FINIS

Hi, guys. Finally, I’m back. Normally, my posts are specifically about the paranormal, ghost stories, ghost hunting information, and such, but today I want you to read a really touching story by my friend and fellow ghost chaser, Joanne Maio who recently lost her beloved–ghost-haunted–house to foreclosure. I just hope the new owners, who are away of the paranormal activity in the house, will find as much pleasure there as Joanne and her girls have. In the meanwhile, I hope some of her spirits, which she talked about in her book, STALKED BY SPIRITS follow her to her new home.

(Vivian Campbell is Joanne’s pen name.)

Finis
by Vivian Campbell on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 1:29pm •
The old house was naked. For the first time in over 83 years, it stood exposed, stripped of its’ costume of well-worn furniture and framed photos and children’s school schedules and burned toast and humanity. It had fought the bloody foreclosure execution with threats and pleas and temper tantrums. No amount of tossed plates and stair-stomping and shadowy wraiths could stop the banks. Greed has no empathy.

It didn’t matter how the change had happened. It just did. The last time the house had seen this was in 1928, when it watched its’ birth-family, the people who had built it out of the remnants of a receded, black-soil lake, forced out of its’ womb by money-hungry men whose dark suits paled only in contrast to their darker souls. The family couldn’t pay the street tax, so they were forced out into it.

The next twelve years morphed into a tangled hodgepodge of renovations and short-term tenants, often culminating in months of abandonment. Finally, in 1940, my grandmother walked in and turned the lonely house into a home; over eight decades later, her descendants were still embraced inside its rooms.

We always lived in the castle…until now.

I sat alone on the wooden landing that broke the middle of the twisted, three-leveled stairway. It was the heart of the house; the vortex. It was the invisible revolving door for our resident and visiting spirits; it was the lookout point for my golden retriever when he sat, lion-like, to survey the goings on of the house; it was the place where I sat when I needed to think.

How do you say good-bye?

A few weeks ago, I had waved the white flag and signed over my homestead to a private investor, who would hopefully short sell the house and save me from bankruptcy and foreclosure. There was no way to save my broken heart.

The house knew when I had given up the fight. For the past year, it had watched and felt my stubborn battle against the Big Brother Banks. The jig was up when I began raiding local liquor stores, not for their booze, but for their cardboard packing boxes. On the first day, every dusty book from our library room evaporated into the cardboard cluster. Three days later, my great-grandmother’s bone china was wrapped in newspaper and bubble wrap. Photo albums disappeared. Suitcases were jammed with clothing that would never return home again. The ghosts vehemently protested the abortion. Frying pans whisked through the air in the middle of the kitchen, in an effort to escape capture and moving box imprisonment. The stairs shook with angry stomps climbing up and down and up and down them. Not even visiting friends were spared:

“There was something standing at the top of the stairs, just now! I saw it!”

“What happened to that black cat that just ran in through the front door and disappeared in the boxes? No, it didn’t climb into the box; it freakin’ disappeared into the side of the box!”

“Oh, my gosh. I swear I just saw a WOLF standing in the doorway! It was there just a second …”

The biggest kicks happened to my older daughter, Erin, as she packed her room. One night she heard a sound like something sliding across the hardwood floor. Turned out to be one of her toys, a stuffed cat, which was flopping its little kitty arms and writhing like a ballistic zombie … all by itself. The next night, Erin heard scuttling coming from her dresser, on which she had placed seven empty horseshoe crab shells that we had found over a year ago. The crafty little things were moving all over the top of her dresser, just as if they were alive. Somebody forgot to remind them that they were dead.

Boo.

Despite the ghosts’ spookiest efforts to thwart the move, the rented Hertz van appeared. The wraiths watched in helpless agony as my daughters and I loaded furniture and boxes like frantic passengers escaping the Titanic. All through the day, Erin saw shadow people marching on my heels, mimicking my determination as I marched in and out of the house and cavernous back of the van. One time, I walked up behind Erin and asked her if she had a big marker with which I could mark another box. She jumped, whirled around to face me and exclaimed, “You’re behind me!”

I stared in confusion at my daughter. “Uh… yeah…”

“Mom, I just saw YOU walk out that open front door, like, a second ago!”

I had been upstairs for the past five minutes.

Packing up five generations of my family’s legacy was emotional water boarding. The house and I gasped for breath together.

One Sunday, it happened. The house and I were suddenly alone. Not a speck of furniture or boxes remained; only dust and memories. The investor and his renovation crew had kindly elected to leave the house early that day, purposefully leaving me alone to say good bye. I was grateful. It needed to be done. But, how ….?

So, there I sat on the stairs, just me and my spooky old house. It was time for me to cut the umbilical cord, at least physically. I had already baptized the place with three hours of tears. I walked from empty room to empty room, retelling tales from each. I spoke the names of every, single person that I could think of associated with the house, beginning with my grandmother. My epitaph had begun mid-afternoon, as the Florida sunlight was still streaming in. My house listened. It shared my sorrow. It wasn’t even angry … not with me, at least. When I was in the hurricane’s eye of my tears, I wandered upstairs to find the bathroom light switched on. I smiled. The house understood.

Now, I sat silently on the stairs. My stairs. Afternoon became early evening. The sun sank and the shadows lengthened. The quiet began to disappear. I felt the house’s demeanor change from empathetic friend to serial killer patience. It was waiting; a monster ready to snap at the next bug of a human who crossed its enchanted threshold. By the time darkness had completely engulfed the house, even I couldn’t stand to remain there any longer, even though it posed no threat to me. I had been one of its three matriarchs, along with my grandmother and the woman who originally built the house in 1927. The house respected me. We were entwined. The next residents would have to pass its test.

I walked to the open front door, inserted my key into its lock for the last time, then turned back toward the mass of empty, breathing rooms that had been my forever home.

“I love you. Good bye.”

I shut the door and walked away. Part of my heart stayed with my house. It will always be there.

3 Responses to “FINIS”

  1. Dave this breaks my heart…… bless you Jo.

    • Hey there, Denean. Good to hear from you. I have really been neglecting my site. Concerning Finis, yes, it’s very sad, especially because her ex took her to the cleaners. I drive by the place often, and it looks so forlorn and lonely.

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