*This is part three of my three-part series about growing up in a haunted estate in Northern Virginia, used as a hospital during the Civil War by both North and the South at various times. For prior installments go to these links LINK1 LINK2
We all missed the estate. My siblings were mostly married, but two of them came to live in Arizona too. We talked often about our longing to be back east again. And, during those talks, we each vowed to haunt the estate when we passed on.
In 1979, father had a heart attack in our kitchen. Paramedics pronounced he had passed. As we sobbed in each other's arms, they were able to bring him back four minutes later with the paddles.
As they wheeled him out, father had an angelic boyish smile on his face. He looked so good. He gestured to me and I came to him. He said "I was at a fjord. It was so beautiful. Mama and papa were there and Tante Walborg." (all relatives who had passed and father was from Norway where he loved the fjords). "There were flowers that don't exist and colors that don't exist here."
They started to wheel him away again and he gestured. I leaned over and he whispered like it was a secret, "that was the REAL world. This one is FAKE."
A few days later, he passed during the night, but during those days in the hospital, he said we would find him at the estate. I didn't want him to give up and move on, but doctors knew he couldn't continue.
The night he died, I felt someone tugging my big toe like father used to do when he came home from business trips to show me that he arrived safely. I looked up to see his silhouette. I thought it was home from the hospital, but the phone rang. The hospital had called to tell us he passed.
I knew then that he would be back at the estate as he said.
A few weeks later, the people who owned the estate were talking to my mom on the phone and mentioned they saw my father in their yard when they were busy having a party. They meant to talk to him, but then he was gone.
They described him wearing a blue suit and striped tie (his traveling outfit we buried him in). The thing was, father had been dead for weeks when they saw him!
In 1998, my mother succumbed to her emphysema at the age of 74. We five siblings sat at her side the week it took for her to finally move from a coma state to her final breath. But, days before she passed, I looked up from nodding off to see a sparkling light beside her bed. Her face, frozen in grimace, suddenly relaxed. I knew then that father had come for her.
In 2001, my brother Scott passed away. Just before that we had all reaffirmed our vow to haunt the estate.
When I was in the hospital with him before he passed, he came in and out of consciousness. When he awakened he took my hand and told me "I was flying around the estate!"
I blinked as he smiled that boyish joyous smile father had when he was brought back to life by the paddles.
"I saw cousin Mah-Moo." Our cousin Matthew (we called him Mah-Moo) had passed away a few years earlier.
"And I flew around the estate, there was a tennis court."
Days later, my brother passed. And what he said was true. The owners of the estate had indeed added a tennis court!
I went on to start Ghost Hunting Theories as an outlet to explore and begin conversations about the way in which hauntings occur and keeping an open mind to any explanations. I also joined a team that would come to be called "Arizona Paranormal Research" to exclusively perform experiments and testing to look for instigating factors, alleviating factors, repeatability, and patterns.
But, in all my research, my mind is never far from the puzzle of the family pact, my childhood estate and the way in which souls express themselves.
After my family moved away from the estate, a decade or so later, a contractor bought it hoping to tear it down and put up condos. He met resistance due to the historic importance of the estate, so he had to keep the mansion and the front boxwood maze intact. He viciously and without consideration for historic relics in the ground, dug up the outbuildings and orchard, other boxwood maze and creek, to build condos all around it.
Recently, some people living in one of the condos contacted me with some weird happenings that correlated with the history in that spot on the property. But, what was more interesting was that an adolescent boy living in the condo and his friend saw a woman in white ghost in the front boxwood maze. When they told his mother about it, they flipped through my book "Growing Up With Ghosts" and stopped at a photo and pointed. "That's the lady!" It was my sister Tina.
Interestingly, Tina had said she would haunt the boxwood maze. She had her wedding reception there long ago, but more importantly she liked to sit there and watch the deer arrive at sunset to graze.
On a trip back to the estate in 2014, I was standing out by the boxwood maze when a deer in the middle of the daytime came over and stared at me. The interaction was so odd that I felt my eyes misting up. The eyes, they looked like my sister's. I shook my head, not able to believe what I was seeing. The deer came nearer and studied me a few minutes before dancing off into the field nearby.
When I was growing up, my mother sat in a chair in the corner of the front room with her books and papers strewn out around her on the floor. She was uncovering the history of the estate and passionate about it. When I came back in 2014, I went that corner she was going to haunt. I took a photo. Nothing. Then, I said my nickname for her, "Moo," and took another picture -
Are they still there? I like to think of souls as not being necessarily one entity as we think of in our mortal world - one body, one location. Being a sort of universal energy, the soul can reflect itself everywhere it wishes to be simultaneously and through all time.
That being said, you might just be haunting yourself right now when you hear that tiny nagging voice telling you to right instead of left....