Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Family ghosts

All right. Back to my grandparents' haunted house.

First of all, and I know I mentioned it before, I really loved this house. We moved around a lot growing up and this house felt more like home than any place we lived. This house had a distinct personality. To me, it felt like another family member. The day my Meemaw moved out, I refused to go over there. I wanted to remember it as it had been -- full of my grandparents' stuff. Not empty and waiting for another family to move in. It's still hard for me to drive past it when I visit Beaumont. It is hard for me to look at these pictures.

This picture is of the back door of the house. You can barely make out a door under the carport, and that led into my Peepaw's shop, which I blogged about the other day. To the right of that door is another door (just to the right of that light -- which I think is a porch light -- OR IS IT?), and that's the one that led into the house. The red brick part to the right is the room I used to stay in.

I grew up living far away from Beaumont. Twice a year, we made the 14-hour drive to Houston and Beaumont to see both sets of grandparents. One year during this drive, late at night (we always drove straight through), my dad decided to tell me about the ghosts in Meemaw's house.

They moved into the house when my dad was 15, and mysterious things began happening not long after. Pots and pans sitting on kitchen counters -- far from the edge -- would suddenly slide off and crash to the floor. My Meemaw had a china cabinet in the dining room, and when someone walked through the room, the dishes and silver in the cabinet would rattle. My dad heard the rattling several times when no one was walking through the room.

My dad used to listen to the radio to fall asleep. One night he woke up and heard the radio playing and realized he hadn't turned it off. He reached down to turn it off and found that the radio was already off. Then the music stopped.

He would also hear voices talking at night. He thought it was his parents. Once he got up to check, and they were sound asleep. Another time, he heard someone walk through the dining room (the rattling again) and then he heard someone rattle his parents' bedroom doorknob. He got up again to check. Again, they were fast asleep.

Let me say here that my grandparents were pretty conservative Church of Christ folks. In conservative CoC circles, you just plain don't believe in this stuff. And you certainly don't ever talk about it. It was our family secret.

Meemaw would explain the occurences away, attributing them to "the possums in the attic." She did have possums in the attic, but how they could rattle a china cabinet or knock a saucepan off the kitchen counter is beyond me.

One day Meemaw was sitting in the living room visiting with her best friend. My Meemaw's back was to the kitchen (two rooms away, but you could see into the kitchen from there) and her friend was facing her. They were talking when the friend suddenly called into the kitchen, "Woodie, (my Peepaw) is that you?" Meemaw told her Woodie was at work and not expected home yet. The friend said she had seen someone in the kitchen who appeared to be putting up groceries. She had seen movement and heard the rustling of grocery bags. The two women went into the kitchen to investigate and found nothing. Meemaw's friend was pretty unnerved, and she was never at ease whenever she visited the house after that.

Meemaw was the only family member who may have actually seen a ghost. One night she was in bed when she saw the image of a woman standing next to the bed. The woman began walking and Meemaw got up and followed her, saying, "Who are you?" Meemaw followed her through the den and the woman disappeared there -- just on the other side of the windows that appear to be covered with sheets in the picture. Meemaw recognized her as the woman they had bought the house from years earlier, who had since died. She told the story at first as having been a dream, but later she said she had been awake when the woman appeared.

The last time my dad knew of anything happening was in the early '70s. My parents had been married for several years, my brother was a preschooler and my mom was pregnant with me. My parents were getting ready to move to Lovington, New Mexico for my dad's first ministry job. Several times before that move, my parents would be visiting my grandparents when the doorbell would start ringing repeatedly. This was pretty unsettling, as you could imagine, but my Meemaw blamed it on the possums again, saying they must have been running over the wiring in the attic.

So my dad tells me all this in the middle of the night on a dark lonely, Hill Country road. By the time we get to Meemaw's, I'm scared out of my skin. And wouldn't you know it, this is the year Meemaw decides my brother and I are too old to be sharing a room and she had set up a bed for me in the living room of the house that I have just found out is haunted! After a few uneasy nights cowering under the covers, I started to relax. That house was special to me -- and to me, it wasn't just a house. It had seen me grow up from a baby, and I believed it wouldn't do anything to scare me. I felt safe there. It was my only real home.

I spent many more nights in that house after Dad told me about the ghosts, and I never experienced anything there besides the love of two precious people who I loved and miss so much. And I experienced the love of a house, if that makes any sense. It does to me.


  • At Tue Apr 11, 11:46:00 AM, Blogger americangerman said…

    Tuesday, 8:46 pm England time....I live for your autobiographies! ....could you describe the Anson lights sometime?

  • At Tue Apr 11, 12:25:00 PM, Blogger "Snapshot" said…

    I'm thinking about blogging about the experience. But honestly I'm still a bit uneasy about the whole thing. It kind of moved my spiritual furniture around a bit. My oldest son saw a ghost at my Grandmother's house when he was two, but now has no memory of it. It's just all really weird and makes we wonder about how all this fits into the grand scheme of things. Have you read "Seeing the Unseen" by Joe Beam? To hear his theory on all this, it's evil.

