I have always felt spirits. When I was a child, from the age of about three to five, I could sense things in the house where we lived. It was an ordinary ranch house in the Garden Lakes subdivision of Rome, Georgia, a seemingly harmless house, but I had an imaginary friend whom I now believe to have been a child spirit. His or her name was “Doe A Deer,” like the song from the Mary Poppins soundtrack I listened to over and over in those days. I can remember that I actually saw Doe A Deer, and that s/he was an actual child, though I don’t know if it was a boy or a girl. In fact, it seems like there was no gender, which didn’t seem odd to me at the time. I never thought about who s/he was, just accepted the fact that it was my friend. Doe A Deer was a good, friendly spirit.
There was also a bad spirit, or spirits, in the house. At night, I used to wake up terrified and not know why. I would often run across the hall from my room into my parents room. Jumping down from my tall antique iron bed, very quickly, so nothing could reach out a hand and grab me from underneath, I’d run to my door and stop, peering down the hallway to the left, into the darkness. All would be silent and still, because something was down there waiting for me. Finally I would work up the courage to navigate those three steps across the hallway to my parents’ door. This wasn’t just the after effects of a nightmare, or simple child’s fears. It was pure terror. Even now I can feel the “things” at the other end of the hall. They were real.
I also had a terrible nightmare when I lived in that house, a dream that stays with me to this day. I was outside in our yard watching my dad who had pinned my brother up on the clothesline with clothes pins. Actually, it wasn’t exactly a clothesline but some laundry-drying device we had, a kind of umbrella-shaped thing (only without the fabric of an umbrella) that would spin around so that you could hang the laundry all around it. Dad was spinning my baby brother really fast on it, like a ride at the fair. While it didn’t bother my brother, it felt sinister somehow, and kind of upset me. I went to go back into the house, but when I opened the carport door that went into our kitchen, there was an evil woman there. She came towards me and I tried to get away but she grabbed me and put me in a cardboard box she had on the kitchen table. I remember her pushing down the lid as I was fighting and crying. There were holes punched in the lid of the box so I could breathe. She had pushed me almost all the way into the box when my mom came in and said in a sharp voice, “What are you doing to her?” The woman let go of me and left the house immediately. Then I woke up.
These are the main experiences that I remember having as a child, all of which took place in that same house, oddly enough located at 13 Trentwood Drive. Nothing else “unusual” comes to mind from the rest of my childhood except for a unique feeling I had for old houses. I always was drawn to them, even at a young age. I remember getting a very strange feeling any time I went into an old building, kind of a tingly sickness in my stomach, almost like my bowels churning. The house I remember most is my grandparents’ house in Knoxville, a beautiful old home built at the turn of the century on a street (now gone) called Melrose Place. It had a large front porch, a big wood-panelled hallway with pocket doors leading off to the various rooms, and a massive carved banister running alongside the staircase up to the second floor. I remember the smell, and the general atmosphere; it was so different from our own house, and from any other place I’d been, for that matter. I must have spent the night there at least once, and I know there was a big attic that surely I must have visited, and probably several times. But all I can seem to remember now is that creepy but wonderful sick feeling and the woody, musty smell. I remember nothing else, nothing specifie, no conversations, no meals eaten, no baths taken, just a lingering eerieness. I find this lack of memories quite odd. It is almost as if I were transported into another world when I was in that house. I would go off by myself and “feel” the past, touching the wood and the doorknobs and just feeling them. I remember going into the upstairs bathroom and just sitting there looking at the clawfoot bathtub. This feeling of otherworldliness came on not only there but in nearly any old house I went into. I think I sometimes entered another dimension. My parents used to say “I’ll bet you’re going to grow up to be a historian, you love old houses so much!” but it was much more than a simple interest in history. I was able to enter into the world of the past and feel something essential there.
As an adult, I have lived in several houses where spirits have made themselves known to me more noisily. While in college in the early 80s, I lived for a year in a beautiful Gothic structure in Athens, Georgia that was built in the late 19th century. My room was upstairs, a large bedroom with a fireplace, a teeny closet, and huge dormer windows. Often at night, but sometimes in the daytime, and always when the other tenants were out, I would hear footsteps. Usually they sounded like someone running down the stairs at breakneck speed. But once they reached the bottom of the staircase, they would stop. I would wait for the front door to open, hoping it was one of my roommates on their way out, but it never did. Sometimes I would leave my room to go look down the stairs, but there was never anyone there. I would call out to my roommates, only to find that I was only one home. There were other sounds, too. Not only me, but several roommates as well heard things moving in the walls, almost like the sound of someone breathing. But it was inside the walls.
