As we head into the heart of the haunting season, I have a confession to make. As if my life weren’t colorful enough, I live in a haunted house.
I know you’re jealous.
Our house is 106 years old. Everyone knows that any building more than 100 years old is required, by after-life law, to be haunted. Ghosts may, in fact, be all that prop some old buildings up.
Like many old homes, ours belonged to one family for nigh on forever. Hence our home is known, to this day, as the “Old Lewis Orchard” despite the last Lewis having left this earthly plane some three decades ago.
I wondered, when our home might become “The Old Seabolt Place?”
“After we’re dead” said Mr. Wonderful, which greatly dampened my enthusiasm for adapting the phrase. As often happens when you purchase a historic property, we seem to have inherited the lives — and memory — of the former inhabitants too.
The former occupant of our home, we are told, ran a successful orchard for decades. She was a beloved tee-totaling Sunday school teacher. She adored children.
Shortly after moving in, we made the acquaintance of a former tenant of our home. This nice man regaled us with tales of the strange goings on whenever he attempted to hold card parties.
Now, I’m not sure what you think when you hear the term “card party” but I am fairly confident that what he was describing was not my grandma’s bridge game. Our party-hearty friend told of cards cast askew, liquor bottles emptied and lights that flickered on and off.
Mr. Wonderful and I rolled our eyes and wondered if the “hauntings” started before or after the occupants had finished off all that alcohol? He did add that as a boring married couple with a baby on the way, we probably wouldn’t have any problems. I wasn’t quite sure whether to be comforted, or offended.
We chose to shrug it off and figured that if his story was to be believed, a haunting by a Sunday school teacher who loves kids and hates gambling is probably a pretty good problem to have.
Thus, I passed off his stories as the ramblings of the often-inebriated, and went on with settling in to our new-old house.
We had no strange happenings, rattlings or noises and the only thing that went “bump in the night’ was me, running from the bats.
Granted, a friend’s toddler once carried on an animated and apparently delightful conversation with the empty corner of our dining room.
Upon questioning she indicated that she was talking to “that man right there” in a tone that suggested that we were crazy for not seeing him too. Sure kid. Whatever. For the record, the child was definitely not drunk.
Our dog also routinely growled at that corner of the dining room but that, too, we ignored. Perhaps he was being haunted by the ghosts of former mice?
Soon, we brought home our firstborn and settled in to sleep deprivation and working ever more feverishly to keep the house from falling on the baby. At this point the only bumps in the night were two exhausted parents feeling their way to the crib in the wee hours.
One morning I awoke to find our sleeping newborn neatly covered with a blanket laid smooth and square over his tiny body. I, like any new mother completely suspicious of anything that might smother my baby in his sleep, freaked right out and gave Mr. Wonderful a dressing down about blankets and babies.
Mr. Wonderful, wisely, responded that he wasn’t an idiot, had indeed paid attention in Birthing and Babies 101, and wouldn’t have done something so risky on a dare. The baby himself had all the motor skills of a loaf of bread at that point so he certainly didn’t cover himself.
This was one of those small things that become a big thing simply by being so inexplicable. I ruminated on it for days and, being me, told virtually everyone about it. It was pointed out that if we were indeed being haunted by a sweet old lady from the past then a blanket on a baby would have made perfect sense in her time. Oh. Cue the spooky music.
As with most things, I choose to find the humor in the situation. While most mothers have only to fend off the little old ladies in this realm who fret over the cold and advise them to put a hat or blanket on their baby, I have to contend with parenting tips from beyond the grave too?
As it turns out, I’m not all that bothered by ghosts and ghouls but things that nag in the night? That’s scary!