This is the time of year – when the heat is cranked up – that one hears all kinds of creaks and groans in old houses, which I always live in. One time a woman said to me, “I could never live in an old house. I mean someone probably died there.” I thought, so what? Someone probably died on the street corner you pass everyday. If there were white dots everywhere someone died on this planet, there would be a sea of white. “It’s also the ghost thing,” she added. “They freak me out.”
I’ve read that 20 percent of people believe in ghosts; 25 percent more think they could exist. Even more interesting, 18 percent think they’ve encountered one.
I’ve never had an issue with the thought of a person dying in a house I live in. Circle of life and all that. And I’m not all that concerned about ghosts. I mean, why do we assume that ghosts are always bad? Maybe some ghosts are nice, even helpful.
For instance I would like a nice turn-of-the-century ghost around. Standard ghost of that era: Beautiful Gertrude just hasn’t been able to move on to the next level since her fiancé left her at the alter and she offed herself, so she’s floating around in a lovely hand-embroidered wedding dress looking for ways to find meaning in her afterlife. I say put her to work! Make her feel useful!
“Gertrude, luv, would you float this pile of laundry up the stairs and into my closet? Thanks ever so much.” “Gertrude, darlin’, be a peach and glide over here with a soda and some chips, will you?” “Gertrude, would you hover over the kiddos until they fall asleep? You’re an angel! Oops! You know what I mean! Ha, ha!”
Typically in movies we see the angry ghost in a big, formerly grand house that is now run down, super spooky and full of dust and cobwebs. When someone walks in, the floorboards creak and bats fly every which way. Perhaps this ghost is grumpy because no one is taking care of their beautiful old house. After building and furnishing this sumptuous home, they die unexpectedly from a paper cut (pre-antibiotics).
Then the folks who inherit the house let it go to hell in a hand basket, and this just ticks off this ghost to no end. The property ends up getting foreclosed on, somehow the badly run bank looses the paperwork, and the formerly glorious home sits unoccupied for decades, slowly decaying. Well, this would tick me off too.
Like if I were to die tomorrow, let’s say I fall down the stairs and hit my head on our beautiful newel post – a really fitting way for a remodeler to go – perhaps I would want to hang out in this house I just finished renovating. You know, enjoy my work for a few centuries before I move again to the next plane of existence (which no doubt will need some work). Well, it would really bother me if my house’s next homeowners were shiftless, clueless slobs.
Over water a houseplant on the mantle I painstakingly patched, sanded and refinished? I will knock that sucker off and float your dry clean only shirt over to soak up the water. Let your dog scratch at the doors? Fido’s food dish will end up in your pot of simmering bouillabaisse. Talk about replacing the beautiful historic windows? Watch what happens to your vehicle’s windows (despite your “Coexist” bumper sticker).
Wow, apparently I would make a really nasty ghost. Maybe people should be afraid of ghosts in old houses, especially persnickety ones with big head gashes.
By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Colorado freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.