  • At Tue Apr 11, 01:09:00 PM, Blogger sarahdawn said…

    Creepy creepy! I think I beleive just enough that I would forever have been uneasy there. I'm glad God gave you peace inside so you could experience all that love. My theory goes something like this - God is God and he can allow us to see or not see, feel or not feel, experience or not whatever He chooses. Some of us can handle encoutners with the spirit world, some can't. Who am I to say anyone is wrong when they have experienced something I have not?

  • At Tue Apr 11, 01:41:00 PM, Blogger WinniePhew said…

    Deana: Dad here ...

    I feel there are explanations for all the stuff that went on around that house when I lived there as a teen. Just never knew what some of the explanations were.
    One night, I heard what sounded like a porch swing out on the sun porch. Just a rusty swinging sound ... back and forth ...
    The next day I looked out on the sun porch to see if I could find anything that might have made that sound. There was no porch swing there. However, there were two hooks in the ceiling where a porch swing used to be. Turned out the previous owner had a swing there. I had not previously known this.
    So I don't know what I heard that night. But whatever it was has yet to hinder my relationship with God.
    There were times as a kid I got pretty scared in that old house but I have subdued most of those memories.
    And sorry I frightened you by telling you all those stories.
    Probably should have kept all that stuff to myself.

  • At Tue Apr 11, 01:42:00 PM, Blogger Denise W. said…

    I am offically creeped out! I'm very happy to be reading this in the daylight! I couln't live there - the night I saw someone in my house, would be the night I moved out!!

    You really want to live there!?

  • At Tue Apr 11, 01:49:00 PM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    Dad -- don't be sorry... do you know how cool it is to have a haunted grandmother's house??? You never told me about the swing. Was it on the porch that caved in that time?

    Kelley -- I have read Joe Beam's book, although it has been a while. I think it all comes down to the fact that we can't know everything there is to know. And I still believe that much of this stuff has more of a scientific explanation than a paranormal one. Poltergeists are often thought of as ghosts, but I think they have more to do with intense (and often negative) energy becoming kinetic energy. I'm no scientist, but I think it's worth exploring.

    Anyway, I'd love to hear the story if you ever want to tell it, Kelley!

  • At Wed Apr 12, 04:24:00 AM, Blogger Beverly said…

    man, that's great! Oh my word..

  • At Wed Apr 12, 04:46:00 AM, Blogger "Snapshot" said…

    Thanks Deanna. It concerns my youngest son so that is the main reason I'm hesitant about publically sharing the story. I'm not ready for him to know about it yet for fear it will really scare him. He is just 10, so I'm more concerned that someone will "mention" it to him by mistake. Yes, I think most things have a reasonable explanation, but it's still all bizarre and unexpected.

  • At Wed Apr 12, 07:02:00 AM, Blogger Sarah said…

    Count me in as another creeped out kiddo. You are a good story-teller, though. I think I'm officially creeped out for the rest of the day.

    I have to share a story - about a year ago, my then-3-yr olds (who have never watched tv and haven't been exposed to anything more than VeggieTales) told us one morning that they didn't like that man that was in their room last night. When questioned, they said he was a scary man, with red eyes. They showed me exactly where he had stood. My heart jumped out and my husband searched the entire house, but of course there wasn't anyone. To this day, I still freak out whenever I think of it.

  • At Wed Apr 12, 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Tiffany said…

    Deana –

    Long time reader, first time “caller.”

    Anyway, I am simultaneously creeped out and relieved by what you (and others) wrote. Well, not by what you wrote, Sarah – I’m just plain creeped out by that. But I did take a little comfort from reading everyone else’s remarks.

    It is nice to hear that other Christians have had experiences like the ones you shared about your grandparents’ house and that they are not superstitious, unbelieving wackos. You see, I went to Harding and we have a somewhat famous ghost there named Gertie, in whom I did not believe in until I had two separate encounters with her. There have been other experiences in my life that I always wrote off as something else, trying to keep the heebly-jeeblies at-bay. But after Gertie and I hung out those two times, I have finally succumbed to the creepiness of it all.

    So anyway, thanks. Most Christians either think there’s something wrong with you or don’t want to talk about it at all if you bring it up. But after reading what the readers here have written, I feel less crazy now. Kind of.

  • At Sat Apr 29, 12:52:00 PM, Blogger Candice said…

    Woo! Neat story!

    I've seen a ghost before, but in fear of being rubuked, I've never told anyone about it. The Paranormal is a rather taboo subject in my social circle.

  • At Thu Sep 11, 07:30:00 PM, Blogger Wade said…

    CS Lewis once said "to spend too much time consumed with spirituals, demons and ghosts would play right into Satan's scheming . . . but to completely ignore them would be just as bad."

    (Paraphrase mine)

    Grant it, I may be taking his comment on spiritual warfare a little out of context. But just because we can't explain paranormal doesn't mean it doesn't exist!

    Great stories!


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