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.