune. Or so the rumors say.
But I was new on the farm, and just trying to fit in, so I listened to all manner of urban legend. After a few weeks, I had heard just about every fable associated with the property. This included the stories the neighborhood kids told about zombies in the basement (which we occasionally reinforced just for fun). I was prepared to write it all off. But one night after locking up the park, my partner, Wes, and I were preparing to leave for the night. I had gone up to the attic, where the staff lockers were housed, to doff my gear and change to go home. When I had changed, I turned off the lights, shut the attic door and set the security before deadbolting the front door. Now, I remember this sequence of events because, like I said, I was new. I didn’t want to disrupt the social structure of this close-knit work group through a seeming act of carelessness. I was halfway to my car when I realized I had left my cell phone in my locker. Cursing my forgetfulness, I ran back, unlocked the door and disarmed the security system. I had gotten two steps up the staircase when my gaze shifted to my intended destination, the attic door at the top of the landing. At this point, I froze. The attic door was open, and the light was on.
At this stage in my psychic development, I hadn’t opened up fully, so I regarded the paranormal with a certain amount of fear. So the sight of that door stopped me in my tracks. I had no rational, logical or scientific explanation as to why the attic door was open or the light was on, except for maybe the cat. And he was outside. Also, he can’t reach the light switch, let alone actually need it. At that moment I had never not wanted my cell phone more. But since I was meeting friends later, and needed it, I took a deep breath and ran up the stairs. I grabbed my phone and secured the building in record time. I was frazzled by the time I reached the parking lot, where Wes was waiting for me. I attempted to relay my experience to Wes as he attempted to not roll his eyes.
As the years went on, I heard more tales of Emma’s ghost. Some of these were fabrications of over-active imaginations, but there were some that were very hard to dismiss. One morning I arrived at the park to discover that my maintenance staff looked like a herd of spooked cattle. Reticently, they described the events of the morning. Apparently, during their morning routine, they entered the farmhouse and walked upstairs to retrieve their gear. As soon as they were upstairs, all of the doors on the ground floor began to open and slam shut simultaneously. At 6 a.m., the two of them were the only ones in the house, not to mention the park. There remains no logical explanation to the events of that morning.
Now, do I think that Emma’s ghost is malevolent – no. I just think that she was trying to get our attention. Like the Shaman in the last chapter, she wanted to make sure that her space was preserved and that we knew she was still around to oversee the daily goings-on. Living with Emma’s ghost was an easy and entertaining experience, far from the provocative melodrama that we encounter on television. And that is the take-away message from this chapter. Having a spirit living in your office, house, attic or barn doesn’t need to provoke fear and uncertainty. It can be a pleasant experience, especially if you have the same agenda.