My Personal Ghost Story(s)
My late husband and I met in 1990 at the laboratory we both worked for. Neither of us believed in the paranormal, and in fact we were both atheists. I still am. However, I now believe that our consciousness continues after bodily death. Here’s what changed my mind…
In 1995 my late husband and I moved into our home in Seattle. The house was built in 1926, and had not been renovated at all, other than the appliances. A few years after we moved in, I decided we should put an exercise room in the huge basement, as our home was too small to put equipment anywhere else.
Around that time I started to notice that things would go missing and then we would find those things in very weird places. For example, my husband was cooking, and I was in the tub. He came in and asked if I had taken the measuring cup. I had gotten into the bath before he started cooking and had not budged. He said he had it right next to him, had turned away to do something, but when he turned back it was gone.
I got out of the tub, put my robe on, and went into the living room (next to the kitchen). My eye caught the sight of the fireplace mantle’s glass cabinet door, which was ajar. The measuring cup was on the top shelf in the cabinet. I thought my husband was playing some prank on me but he swore he did not do it. Keys and small items also started to go missing, then turn up right where I left them, and sometimes in places that made no sense.
And then there was the toilet paper.
We had several cats, one of whom liked to pee on the bath mat. So we religiously kept the door shut. It was a habit, and neither of us ever left it open. It was muscle memory for both of us.
But starting around the time we began renovating, every few weeks, sometimes months, I would open the door to the bathroom to find that the toilet paper had been unrolled in a chevron pattern all the way across the floor. Even if it somehow unrolled on its own, there was no way it would be in a pattern all across the bathroom.
It was then that we began to suspect someone was living with us.
La Posada, Santa Fe
I made a reservation at La Posada in Santa Fe, so we could go there for a long weekend. It was purportedly haunted, and I wanted to see if anything similar would happen somewhere else. Now this part still blows me away.
One day I came home early from work and flipped on the TV. An episode of Unsolved Mysteries was on, and the hotel I was going to was being featured. The show was at least 10 years old, and it was on a channel I rarely watched. It was about the ghost of La Posada. I was shocked at the coincidence. I was going there that weekend.
Right then my friend calls me and says he just turned on his TV and it was on Unsolved Mysteries and was showing my hotel room. He had also come home early, and did not watch this channel. We were both dumbfounded at the coincidence.
When we went on the trip, all was quiet the first night and I was fine with it, though maybe a little disappointed. We were staying in “Julia’s Room” in the main house. The property is quite spread out, and most of the guest rooms are individual casitas built all over the property. My mom and step-dad had met us there, but they were staying in one of the casitas about 10 minutes away. The main building where we were staying had a restaurant, bar, and a game room on the first level. Guest rooms were on the 2nd and 3rd levels. The hotel had been a grand home built in the mid-1800s by a wealthy merchant named Joseph Staab. Sadly, his wife, Julia was mentally ill and really went downhill after the death of one of her children. So, she was kept in her room, as it was common to do back then so the children wouldn’t be stigmatized (and have their chances at a good marriage jeapordized). Her spirit is apparently quite active.
On our second night, we were all playing board games and smoking cigars in the game room after dinner. This was directly below Julia’s room. A waitress walked by my dad and spilled a drink on him so my husband said he would go get one of his own shirts for him to change into since my step-dad’s casita was a good distance away. My husband left, but then came back less than a minute later. He was very excited, and told us we had to come to the room. I grabbed a staff member to come with us, just in case.
When we walked in, I knew why he was so excited. The room was just reeking of rose perfume. I mean it was so strong I had to step out to catch my breath. I asked the staff member if anyone had gone into our room. She said no, they were not allowed to do that unless it was housekeeping…but this was 9:00 at night. She then told us “Julia gets upset when people smoke cigars, and this happens when she smells the smoke.” We had been taping the room, just in case there was any activity, but we saw nothing. Nobody else had entered the room since we had gone downstairs for dinner.
Coming home and the “Big Night”
When my husband and I returned from our trip to La Posada, activity in our home ramped up dramatically. Most notably, the unraveled toilet paper prank happened more often. Now I know you may be thinking that my husband was doing this, and I considered that, but it would have been very difficult to pull off. And he was out of town a lot, and activity happened even then.
I should note that we had one bathroom, on the first floor. Our bedroom was on the second floor, next to my office. One night, we went out to dinner with some friends on a Sunday evening. We got home at about 10:00pm. We were both pretty tired, so decided to go straight to bed as it was a “school night”. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. Nothing was amiss. He got ready for bed too, so we turned off the lights downstairs and went up the stairs (he was right behind me).
