When people find out that I live in a haunted house, the first thing they usually want to know is, “How can you live in a haunted house? Aren’t you scared?”
“Sometimes,” I say. “But moving is too much work … ”
It’s true that there have been plenty of times when I have been very scared by the spirits in my house. But it’s also true that I love my magical old house. I’ve been living in my house for ten years and I never know what’s going to happen next, ghost-wise. Every day holds the possibility of a small (or not so small) adventure. At times, it seems as if my house or the house spirits are responsive to me. This spring, I had a small bonfire in my back yard, which I had been afraid to try by myself because I was worried about the fire getting out of control. A few days after my bonfire, a severe thunderstorm blew through town. When I went outside the next morning, there was a muddy, soggy sheet of paper plastered to my porch wall, blown in by the storm. I have learned to pay attention to what the wind brings, so I looked at the paper to see what it had to say. It was a fact sheet filled with helpful hints and I laughed out loud when I saw the headline — Campfire Safety.
I was lucky enough to have been raised in a family where intuition, dreams and the unknown were acknowledged and valued. At the breakfast table, my brothers and sisters and I would tell each other what we had dreamt the night before. My mom, busy as she was raising eight children, would listen to our dreams and tell us her dreams too. I was seven years old when I had my first experience of dreaming about something before it happened. I dreamt that my teacher asked me to hand out math papers to my classmates. My teacher had never asked a student to help with this important task before, but the next day she asked me to. I felt proud and self-conscious as I walked up and down the rows of desks, handing out papers just like a teacher.
My life has been pretty much like everyone else’s in a lot of ways — I had a happy childhood, went to college, was married, raised children, work, pay taxes. But from the time I was a child, I have experienced extraordinary moments too — almost everyone in my family has. There were family stories, especially from the Irish relatives, of mystical events and weird happenings — I grew up hearing about banshees and death knocks, water witching and fairies. When I was very young, I used to see yellow eyes watching me at night. The eyes were slightly slanted and looked like animal eyes. I could see them clearly whether my own eyes were open or closed. And at age ten, while out playing in the fields and woods behind our house, I came across an old white farmhouse with peeling paint and broken windows that had never been there before. I ran home and called my girlfriend Deana to come explore it with me, but when we went back, it wasn’t there.
I was raised Catholic, and at home, church and school, was immersed in a world of angels, spirits, saints and miracles. In the bedroom I shared with my sisters, there was a picture of a guardian angel watching a child sleep, a Holy Family holy water dispenser by the door and a guardian angel light switch plate. Every week at church, we prayed for the souls of the dead. At the parochial school I attended, I learned from the older kids that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to poor schoolchildren at Fatima and told them a secret about when the world was going to end. As a child, I didn’t know there even was such a thing as people who didn’t believe in ghosts. The spirit world has been part of my entire life. When you live a haunted life, living in a haunted house just seems to come with the territory.