I had another odd experience while living in Atlanta in my late 20s. I bought a piece of fabric at an antique store, planning to use it as a tablecloth or a window covering. It was a batik cotton cloth with designs on it. The man who sold it to me said it had been an altar cloth, but I didn’t really think anything of it. It was pretty and interesting, so I bought it. When I got home with it I left it folded up and put it in the linen closet for a while. One day I remembered it, and decided to air it out on the porch, then put it on my kitchen table. I took it outside, where it was a beautiful sunny spring day. Walking to the edge of the porch, I unfolded the cloth and started shaking it to get the dust out. As soon as I did, a wind came up and started blowing the trees. It got stronger, tossing the plants around on my porch and blowing my hair into my face and mouth. I stopped shaking the cloth and looked up at the sky. Huge dark clouds had moved in and had begun to block out the sun. The wind picked up fiercely, and really started to howl. I got scared and somehow knew it had something to do with the cloth. I folded it up quickly and put it down, then went inside, leaving it on the porch. As soon as I got inside the rain started, but soon it cleared up. Later in the day I took the cloth immediately to the trash can and threw it away. Someone said I should have burned it, but I would never had done that. It felt like doing anything other than getting rid of it immediately would have unleashed more power into the world.
The most significant experience I ever had was in the house I lived in right after getting married. It was in Decatur, Georgia, just a regular 1950s brick ranch house. When I first looked at the house, my friends lived in it, but were thinking of selling. I was attracted by the warm, homey feel it had. We eventually bought it and moved in, but from the moment we moved in, the atmosphere felt changed. The homey feeling was gone, and instead I felt nervous and uncomfortable in it. Soon afterwards I started smelling odd things from time to time – cigar smoke, perfume, mothballs, bacon—smells that would appear and disappear completely at random. They were very strong, and definitely not coming from any natural source.
I was pregnant at the time, and went to bed very early every night. Our bedroom shared a wall with a smaller room we used as a den and t.v. room. One night, after I’d fallen asleep but my husband was still up watching t.v., I heard him open the bedroom door and peek in. “Are you okay?” he said. “Yes, I’m asleep. Why?” “Oh, never mind. I must be imagining things.” This happened again a few nights later, and then again, and finally I asked him what was going on. He told me that each night as he was watching t.v., he would hear the sound of someone crying. He said the first time, he turned the volume down on the t.v., and listened, but couldn’t tell where the crying was coming from, but that it seemed to be coming from my room. He thought it was me, which is why he kept coming in the bedroom. But I was never crying. I was asleep each time it happened. This went on for months, and finally he stopped coming in to check on me, though he kept hearing the crying.
We finally moved out of that house about a year after my son was born. The last night that we officially owned the house, my husband went back to gather a few last minute items we hadn’t yet moved, and the baby and I stayed behind at the new place. When he got back from cleaning he was shaken up and I asked him what had happened. He said that after he had gotten all our things out of the house, he went back in to sweep. Each time he cleaned out a room, he would close the door and move on to the next room. He said he would pass back by cleaned rooms and find the doors opened. Finally, he heard a door slam in the back of the house and decided to leave. He is not easily frightened but was obviously upset.
Other unusual experiences I possess include a healing ability and dreams that come true. Several times I have held my hand over someone (usually one of my children) and feel warmth coming out of my palm. The children feel the warmth and feel better. The most significant experience of this kind was when at the age of five or six, my son had fluid on his hipbone and suddenly couldn’t walk. We took him to the ER and they took x-rays and told us the fluid was the result of some infection or cold, and that it would eventually be reabsorbed by the body. They said to put him to bed and let him rest for several days. He was in a lot of pain and slept in bed with me that night. I woke up before him, and held my right hand over his hip for quite a while, sending healing energy to him. He woke up a while later and said “Mom! My leg isn’t hurting at all!” He jumped out of the bed and was able to walk completely normally, which was amazing given he had to be carried in to bed the night before.
My premonitory dreams occurred only once, over the period of about three months in my late 20s. I had a series of dreams about insignificant things which later materialized. One was a dream about an old abandoned building I used to drive by on my way to work every day, the carriage house to an old home that had been torn down. The building had been standing desolate for several years and had housed squatters and vandals and graffiti artists periodically throughout that time. In the dream I was with a dear friend, standing in the upstairs window of the building. We were looking across the lawn at a bulldozer that was coming to tear down the house. We were very upset, and rushed downstairs to try to stop them from coming. Then the dream ended. Two or three days later I was on my way to work and passed the house as usual. I saw a bulldozer standing in the yard, and thought, “Hmm…that wasn’t there before.” On my way home, the house was gone.
The second dream involved my then-boyfriend, with whom I had recently broken up. It occurred the night of his birthday. In real life, he and I were supposed to have gone out during the day to celebrate, but he had stood me up. I had gone to bed very angry. In the dream, it was the day after his birthday. He called me and said, “I am so sorry about yesterday. My sister came into town unexpectedly and said she would take me out to eat anywhere I wanted to go. I told her I wanted to go to the Grill in Athens, so we drove up and spent the whole day there.” The actual next day, just after dreaming this, I called him to berate him for standing me up on his birthday. He said, “I’m sorry! I went to Athens with my sister and we didn’t get back till late.” I told him about the dream, and how weird it was that he actually had gone to Athens with his sister. He replied, “Oh my God. You’re freaking me out. Do you know where we ate lunch?? The Grill.”
My daughter is also a psychic, perhaps stronger than me. She lacks any training but is in touch with spirits in my mom’s house and at her school. She is a healer as well. Is this hereditary? Is it something we can hone and develop and really put to use? I wonder.