My father passed away suddenly about five years ago. He was a diabetic with poor circulation, and was only 52 years old when he died in bed on New Years' Day. The official cause of death was "complications from diabetes" and it's generally believed that the "complication" was a heart attack or an aneurysm. Needless to say, the loss was devastating to me and my family.
Before I explain the things I saw and heard after my father passed, I'd like to share some known sites of hauntings in and around the part of Eugene where he died. I'll also add a little history as well.
First, the local haunts.
I worked for my father in his law office on Willagillespie Road. His house was on a quiet street off Willagillespie Road so the house and the office were less than a mile away from each other. The office was not far from Dedrick Slough, another place in Eugene that is reported to be haunted by a somewhat opaque woman who is best not approached. Two other hauntings nearby my father's office and my family's home is the Eugene Toys 'R Us, which is supposed to have a haunting in the store room and the former K-Mart which is now an auto dealership. Both of those hauntings are said to be dangerous in that things in the stores move around by themselves and are sometimes thrown while people are present.
My brothers, sister and I attended Sheldon High School, which is about two miles away and the school's courtyard is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a woman calling for her daughter "Frances." When she can't find her daughter, she gets angry and shakes the trees. This is not as well known as the South Eugene High School ghost, where the identity of the ghost is largely agreed to be that of Robert Grankey, a student who fell from a catwalk in the school's auditorium and died in 1958. The other four hauntings - Dedrick Slough, Toys 'R Us, K-Mart, Sheldon High School - are of unknown origin and no one has any good idea who the ghosts that inhabit these places are.
There is a cemetery on Gillespie Butte, which is directly behind Willagillespie Elementary School. Many of the area's early settlers are buried there, including Reverend Jacob Gillespie, who originally owned the donation land claim that the school, surrounding homes and businesses and the Eugene Country Club are now on. Cal M. Young (also buried at Gillespie Cemetery) had the other half of the donation land claim from his parents, who had split the claim with Reverend Gillespie in the 1850's. The cemetery is small, less than 400 burials, but is the final resting place of pioneers from all over the Eugene/Springfield area. It is remote, at the top of the butte and walking is steep and long.
Interestingly, Cal Young was the namesake of the middle school my brothers, sister and I attended. The building we all attended the school in is gone now, replaced by a brand new, modern building. But as a side note, I clearly remember places in that old building that made me chilly to the bone. I always thought it was just a drafty old barn of a building but I've been in older buildings than that and was far more comfortable. It was not a nice feeling and I never bothered to ask that question when I was there (I was just a kid).
To summarize, the area is rife with history - and hauntings. I suppose that's why my father might not have found it so intimidating to return to the house and office where he'd lived the last 20 years or so of his life. He had neighbors.
The disturbances started right away.
Even the day after he died, I saw things I could not explain. I went into his office to see what needed to be done and the first thing that happened was the fax machine jammed. I thought, "I don't need the office equipment going gunny bags right now." It had been in perfect working order two days earlier - the day before Dad died. No one had been in the office since I had locked the doors two days earlier. The copy machine and the coffee maker had also been in perfect working condition. The copy machine also jammed and the coffee maker wouldn't brew. I had to pour another pot of water into the machine but... What happened to the water I had already poured in it? When I went to look into the machine to see why the water I'd poured in it wasn't being fed through to make the coffee, there was no water. The counter, cabinets and floor were completely dry. The carafe was empty. I could not figure it out. On the second pot of water, the coffee brewed normally. Where did the water go?
Two or three months passed in which I tried to get on with my life. Then, in the spring, I began to notice things in my apartment. My father had been an enthusiastic collector of electronic toys and gadgets, especially stereo and video equipment and computer stuff. Those were the things that began acting up. I found it hard to believe that electronics bought at various times and all in perfect working condition could just suddenly start having problems all at the same time. I looked for shorts, spikes and surges and found none. The things had not been damaged in any way - until whatever disturbed them came along and it wasn't anything I could find. I was confounded also as to why brand new batteries (even lithium batteries) would suddenly go dead.
I even had lights switch on by themselves. That one I spent months trying to find a rational explanation for and couldn't. Once it was the ceiling fan in the dining room. At a friend's house, a portrait on top of a shelf went flying off and crashed to the floor while we were watching a movie.
Then there was the stuff that told me I possibly was being contacted by my father - or something else.
One night shortly after he died, I woke up and saw something at the foot of my bed. I focused my eyes to make sure I was seeing this right, and there was something that looked like a big ball of light and it looked like it had little comets shooting around it. I thought "no way am I seeing this." But I was and it must have decided it wanted to talk to me. It said "go back to sleep" and said my name. I recognized the voice and it was Dad. The odd thing was, when I heard Dad's voice, it sounded like it was coming from the side of my bed and not the foot of it. And Dad sounded like it was important that I go back to sleep. So I did.
