Finding a place to sit in the home of my Great Aunt is an experience that isn't easily forgotten. She is a hoarder; though not as afflicted as are the poor souls that you see on those television shows about hoarding interventions. When I visit someone, I feel uncomfortable moving piles of their personal items, just to sit in a chair.
She lives in Dalton and is in her late eighties. I will call her "Edith" because she looks like an Edith; she is the sweetest woman on Planet Earth and any person who visits her will leave her house a few pounds heavier as she is convinced that everyone is hungry.
Edith has lived in the same house since the early 1960's. When she was married to her first husband, the house was a basic split level. It had all of the bedrooms on the second floor with the garage below them. To the right of this garage, on the first floor, there were the functional rooms of the house; kitchen, living room, dining room and so on.
There were stairs that, theoretically, led down into a finished basement; it was all theoretical to me because I was born in 1981 and, since that event took place, I have had no reason to believe that her basement exists. Clutter has blocked the entry to the basement on every single occasion that I have been there. I do know that there is a door called: "The Basement Door".
My mother says that Edith wasn't a hoarder before her first husband died. He died of a heart attack in early 1970, right before my mother turned nine years old.
My mother has told me of many of her own sightings of her dead uncle or of evidence that he was still around. One sticks with me; a week or two after her uncle's funeral, she said that she was sleeping in the guest bedroom and that she was awoken by the heavy scent of flowers. The scent was so strong that she described it as being a hindrance to her breathing. She got out of bed and rubbed her eyes; the room was faintly lit by the overhead light in the hallway that came through the open bedroom door. When she looked up, she saw her uncle looking out of a wall mounted mirror.
He was not looking at her; he was looking in the direction of the open door and the hallway light. She said that he was wearing his funeral clothing. Maybe he was looking for Edith.
My mother said that she jumped back in the bed and hid under the covers. If it was ME that saw him, I would have calmly walked out of there and they would have found me sleeping on the couch. "Calmly" because it's the people who run like maniacs who are the ones who get caught; it matters very little what you run from.
Her reasoning behind her actions was that she was more afraid of getting on her mother's (my Grandmother's) nerves than she was of any ghost. She also said that her uncle had always been kind to her and she was only afraid because she knew he was compelled to be there for some reason.
She never told Edith that she saw him. Edith was very heartbroken at that time and she knew it would make her aunt upset to have to hear "ghost stories" about her husband.
So, my mother told me about it two decades later. The awesome power of suggestion has caused me to be wary of having a mirror anywhere near my bed.
In 1975, Edith got married to her second husband. I barely remember him because he died young too; he had a brain tumor. Throughout the late seventies and early eighties, he made a few additions to the house. The lot that the house was on looked like a normal size from the street but the backyard went back for a long way; it was into this backyard that he made the additions.
Originally, there was a door in the living room that led outside into a small garden area. Edith doesn't have much of a green thumb but she is very optimistic about growing things. The plants in her garden were struggling for life (or for a humane death) so it was no big deal to move the whole enterprise to another side of the yard. He removed the door and made a kind of short hallway.
Someone with a surreal sense of interior design had fixed the walls of this hallway with frameless mirrors; top to bottom and end to end. Nothing stood in the way of seeing yourself reflected off into infinity; not even darkness. Coming from that, he built a long family room and at the end of that was a larger master bedroom and bathroom.
After I started to grow older, there were less opportunities to visit Edith in Dalton. My mother and I stayed in her home once when I was twenty years old; there was a wedding going on with a second cousin that I can't even remember the name of. Edith's house was filled to capacity on that occasion and I had to sleep on an uncomfortable couch in the new living room. This couch was quite close to the hallway between the two living rooms.
The couch looked lovely but it was one of those Victorian reproductions that are really most useful as a decorative item. They certainly make an awkward bed! I was lying down forever, trying to convince myself that I was comfortable and tired. It was while I was trying to cope with the couch that I heard someone walking in the old living room. I could hear the speed of their footsteps and knew that the only place anyone could be going was either to see me or Edith, in her bedroom. They weren't just wandering around.
My line of sight from the couch enabled me to see through the hall of mirrors and into a corner of the old living room. So, as I listened to the approaching footsteps, I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep; I didn't feel like having any more conversations with anyone. I heard the footsteps pause before the mirrors and I peeked from between my eyelashes and saw no one.
As soon as I saw nothing, the footsteps continued coming down the hall towards me. They sounded as if they were wearing heavy shoes and they paused again at the threshold of the room. There was nothing there. I wanted to believe that it was someone walking upstairs but it was very obvious to me that the sound was coming from the hardwood floor of the hallway; that part of the house was only one floor, anyway.
Edith had invested quite a small fortune in night lights so it was never really nighttime anywhere except for in the closets and the inaccessible basement. I had enough light to see. I didn't hear the footsteps retreat back down the hall and they didn't come in the room where I was. I sat up; even though I saw nothing there but mirrors reflecting each other, my mind told me that a man was standing there.
It was really unnerving. I put my headphones on and rolled over. I felt confident that there wasn't any harm meant in what was happening and more confident that he wasn't able to pass into the new section of the house. I thought it was Edith's first husband, looking after her now that she was alone again.
I don't remember how long it took me to fall asleep but I felt terrible the next day. I remember having an omelet for breakfast.
I came back to Edith's house in September of 2019 and the house is even more stuffed with objects than it ever was. She got married to another man a few years ago... God bless her. When they got married, she was 85 and he was 89. He doesn't even live with her because he can't move around in the house; he has his own house nearby.
I don't think there is anything to be worried about with Edith or her house. I think that the footsteps that I heard were, maybe, residual. There used to be a small porch where the hallway is and maybe my Great Uncle used to have a routine about standing there. If he really is there, maybe he just wants to be sure that Edith is happy.
Thank you for reading my story!