Spirits among us

Late in the afternoon on Saturday, my phone rang.  It was my mom.

“Rick,” she said, “I think my house is haunted.”

“What?!” I replied.  What do you mean?  What’s going on?”

“I think your father is here,” she replied.

Our house is a 1960’s ranch-style house.  It’s a modest, three-bedroom home with one bath.  The kitchen adjoins to the living room and my sister’s former room, which also opens to the main hallway.  Across the hallway is the bathroom, and to the left of those doors are my old room and my parents’ room. 

Toward the end of my dad’s life, his routine consisted of his morning shower, after which he would walk into my sister’s old room room and sit on an oversized black swiveling desk chair to put on his diabetic socks and whatever clothes he would wear for the day.  The chair was positioned in front of the closet doors and never moved.  It was always ready for him to sit and get ready in the morning, and if it moved he would reposition it to be in the same spot to be ready for the next day.  Dad was like that.  He liked everything just so– nothing out of order, everything in its place.

When dad died, my mom had the chair cleaned and turned it so it faced the closet.  Since she has so much trouble with her balance, she uses the high back of the chair to help her steady herself while she walks through the room.  She never walks through the living room to get to the kitchen — she only uses the bedroom. 

For months now the chair has been positioned this way, being moved only to either clean out the closet of my dad’s old clothes or to vacuum the floor.  Other times the chair held boxes and blankets and other stuff while we got ready for our rummage sale. 

But in the last few weeks, mom started to notice something very different.

After passing through the room and spending some time in the kitchen or the bathroom, she would return to the room to find the chair turned around and positioned into the room.  Just the way my dad would position it when he was alive.

At first, she thought she had maybe bumped it while passing through the room; but the more she thought about it, she knew there was no way she could have turned it that much and positioned it that perfectly– every single time.  The more it happened, the closer attention she would pay to how she moved it, where and when.  And the more she fixed the chair for her purpose, the more often it would be turned back around again.

Saturday, however, was the last straw.

“It happened three times today,” she said on the phone.  “The third time I turned it back, I sat at the computer across from that same chair and checked my email.  When I was done I turned around, and the damned chair was turned around again.”

“How could you not hear the chair moving?” I asked her. 

“My hearing is bad, Rick,” she replied.  “I couldn’t hear it if it moved anyway.  But you can bet if I saw it move, we’d have a much bigger problem on our hands!”

I thought about all of this for a second or two, and said to my mom, “You know what?  I think Dad is just trying to let you know he’s there.  He’s turning the chair around because he wants to see you.”

“But why now?” she asked.  “It’s been almost two years, and NOW he wants to come back?  What’s that about?”

“I don’t know,” I replied, “But are you really afraid of it?” 

“No,” she said.  “If anything I’m happy he’s here.”

“Well I am too,” I said.  “Heck, at least he’s not throwing things at you!  This is pretty tame if you ask me.”

We cried a bit, and then laughed about it.  We’re both a little spooked, but at the same time we’re comforted.  Dad always joked that he’d come back to haunt us after he’d gone, but you never really know what to believe about all that stuff anyway.  There could be any number of explanations for it, but unless something worse happens, the fact that he’s still there isn’t going to scare anyone away anytime soon.

After all, as he always said, it IS his house.  He should have every right to live in it.  Right?