It was the summer of 1991. I was dating a woman named Cary, with whom I had graduated high school. She was living in her family home that her father owned in the woods of a small town in upstate New York. The house was a huge three-story, A-frame structure built around a massive double sided chimney that opened into fireplaces in two rooms of each of the three floors. Although the first floor was finished, the second and third floors still had plywood flooring and unpainted sheetrock.
Her parents had started building the home several years before, but about 18 months prior, her mother had fallen ill. As it turns out, her mother was misdiagnosed by their family doctor, who treated her for about 9 months for some ailment other than the aggressive cancer that was taking over her body. By the time the doctor figured out that the volleyball-sized "cyst" on her shoulder was cancer, it was too late; and she was dead in about three months.
Cary and her mother were extremely close, and she did all she could to help and take care of her father after her mother's death. Prior to us becoming reacquainted earlier in the year, I had not seen Cary since high school, but coincidentally, I had been to her family's home and actually met her parents who were at a party their son was having, a couple years before. Her mother was very friendly and I spoke with her for quite some time. I mentioned to her that I had graduated with her daughter and we talked about several of our classmates that she was familiar with. After that party, I never saw Cary's mother alive again.
Since only the first floor of the A-frame was finished, Cary had set up her bedroom in the back of the house behind the fireplace and stairway that ran through the center of the house. Cary had a love for animals; her family had always had pets which at the time included two dogs and a rabbit. The rabbit was housebroken, but it also was allowed to go in and out of the house at will.
On several occasions, Cary and I both would wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of their younger dog, Butch, barking and running back and forth on the third floor playing with a ball. If you are a person who has ever had a very special dog that you will never forget in your life, Butch was that dog for me. The third floor was unfinished; there were some construction materials and personal items stored there, but for the most part was one big open racetrack for Butch to run around the stairway and chimney that ran through the center of the house. Although Butch was young and energetic and loved attention, he usually relaxed most of the time waiting for someone to prompt him to play ball.
One night while staying at the house, I awoke to a noise in the attached garage. The garage was closed but far from secure, and it sounded as if an animal had gotten in. I could hear scratching and shuffling around and presumed it was the family's pet rabbit. I got out of bed and looked at the clock radio, it was just past 2 AM. I walked to the door, and after trying two or three of the eight switches on the wall by the garage door, I turned on the light to the garage, opened the door and looked out. The doorway to the garage was positioned at the base of the stairway to the second floor. When the light came on, the noise stopped, and whatever was in the garage did not show itself. I stood there for several minutes waiting for the rabbit to hop out of its hiding place, but whatever was making the noise chose not to reveal itself. I turned off the light with the switch my hand had been on for the past few minutes, and closed the door.
As I turned to return to bed, I saw a human figure at the top of the stairs. Although the house was dark, the moonlight shining in the second floor glass doorways to the balcony silhouetted the solid figure perfectly. I could tell from the profile that it was a young to middle-aged woman, and as my mind acknowledged this, the figure turned to face me. Not knowing who this was or why this person was in the house, I began fumbling through the row of light switches, never taking my eye off of this person. Although I was not looking at the switches, I had both hands on the switch plate systematically flipping each switch because I knew one of them lit the stairway. I tried all eight and none of them worked. But I had spent a lot of time in the house over the past several weeks and had used one of the switches to light the stairway in the past.
I began flipping the switches again and again as I stared at this figure and this figure appeared to stare back at me. The figure raised its arms slightly as if to steady itself and shifted forward as if it was about to descend the stairway toward me. Just as my panicked mind acknowledged this, the light in the hallway came on... I had finally found the right switch. In the blinding light of the stairway stood...nothing. I stood at the bottom of the stairway for several minutes looking up the stairs as if I were in a trance. I stood that way until a whispered voice said to me, "What are you doing?"...it was Cary, although I did not realize it when it was happening, I had turned on all of the lights in the downstairs of the house and the light had woken her up. I do not know how long it actually took for me to answer her, but it seemed like a long time. I finally told her that I had heard something in the garage and had hit the wrong switch by accident.
I turned off all of the lights except for the stairway light and returned to bed. I lay awake the rest of the night watching and listening, but nothing else happened. The next morning I told Cary about what had happened to me. Although she said, "It was probably my mother"; I do not think that she believed that it really was. But I know it was. I had met her mother; and at a distance of about fifteen feet, she was unmistakable, even in the dark.
For the next week, Butch played ball upstairs with someone every night, usually between two and three o'clock. Neither Cary nor I ever suggested going upstairs when we would hear him play.
As is the case with many relationships between young adults, as time went by we realized we had less in common than we originally thought; and after a few months the relationship ended. To this day I do not know what Cary's mother wanted to tell me, or wanted me to know. I did my best to take care of her through what was obviously a difficult time in her life, and if that is what her mother wanted from me, I feel I did the best that I could. I do not know if she in some way made me receptive to spirits from that point on, or if seeing a spirit for myself just made me open my eyes wider; but I have had multiple paranormal experiences since. It is a mystery to me, that if I had this ability all along, why it took me 25 years to figure it out.
About a year later, I got a call from Cary. She had since moved from her parents' house and was living in a small apartment in town. An angry neighbor had taken exception to either her, or her dog, and had poisoned Butch. I helped her take him to the veterinarian to be cremated.
Through my experiences with spirits in my life, I have come to understand more about myself and the world than I would have without their impact. Although their message is never clear, I know they come to us for a reason. By helping those who have passed, I hope to help those who are alive to enjoy their lives to the fullest by ridding their lives of supernatural interferences. For others, I want to help them to feel the comfort that those they have loved watch over them, sometimes from beyond, and sometimes by their side.
And in my mind's heaven, Butch is still running laps around the fireplace, and Cary's mother never gets tired of throwing that ball...