Monday, October 20, 2014

A True Chicago Haunting – It's Halloween Every Day in a Haunted House – Buyer Beware

Previously published on Yahoo! Contributor Network
In 1985, long before the advent of cell phones, I returned home from work one night to discover that my (then) husband had kicked my fifteen-year-old daughter (oldest of four) out of the house for arguing with him about spending the night with a friend. The irony was that after finding nowhere to go, Keeley moved in with that friend's family the same night, a move that would prove to be immediately and truly supernatural.

After hearing about the argument, I allowed my daughter to live in their home, mostly because I didn't want to subject my daughter to a stepfather who so obviously abhorred her, but also because I was pursuing a divorce anyway.

Because the mom was a single parent with five children, I decided to award her some child support and I visited often. Before the argument, I had never met the family, but my daughter knew I would have allowed an overnight stay because I had often heard her speak fondly about them, and I would have met them when I picked her up.

Clare and I soon became very good friends. She and her children lived in a giant house in the Beverly area of Chicago and Clare had many teenage overnight visitors. To her, one additional child was merely a "what's one more?" minor inconvenience. To me, however, it was a big deal.

But rather than have my teenage daughter move back in with a man who so clearly disdained her, since I was already hatching my escape plan, I made it a point to get to know Clare. She truly enjoyed Keeley's company and convinced me that she would rather have my daughter live with her than with an unloving stepfather.

Upon first entering her home, however, my first thought was that it felt a little "creepy." I dismissed my thoughts and feelings while we drank herbal tea and talked at her dining room table. She put me at ease and then asked me if I wanted to see the rest of the house.

With trepidation, I followed her around like a frightened child. In the basement, my skin felt clammy and clenched tightly around my bones. My heart pounded so wildly in my chest, I felt as if I was facing my own death. I felt so uncomfortable underground, in fact, that I thought I was going to pass out. I must have looked like a Freddy Kruger victim entering a cellar in one of the Nightmare On Elm Street videos.

The second floor was no better, however, because as soon as I got to the top of the stairs I felt like running down them and out of the house as fast as I could. Never before had I been in a house that felt so scary, and never since. As somebody who has always been interested in paranormal activity, I have always believed in the possibility of ghosts, and have even had experiences with a couple of them (read Spirits of Ghosts - True Ghost Stories to find out about my true ghost experiences).

Because of my interest in all things metaphysical and paranormal, and because my daughter was in a rebellious phase, she believed in just the opposite of everything I believed - according to Keeley, ghosts did not exist, and everything "paranormal" was explainable. Mom was just plain weird, had a vivid imagination, or both.

The movie Ghost Busters had been released just the year before, and while Keeley looked upon paranormal activity as "stupid," her stay with Clare and Clare's children would challenge her beliefs and change them forever.

On her way up the stairs to sleep in the room the family had assigned to her on her first night in their house, everybody asked if she would be OK up there all by herself. In her usual nonchalant style, my daughter said, "Yeah, if he bothers me, I'll just call Ghost Busters."

All of them immediately became concerned and admonished her, "You shouldn't have said that. He's not going to like that you said that." She shrugged, brushed them off, and went upstairs.

Clare and her children experienced several incidents with the not-too-friendly ghost. One day, for example, as they all watched television, they saw a bicycle roll across the huge expanse of their hardwood living room floor, its pedals rotating as if somebody was riding it. Not wanting to admit to seeing what so clearly had to have been a hallucination, everybody ignored the phenomenon and nobody discussed the experience until much later when they compared notes and discovered that yes, they had all witnessed the same event.

On her first night at the house, after climbing the stairs to the second floor, Keeley sat down on the bed. The moment she lifted her feet from the floor, she watched the table next to her rise off the floor and hover for several seconds. Instant fear engulfed her, and she tried to scream, but her voice choked silent in her throat.

It was to be one of many such experiences that forever changed Keeley's view on paranormal activity.

Everybody, it seemed, learned to live with the ghost, but I remained terrified of it. Not long after Keeley moved in (the move was only temporary), the family sold the house and moved on. The night before the move, I dreamed I was helping Clare move. As would be my feeling in reality, I rushed to grab boxes and race out of the house. In this dream, however, as I grabbed a box and ran behind Clare, the doors slammed shut after Clare exited the house - I couldn't get out. So on my last day at the house, as Clare was moving boxes, I made sure I was the first one out of the house.

I later asked Clare if she had any qualms about leaving the house to people who knew nothing about the ghost, and she told me that nobody had mentioned any paranormal activity to her when she moved in - if the new owners had had any apprehension about purchasing a haunted house, they shouldn't have bought it in the first place. And besides, the ghost never actually hurt anybody.

Only one word entered my mind when she said that - YET! But maybe I've seen too many programs that deal with paranormal activity and ghosts.

Clare and I remain very close friends. I still wonder from time to time about the current owner(s) of the house, and possible subsequent owners after that. Were any of the homeowners aware of a presence in the home? If they weren't sensitive to things outside the bounds of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell, would it be possible to live with a real ghost and not know about it?

I never saw any scary spirits or ghostly apparitions in that house, and ghost hunters, if they were around back then, were unknown to me. I know with certainty, though, that I would never knowingly purchase a house I thought was haunted. To me, living in a haunted house would be like celebrating a fright-filled Halloween every single night.
But maybe a haunted Halloween-type experience is not an accurate assessment of a home that feels eerie. Maybe it's more a matter of positive and negative energy left behind by previous owners. Maybe the paranormal experiences we perceive to be in haunted toys, haunted music, or haunted houses signify our ability to feel the positive and negative effects of residual energy.

If you are thinking of buying a haunted house and if you are curious about how you might react to living in a supernatural environment - or even if you think you might be sensitive to positive and negative energy in a home you are considering purchasing - check out Cathy Montville's Buying a House? Research State Law or Live with that Ghost article before you buy.

Happy House Haunting - I mean Hunting!

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