In my previous blog posts, I’ve shared events that occurred in a haunted house I lived in during my childhood.  It was my experiences in that house that inspired me to learn all I could about the supernatural and other phenomena.  Since I started writing stories around the age of eight, it was only natural that they included the things I was learning about and experiencing first hand.  Writers typically write what they know or what interests them.  What interests me are ghosts, spirit communication, the afterlife, reincarnation and all manner of things typically lumped under the title of “New Age“.  Although, if you think about it…New Age doesn’t seem an apt category name for most of the subjects filed under it.  Those ideas and concepts and practices have actually been around for hundreds of years.  There’s nothing “new” about them, but whatever.  We must pick our battles carefully and this one I’m going to leave alone.  For now.

My previous posts were the scarier events that happened.  This one is more of a bafflement … a curious occurrence that amazes me to this day.

Once we (my family and I) concluded that our house was haunted, we started looking at everything that happened there with new eyes.  No longer were we shrugging things off and thinking “how strange”.  And once my dad (the most stubborn and unbelieving of all) began to accept the idea, then things became a little more peaceful between us.  As I was the oldest child, I was often the last one to turn in for the night and so was blamed for the fact that my dad would get up in the morning and find the outside doors open and all the lights on.  I got the same old lecture every time, “Were you born in a barn? No.  So why are you leaving the doors open and the lights on?  You want to pay the heating and electric bills?”

I tell you, the day my dad sat me down and apologized for all the times he accused me of leaving doors open and lights on, well, that was a great day indeed!  The weeks that led up to that momentous day were filled with tension for the two of us because those two things were becoming a regular occurrence.  He accused, I denied and we both got angrier and angrier at each other!  Truly, it was putting quite a strain on our relationship.  But then one glorious morning, my dad found all the doors open and all the lights on and HE was the last to go to bed (I was being punished at this point and no longer allowed to stay up later than anyone else).  It also happened a couple times when I wasn’t home but staying elsewhere (I spent a lot of nights with my grandparents).  Finally he believed me and apologized for not doing so in the first place.  Thank God.

Now, just because my dad accepted that it wasn’t me opening doors and turning on lights, it did not mean my dad accepted the idea that ghosts could be doing those things.  His explanation?  Well, we had a “crazy old house” with serious wiring and “settling” issues.  Settling issues?  That might cause a strange sound now and then but opening doors?

It wasn’t just lights and doors that we had issues with.  We also had the problem of items coming up missing.  Now, we all forget where we put things on occasion and I would venture to say that more often than not, the item is usually found after a furious and annoying search.  But, many things that went missing at that spooky old farmhouse were never found.  One of those items being the first book I ever wrote!  Granted, I was only about twelve when I wrote it and it was probably not destined for greatness, but I was pretty proud of it.  Tools, pictures, toys, spices, books … these are just some of the items that simply vanished into the vortex of the unknown.

One vanishing act in particular really stood out and I must tell the story now. It’s one of my favorite mysteries attached to that house and usually one of the first I like to tell when people say, “You lived in a haunted house? Tell me some stories!”.

My parents went on a week long vacation to Florida one winter and the five of us kids were doled out among friends and family.  The person I went to stay with, Beth, owned several cats so she wouldn’t let me bring my pet parakeet with me.  I was very upset about leaving the poor bird in that cold, scary old house but my parents assured me it would be fine.  My grandfather promised to stop by the house to check on him so I had to be content with that.  A couple days go by and I get a phone call from my grandfather.  He says my bird is gone, cage and all.  I figured he just wasn’t looking in the right place so Beth and I head over there to check it out.  Not only was the cage gone but also the stand that it hung from.  We searched the entire house and that bird was not to be found.  Beth and my grandfather assured me that my parents must have found someone to take it.  My gut feeling was telling me otherwise but I hoped they were right.

The week passes and my parents return.  When my mom calls Beth to let her know she can bring me home, Beth asks her what she did with my bird.  My mother’s reply?  “I didn’t do anything with the bird.  Why?”  Beth tells her that it’s missing and my mom says, “It’s not missing.  I’m looking at it right now. It’s right where we always keep it.”  Beth informs her that it hasn’t been in the house all week and my mom doesn’t believe her.  Baffled by this turn of events, Beth and I head over to the house.  My bird is there in the corner of the living room, sitting in a nice clean cage.  There are no seeds on the floor around it (he was very messy).  His water dish is full and clean (he often dirtied it with seeds and feathers), his food dish is full.  Beth looks at my mother.  “You brought him home from somewhere.”  My mom denies the accusation and insists that he was there when they got home.  She also denies cleaning his cage and filling his dishes.  I call my grandfather.  He is our witness and Mom won’t lie to him.  When my grandfather arrived, we all got into a bit of an argument as we (Beth, my grandfather and I) were so sure that my parents were messing with us.  My parents were equally sure that we were messing with them.  It took some convincing on all sides but we finally accepted that we were all telling the truth.  It’s a baffling mystery to this day.

I have to add a quick note here on the eventual fate of that parakeet.  It was a few months after that incident that I started having dreams about events that would then happen exactly as I dreamed them the following day.  One night I dreamed that my bird flew over my head and out the door and so the following day, I left him alone.  I was determined that that dream would not come true.  As the day wore on and my bird remained safe in his cage, I figured it was okay to play with him as long as I was careful.  I was trying to get him to trust me enough to sit on my finger and after I finally managed to do this, I put him back on his perch and closed the door.  Just as I reached the front door, I felt something flutter above my head and I looked up.  My parakeet flew out the door and out of my life.

The parakeet’s disappearing act is quite a remarkable and curious story.  Not scary at all.  Looking back on it, I now realize that most of the things that happened in that house were more of a nuisance than anything.  What made it all so scary was the idea that dead people were causing them.  And towards the end of our time there, they got more and more active.