I ran to the bed and jumped in over the footboard. At the exact moment I landed, the TV turned on. It was on some obscure channel that we had not been watching (we had watched SNL the night before). Not only was it on a different channel, but it was playing an old scary movie I remembered watching as a kid, called “Don’t Look Now”. I couldn’t believe it was playing, I hadn’t seen it many years, but my husband didn’t care about the movie. He wanted to know how I turned the TV on. I said I must have landed on the remote and started looking around myself for it. Then he told me not to bother…he pointed to his nightstand, and there it was – a good 15 feet away from him and about 6 feet from me.
I knew he didn’t turn it on because our TV was a POS, and the on/off button, if it was on the box, was well hidden enough that I had never laid eyes on it. There was a plastic flap/cover at the base of it, and I found out later that you had to reach in underneath it to get to the on/off button. Weird, I know, but that’s how it was built. I just used the remote and never really thought about it. I asked my husband how he turned it on without the remote (I honestly wanted to know), but he insisted he didn’t do it. And because he didn’t have the remote and nowhere near the TV, I believed him.
He was visibly shaken. It still had not sunk in for me. He didn’t turn it on, and I didn’t turn it on. It was on a different channel. I could only surmise it must be some electronic malfunction, and I blew it off. He did not. I grabbed the remote and studied it for a few minutes, trying to find a stuck button or some logical explanation. But it looked fine, and I used it to turn off the TV. My husband had terrible PTDS from his days in the army, and he said that someone must be in the house. He decided to do a full sweep, and started to head downstairs. Not being a total moron, I told him I would come with him.
On our way out of the bedroom I tossed the remote onto the bed.
When we walked into the kitchen we were shocked. All the lights were on, and ALL the cabinets were open. He was starting to really freak out. And so was I. I now agreed that someone must be in the house, but remembering the toilet paper incidents, my mind started to think it may be something else.
We left the kitchen and went into the living room. The light was on in there too, and the chandelier was swinging wildly. I had never seen anything like it. I went over to it and reached up to stop it from moving. As I reached up I felt a buzzing sensation in my body, kind of like static electricity. That could have been my nerves, but to this day it remains the strangest sensation I have ever had.
We decided to continue through the house, and he said he was going to check out the basement. We walked down the hall to the basement door, and I told him to hang on because we had walked past the (closed) bathroom door, and I wanted to see if someone was in there. I cracked open the door, turned on the light, and saw that the toilet paper was once again unrolled in a chevron pattern across the floor. I quickly shut the door. My husband opened the basement door and started to go down the stairs, when he let out a yelp, then quickly did an about-face and came right back up again. He was pale and shaking, and said “something cold” had just gone through his body. He was really upset, and I had never seen him so frightened.
We only had one more room to go, so I told him I’d go in by myself. It was our guest bedroom, and it was just a few feet down from the basement door. I reached over to turn the knob…and ALL of the door hardware fell out. I was left holding a doorknob, staring at the floor where everything else had fallen. I do not know why, but that was probably the most jolting part of it (so far) for me. How could all the hardware have been loosened just enough to fall when the knob was turned? Someone had to be able to manipulate it just enough to stay on, but also enough that it would fall when the knob was twisted. When the door opened nothing in the room itself looked off, so we decided to go back to our bedroom to try to calm down and get some sleep.
He was behind me as we went back upstairs, and when we walked back into the bedroom, the TV was on again. I know I turned it off, and I know he had not been in the room since we left it. He had been in my line of vision the entire time. Whatever had done all the stuff downstairs had been in our room again. I went to the bed to get the remote, but I could not find it anywhere. I scoured that room, looked in drawers, under the bed, pulled the covers off…but found nothing. My husband thought I might have taken it downstairs, so we reluctantly decided to go back down to look for it. I guess we could have just unplugged the TV, but I wanted to know where that remote was.
He walked out of the room, and as I was following him I caught sight of something shiny in the cat litter box. It was a covered box, but the light was hitting something metallic, so I went over and took the cover off.
It was the remote control.
Yes, my TV remote was buried in the (used) litter box. After everything else that happened that night, this put me over the top. Someone was clearly having fun scaring us, and they were there RIGHT NOW. And I could not see them. It was less of a fear of “ghosts” than it was a fear that came about from knowing that I was visible to someone who was not visible. That was it for the night, though, and we went to bed without further incident. Not that I slept a whole lot.
Other miscellaneous incidents
Another time, I remember going to my office – also upstairs, and getting this feeling like someone was with me in the room. My husband was on yet another business trip, so I was sure there were no other humans in the house. The house was very quiet, and I just had this strange feeling. On a lark, I said “if you are able to hear and understand me, please go do the toilet paper thing. I’ll give you a few minutes before I go downstairs to check. That will let me know if you are real or if my husband is pranking me. After 5 minutes or so, I went down to check, and you probably know what happened.