The way I heard his voice, even when awake, was as if he were speaking in my mind, a little closer than just whispering in my ear. I sat up on my bed one night and had the bedroom door closed for whatever reason. I heard something in the kitchen. My cats were with me and there was no one else in the house. All the kitchen stuff was off. So I tried this calling with my mind. I did and I heard my father's voice very distinctly say my name in response in the very same way he spoke to me by my bed. Well, I was both startled and thinking, "No, this has to be wishful thinking." I also wasn't ready to believe it was my father since, as he was a fairly practical person, the idea of lingering on when it's time to get going didn't fit his personality.
But I realized with certainty that it wasn't wishful thinking and that things might just have changed given the circumstances. I believed it.
Then one night about four years after he died, I was house sitting for my family. This is the same house my father died in and the same house that is down the road from his former office and Dedrick Slough. I sat in the living room with my mother's cat that let's NOBODY pet her unless she wants something. For some reason, that cat wanted to be on my lap or being held at all times. The cat started this as soon as I got to the house. I had this urge to check the house and make sure no one was there as it should be empty. I had a niggling feeling someone was in there and I was prepared to run out if I had to. But there wasn't anyone in the house - or so I thought.
While the cat was using my lap for a napping perch, it got very quiet in the house. I remember thinking the silence was too silent. Then I heard it. Someone was walking down the hallway from the bedrooms. One of those bedrooms was the master bedroom where he had died. I heard the shoes, the kind of shoes he often wore because of his feet (diabetics often have poor circulation in their feet so they have to wear specific kinds of shoes), and it sounded like the casual walk he had affected in life. At first I utterly froze. I wasn't sure if I was prepared to face a ghost of anyone regardless of who they were, and I didn't know if I could handle the emotion of seeing him after so long and knowing he was dead. So I stayed put and tried not to faint.
After a few moments of speaking to him with my mind (he seemed to hear me but didn't answer), I sensed he was gone. I got up and went into the dining room where the entrance to the hall is. The cat went with me as she was determined not to be left alone. We stood and stared at the hallway, the cat bugging her eyes bigger than she usually does. She was absolutely still.
My own cats at home have done this. They will suddenly freeze and stare at something that isn't there. I can't divert their attention.
When these events started happening, I had no real spiritual or religious beliefs of any kind. My family was Lutheran and my father's funeral service was Lutheran (though he did not have a committal service as he was buried three days after the funeral and the pastor was not available to officiate at a Sunday burial). I had a casual belief in God but nothing serious. I didn't believe in ghosts or psychic phenomena, and I thought the tales of hauntings in the Eugene area were just fun urban legends. I tended to think hauntings could be explained by either wishful thinking or natural, rational phenomena.
However, I would never enter a cemetery at night and there were places I wouldn't go or didn't want to be and times I felt like I wasn't alone when I apparently was. I never understood my reactions that seemed to make no sense because if it was the dead I was afraid of, why was that? I managed to piece together that most of us are as afraid of our own mortality as we are curious about the prospect of immortality and left it at that. But then, not all hauntings are ghosts of people who have passed. Some are strictly spirits, even demons, who may or may not be the demon ghost of a person who is dead from what I've learned.
If that's so, perhaps the fear is that a ghost, spirit, demon or whatever it is more powerful than we are, being in a realm that far surpasses a human lifetime and is thought to be eternity. Perhaps our fear is that by virtue of their longer shelf life, they have knowledge we don't have and would not like to have. If it is a demon or angry ghost, are they capable of sucking us into some vortex or plane of existence that is more horrible than we can imagine? Or do we not want to end up like them - earthbound, haunting, restless and unsatisfied? Or is what we fear something else - the idea that these ghosts, deprived of something powerful and fleeting which is life, seek to rejoin human life through the living people they encounter? Possession is one way of doing it. If moving on into "the light" is the desired destination for a ghost in this world, then whatever's in it must be satisfying enough to dissuade a ghost from ever returning. But for the earthbound ghosts, the ones who stay, is part of their misery that they are no longer part of life? That's certainly feasible considering ghosts necessarily draw their energy from the living.
I do not know why my father returned but I'm sure he had his reasons. I got the impression that ghosts come when they want or need to and it's generally not a good idea to go calling them yourself unless you want to scare yourself stupid. Just like in life, in death people still have their own reasons for doing something. Perhaps someday, when my time comes, I'll know what was behind my haunting.