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That Very First Ghost

Since it’s October, and Halloween season, I thought I’d do a ghostly series.

I’ve won radio prizes when the topic is “Tell us your best ghost story.” People want to hear ghost stories when they find out I’m a medium. Yeah, I’ve got a bunch too, any medium does. This one though, is about my first ghost.

I grew up with her. She died in my home before my parents bought it. My relationship to the paranormal and spiritual might have been very different if not for this particular ghost.

Full credit to artist.

I used to see the old lady standing at the end of the hall.

Some of my earliest memories are of this old lady.  She had grey, curly hair and was somewhat short but neither thin nor fat. She often had a frilly apron but I rarely saw her legs. She didn’t wear glasses. I think I was around four or five when I first saw her. I would smile and she would clap her hands and wave and smile back.

When I talked about her, my family would tell me I couldn’t have seen any old lady, and there was no such thing as ghosts. I believed them.

For a while.

I did what they suggested when I saw things that “weren’t really there.” I closed my eyes and chanted silently that it was just my imagination.

It worked. I didn’t see her and I forgot, mostly. I still sensed “something” at the end of the hall, but…it was “just my imagination.”

Movies and books of the 70’s, combined with episodic bouts of church attendance fostered a powerful fear reaction to anything hinting of the supernatural. I was sure it was real, and sure scared of it when I was just a young kid.

Then that whole “just your imagination”-thing, stopped working.

That little old lady was back.  And yeah, it freaked me out.  There was no way to avoid her, I had to walk right past her in that part of the hall. 

When she went from standing in the hall to jumping out at me, intentionally trying to scare – let’s just say, it worked.

Then, she would chase me.

Really! Like it was a game to her.

I could still see her; it didn’t matter that I been told over and over ghosts didn’t exist. Adult promises were hollow and false when she was so plainly there and it was scary to that little girl I was. Fine hairs on the back of my neck would tingle and rise. Often, she would just touch me on my back as I raced that looong hallway, causing a chill to tickle down my spine.

Not gonna lie, this went on for years.

It might not have been bearable, except for two very important points.

  • She wasn’t really trying to hurt me. She wasn’t bad in life, and she was just stuck in death. She was bored and lonely, and when I started ignoring her, she figured out a way to make me see her again. Scaring wasn’t her first choice, but it was what worked. She was amusing herself by scaring me, but never had truly ill intent.
  • She never went into the room addition. Somewhere along the years, my parents had a room added to the original home. The old lady never went there. I always felt “safe” there, and like I’d won our little race down from the upstairs hall.

When I was older, and we were on speaking terms I asked her why she always stopped chasing me at that dividing line. Face wrinkled with puzzlement, she asked, “What room? That’s the backyard. I never wanted to scare you out of the house. What if it was raining?” 

She couldn’t see it, because it hadn’t been part of the house when she lived in it.

Full credit to artist.

I think I was somewhere around thirteen when I got tired of being chased. It just seemed silly to be afraid of someone who always “lost” our little “race.” I also realized she was making goofy, funny faces and waving her arms wildly as she sped after me.

Pausing at the bottom of the stairs, I looked back. She was doubled over, clutching her stomach and laughing hysterically. Didn’t see I’d stopped running.

I could tell that she was truly tickled she could still make me jump and run.

It was a turning point.

The next time in that hall, I didn’t run.  She was there. Every hair on my body electrified, and a palpable wave of fear washed over me. Those tiny hairs rippled.

But I stood my ground.

“You haven’t caught me this whole time. I am not scared of you.  I am not going to run.” 

I was firm. I might have been shaking inside, but I faced her. Then I turned. And walked.

It took forever to get to the top of the stairs, but I forced my teenybopper self to slowly plant one foot in front of the other as she paced behind the whole way. It seemed I was looking at two of her.

On the outside she was projecting scary, fearful emotions, but in a carnival “Boo”-sort of manner.  Peering more closely, I could see energetically, inside, she was laughing.

She knew I wanted to jump and run. She even poked at me energetically, but to her it was just a big joke.

A joke.

She was suddenly not scary at all. We even became friendly, and would talk sometimes.

“I just wanted someone to acknowledge me. Everyone thinks I’m dead and I’m not. I’m stuck here. At least you could see me, even when you pretended not to. Scaring you was the only way I could get your attention.”

She didn’t even try to hold in her chuckles.

“You really did look quite funny scampering down the hall.  The look on your face was priceless!”

She had died in the house, she told me. Which my family later confirmed, when I was older. She didn’t mind being there, but she hadn’t expected the afterlife to be so very dull.

She never did tell me her name.

My family offered sufficient distraction. She was glad “such a nice family” had moved into her home. She often expressed fondness for, and a desire to watch out for us. Indeed, during the time the old lady “lived” with us, nothing truly tragic ever happened to my family or the house, no break-ins, no fires, no serious accidents.

She would knock on doors or walls to let me know she was nearby. Occasionally move things just to remind me she was still around.

Interestingly, much later in adult life, my family confessed to experiencing strangeness in that upper hallway.

Funny how our early experiences often get validated much later.




Have you had ghostly encounters? Do you live in a haunted locale?

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Happy Halloween!


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