I opened the door, and the toilet paper was laid out in a chevron pattern across the floor. Again. So now I was alone with an invisible someone. AND…I knew that whoever this was could understand me, and communicate with me. I still have no idea if he or she was there all the time, or just popped in for mayhem once in a while. It’s not like something happened every day or even every week. But enough happened at that house to change my entire worldview.
I will add to this post that I had a housekeeper come every week, and one time I was outside gardening when she came over. My husband was out of town. About an hour went by, and she ran out side looking panicked. She asked if I had been inside and I told her I hadn’t. When I asked why she wanted to know, she said that she and her sister had been upstairs cleaning the bedroom when they heard the utensil drawer in the kitchen open and slam shut over and over. She thought that someone had broken in, because I am a very chill person and she didn’t think it was me.
I then decided to tell her. When I did, she just said “oh, that makes sense now. We had wondered if that was what was going on.” Apparently my ghost liked to play pranks on her too. But she was accepting of it, and said that in Mexico it wasn’t a big deal like it is here in the USA. She still works for me, 20 years later.
My Last (Public) Story
My husband passed away at age 42. His PTSD and depression got the best of him, and it turned out that his family has alcoholism. His father and uncle also died of it, and his two brothers and sister very nearly did as well. It’s very traumatic for me, and people don’t understand that alcoholism is indeed a disease – in fact it’s over 70% genetic. People with alcohol addiction have a different reaction to alcohol, and even brain scans can show this. But that doesn’t stop people from being unkind and telling me that “he did it to himself”. People love to blame. They just love it. And those same people often do not like to read or learn. My husband was a brilliant engineer, he served his country, he saved animals, and he loved me with all his heart. And he died.
A year after he passed, I took a weekend trip and someone hitched a ride from my house to my friend’s cabin, which was a 5-hour drive away. About half-way through the drive, I was crying my heart out. My mind was going to very bad places. I had no children, no family to speak of. My husband’s family blamed me for his death, and refused to speak to me. I was utterly alone, save for my animals. And they were the only reason I wanted to stay alive.
So 2 1/2 hours into my drive, crying my eyes out, I smell something very familiar. It was cat urine. It was not a faint odor, like a cat had peed on something in my bag. It was overwhelming. At first I thought maybe the sun had warmed up the luggage, and it was on the luggage, but it was not that. I pulled everything up to the front seat and there was nothing malodorous. It couldn’t have been the car itself, because they had not been in the car, except when in a carrier to go to the vet. But the sudden and overwhelming nature of the odor made me remember La Posada, when the perfume was all over our room. I started to giggle. It had to be my husband. We talked about cat pee every day. We had to clean it from somewhere in the house, seemingly every day. We had several older cats whom we loved dearly, and it was the price we paid. But nobody else would have known that this was the only smell I would associate with him.
Could it have been the ghost in my house? Perhaps, but the activity had really diminished in the last several years. I really thought it was him, and that he was trying to get me to stop crying, and to stop my suicidal ideation.
I rolled all my windows down and after 10 or 15 minutes it cleared. I started talking to him like he was there. I felt better, and the second half of my drive was far easier.
I was following some other friends to the cabin, and I saw they had turned into a driveway. I pulled up behind them, and then BOOM! The smell was back in full force. I ran out of the car and told them I would be a few minutes and would meet them inside. I then spent about 10 minutes going over every item, every bit of upholstery, even every bit of the outside of the car. I could not find a source. By the time I was done, I just said “please make the smell go away for now.”, and it dissipated as quickly as it had come.
I went into the cabin, and the owner showed me to my sleeping area, not a room exactly, but a corner on the second floor with a nice bed. I started to open my suitcase and the smell came back a third time! I told the owner that I would be a few minutes, and he left before it became really strong. I whispered “not here”, and it went away again. This was incredibly healing, but I couldn’t explain it.
The next day we all had breakfast and went on a hike. When we got back, it was time for lunch, so a couple of the guys went into the kitchen and brought food out to the patio. The cabin is on a large (20+ acres) plot of land, and there are no visible neighbors. We ate, and then everyone became quiet. We were all staring off into the distance, each seemingly lost in our own head. One of my friends the said “I miss Paul”. Others chimed in, and we all started to get teary. I was trying my best to hold it together when it happened again. BOOM! The smell of cat urine was overwhelming, like it had been the first time in the car. (By the way, the patio was quite a distance from where I had parked, and there was no wind). I said nothing. I was starting to wonder if it was all in my own imagination when another friends exclaimed “It smells like a goddamned litterbox! K**** (the owner), do you have a cat?”. He said he did not. Everyone said they smelled it though, except for K****, who had been ill and had a very diminished sense of smell. But the rest of us did (4 other guys and me).
One of the guys there said it must be a bobcat, and he got everyone to go inside to check. I stayed outside, I knew there would be no cat, no bobcat, no anything. I had the first geniune smile on my face I’d had in years. He still existed.