True Mystical Experience
by Dianne Lawson
It was November 1980, and I was unpacking dishes in the kitchen of our new house when I thought I heard adult voices in the living room. Knowing my three children and I were alone in the house, I wondered who the kids had let in. I went into the living room and found the room empty.
All three of my kids were in their respective rooms, with no adults in sight. I must have heard noises of adults talking from outside the house, I concluded. The neighboring houses were closer to my new home than any other houses I had lived in recently. Maybe the neighbors were in their yards, and their voices sounded like they were in our house.
Several times the next day, I again thought I heard a man and a woman talking in my house. When I went to find where the voices were coming from, I could never figure it out. The voices would stop. I looked outside to see if I could see anyone, but no one was there.
We had just moved in and I was not yet used to the noises in my new house, I told myself.
As most parents do, every night just before I went to bed, I always checked to make sure my children Stacy (age 12), Josh (age 4), and Brian (age 2) were in bed and covered. The second night we were in the house, I went to check on the kids. They were all asleep, but when I went to pull up the covers on Josh, I saw a very large butcher knife lying under his neck. Horrified, I lifted his head and neck up and removed the knife. It looked as if he had put the knife under his pillow and it had worked its way out from under the pillow to just under his neck. He did not have any cuts on him, but I wondered what might have happened to him later during the night if I had not removed the knife.
The next morning I asked Josh why he had put the knife under his pillow, but he would not respond. My instincts told me he put the knife under his pillow to protect himself—but from what or whom?
The third day in the house, I came home from work to fix myself lunch. Having earlier driven Stacy to school and Josh and Brian to the babysitter’s, I knew I was alone in the house. I ran upstairs to Stacy’s bedroom to grab some papers I had left in her room, and then came downstairs and opened the refrigerator to see what I could find for lunch.
Suddenly, someone stomped loudly across the floor in Stacy’s room, directly above the kitchen. This was not a “someone-is-walking-across-the-floor” noise, but a loud, “I-am-stomping-as-loudly-as-I-can-to-make-sure-that-you-can-hear-me-stomping!” noise.
Shaken, I decided that I did not need lunch after all that day and went back to work hungry.
That evening, I gathered my children and my ex-husband, who had been helping us move in, and asked, “Has anyone heard or seen anything unusual about this house?”
Stacy started by saying, “I hear people’s voices and coughing all the time. When I go and look, no one is there.”
Craig, my ex-husband, told of when he was staying at the house late to help unpack and was the only one awake. He was sure he had heard Stacy walk down the stairs from her bedroom, walk through the living room, dining room, and hallway, and then downstairs to the basement. Wondering what she would be doing up at that hour, he had followed what he had thought were her footsteps. When he had arrived at the basement stairs, the hook-and-eye closure was locked. Puzzled, he had reasoned that the hook must have swung up and locked itself. When he had opened the basement door, he saw that no lights were on. He had been so convinced that he had heard her go downstairs that he had gone and checked the basement. She had not been there. He had gone back upstairs and found her asleep in her bed.
Josh would not answer our questions.
Brian said he had been talking to Sue and Dan, who, he said, “live in our attic.” He said he liked to talk to his new friends.
Since the director of the local School of Metaphysics was a friend of mine, I asked her to come over and give me advice. What should one do about living in an apparently haunted house?
The director told me that people on the physical plane were stronger than were those on the astral plane. If I ordered the ghosts out of my house, they would have to leave.
I stood in the middle of my living room floor and loudly said, “I bought this house for my kids and me to live in. I do not want anyone else to live here with us. I want you to move out!”
I heard no voices in the house after that. A couple of days later, however, Stacy told me that she had heard voices again.
Again, I ordered the ghosts to leave. That was the last any of us heard the voices.
We lived in that house for four years. When we moved out and I was walking down the stairs from Stacy’s bedroom, I strongly felt that the ghosts were moving back in. I felt their anger and their impatience to have me leave. The feeling was so strong that I grabbed the railing to the stairs and held on tightly, feeling as if someone might push me down the stairs.
Years later, when I was starting a new job as a social worker for Catholic Community Services, another social worker was giving me a tour of the building. She said that many employees were convinced that a nun who had lived in the building when it was a nunnery was haunting the building. There were reports of knocking on doors, doors closing by themselves, and strange moving of items.
At a going-away party for me at the job I was leaving, I mentioned to the five other people who were sitting at my table that my new office building was supposed to be haunted. All five of the people sitting at my table said they believed that they were then living, or in the past had lived, in a haunted house. The most interesting story was from a social worker who believed that she frequently heard children crying in her house. Her research indicated that children had died in a fire in her house.
I had worked with these people for two years and had never known they believed in ghosts. Perhaps many people do not talk about the subject because they think that others will consider them crazy. I wondered how common it was for people to have experiences that they believed were ghostly visitors.
This luncheon gave me courage to call the person who currently lived in my old house. I coincidentally found her number in the phone book when I was looking up my husband’s name to see if it was listed in the book correctly. Directly under my husband’s name was the name and phone number of the woman who was living in my old house.
I held my breath and made the call. I remember the conversation clearly. I said, “Hello, this is Dianne Lawson. I used to live in your house from 1980 until 1984. I was wondering if you have noticed anything unusual about your house?”
There was a long pause. She said, “I am so glad you called. My children and I are living with ghosts. It is against my religion and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it.”
She went on to tell me that she and her children were experiencing exactly what my children and I had gone through. She also said that when she was on the computer, she would feel the ghosts’ presences and see someone out of the corner of her eye. When she would turn to look, there would be nothing there. She assured me that it was not her imagination. She felt certain ghosts were near her.
Talking to the new owner made me want to find out if a Sue and a Dan had ever lived in the house, as two-year-old Brian had believed years before. My husband and I went to the public library and looked at many city directories between 1903 and 1980. We found that two women named Susan had lived in that house. We also found a man named Dan who had the same unusual last name as one of the Susans and may have been related to her.
A husband and wife named James E. and Susan L. Rosetta lived in the house from 1970 until 1975.
A woman called Sue, Susie, or Susan Downey (sometimes spelled Downie) lived in the house from 1924 until 1969, first with her parents and then by herself.
When Sue had lived in the house, she had been a clerk. The current owner of the house believes that a ghost hangs around her whenever she is on the computer. Is Sue interested in the new invention that makes being a clerk easier?
A man with the last name of Downie lived in town from 1912 until 1926. Could he have been related to Susan Downie?
Did I misinterpret what my two-year-old son said when I thought he said Dan? Could he have been saying Downie or Down? Could Sue’s father have been called one of those names?
Skeptics may not be impressed, but I think it is intriguing that we did find two women with the name Sue.
I do not know who was in the house when we lived there, but I do know that whoever they were, they made their presences known to eight people, independently of one another, over a 20-year period.-Topeka, Kans.