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According to a 2009 Pew poll, 29% of Americans say they have felt in touch with someone who has already died, and 18% report having seen or been in the presence of a ghost.

I’m one of them. It’s one of those things that has to happen to you before you start to ask the questions, because it’s so easy to dismiss out of hand. I learned a long time ago that I couldn’t dismiss it. So laugh at me if you like.

When I was in high school, I was disturbed at night by the sound of footsteps. I could clearly hear them coming up the stairs from the basement and into our kitchen where they stopped. When this kept waking me up, I finally told my mother about it. She said very firmly, “That’s ridiculous, and I don’t want you telling anyone about it because the last thing I need to deal with is four frightened children.”

So I kept my mouth shut. I did win the battle to keep the hall light on outside my door, and so many nights I’d lie there in heart-pounding fear as I listened to someone walk up from the basement and into the kitchen. I have no idea why I thought the light would protect me.

During that same period, we went to visit my aunt and uncle in another state. I was sleeping in the baby’s room with the baby when I heard, unmistakably, the baby scale creak. The sense of presence was so overwhelming, I got out of bed and went to join the adults who were still sitting up having coffee around the dining table. I didn’t say anything, but all of a sudden my aunt asked, “Did something scare you? I know we have a ghost.”

Yeah, really. So I told her about the scale and she replied that they’d long noticed a cold spot outside the baby’s bedroom door, that their older children had asked about the girl they kept seeing in the living room, and how one night they leaped out of bed because they heard what sounded like all the dishes in their kitchen smashing onto the floor. She and my uncle got out there and found nothing amiss.

I slept in a different bedroom that night, thanks to my aunt’s understanding.

But back to my home experience. I went off to college, the ghost never to be discussed again, I thought. Until a few years later when my mother apologized to me.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “You weren’t being imaginative, and it’s gotten worse.”

My oldest brother heard the footsteps too, and came out of his room more than once in the middle of the night with a knife in hand thinking someone had broken in. My younger sister’s fiance was touched on the leg and shaken early one morning when he was sleeping in our basement bedroom. He thought it was a cat until he looked around and realized the cats were locked out.

My youngest brother was sitting on the deck one night with the sliding doors open and heard what he thought was my older brother and his wife come home and head down to their basement apartment. He was stunned when he went in to greet them and no one was there.

My mother came home from work one day to find a sugar bowl upended in the middle of the kitchen floor, far from any counter. At that point she got mad and yelled, “You can live here if you want but just don’t make any more messes!” That’s when it struck her that she was yelling at a ghost, and a shiver of apprehension ran through her.

It continued to get worse. They named the ghost George and he started to move further into the house. It became so bad that when my dad was out of town, Mom would lock herself in her bedroom at dusk and not come out again until morning. And she’d listen to those footsteps come down the hall and stop outside her door.

Eventually they moved across the country and had no more problems, but if you ever mentioned that ghost again, my mother would say superstitiously, “Don’t even mention it!” As if she feared she might get the attention of something.

Me, I haven’t had any problems since. And in retrospect, I realize “George” never hurt anyone or did anything threatening. Whatever he was, he was just there. Kinda like part of the family.

Do you have any stories?

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