Happy Halloween! Want to hear a ghost story?

My house has one. A spirit, that is … at least I hope so.


That’s because the alternative is even more scary — that I’m now a victim of age-associated memory impairment, which, according to those internet experts, affects nearly 40% of people over age 65.

That’s why I’m going with a poltergeist, who I must quickly explain, is not malevolent. Just annoying. Frustrating. And getting rather expensive.


His greatest trick was one he pulled early in our relationship, perhaps to get my attention since I, like most folks, tend to love tales about ghosts but don’t necessarily believe they exist.

It happened not long after we moved into my current home, purchased a decade ago in foreclosure and, at the time, looking more like a haunted house than a haven for a family of six.

While removing my contact lenses one evening after work, one slipped from my finger and fell onto the floor or bathroom counter. Happens all the time in my many years of wearing them. And after searching the upstairs bath and adjoining bedroom for a good hour, I gave up and ordered a replacement, chalking it up to yet another lost contact.

No big deal. Until I found the missing lens a few months later — laying smack dab in the middle of the kitchen table — a surface that had been wiped down at least 100 times since the contact had gone missing.

Interrogations followed but no one in the household had found it and put it there. Still, I figured it was just one of those unexplained shoulder shrugs in life, until it kept happening again and again.

To a bracelet that slipped from my hand while taking it from bathroom to bedroom and didn’t show up until months later, in the middle of a dresser that had been dusted many times in between.

Then there was my American Express card that went missing from the counter after I’d ordered pizza and was later discovered tucked inside the pages of a Time magazine which was located at the bottom of an old magazine rack I’d not used for years.

Most frustrating of all was the pair of lost designer eyeglasses that suddenly appeared in the middle of the couch I’d gone over with a fine tooth comb weeks earlier in my many months of searching for them.

Those same glasses went AWOL again about seven months later, only this time, no matter how many times I tore apart the house (not to mention car and garage) they never reappeared.

Nor did my big fluffy towel that one night was hanging on a shower rack and the next day was gone. Or, most recently, a favorite pair of black ankle boots that vanished from the shoe shelf in my closet last Christmas.

One thing I must make perfectly clear: while the home is big, it is neither cluttered nor disorderly. So you can probably guess how frustrated I’ve become after spending so many fruitless hours searching for these items, most of which go missing from the bedroom/bathroom area.

Do I really think there is a poltergeist in my home, driving me nuts — and to tears — at times?


A friend, who has a growing resume as a medium, informed me there is “most definitely” a spirit, imported into the house, perhaps through one of the fireplaces. And, she added, the poltergeist is so attached to the family, he only starts “creating mischief” when we talk about downsizing now that the kids are all gone.

Granted, I also have friends who, after hearing my ghost stories, look at me like I need a long vacation, then politely remind me I have a lot going on in my life — and my head — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being scatter-brained.

There are indeed times I will start to blame the ghost, only to retrace my steps and find a missing item just where I left or dropped it. But there are also too many oddities, my friend assures me, to rationalize all the disappearing acts.

I broached this topic with Daren Marks, co-founder of the Aurora Illinois Paranormal Investigators, who for the past half dozen years has been going into homes and businesses free of charge when owners want an answer to some of the unexplained things taking place. This Saturday, he told me, he and his seven-member technology team will be taking on the ghosts supposedly doing a little haunting at a winery in St. Charles.

Noises. Shadow movements. Blasts of icy air. He’s dealt with ‘em all, although there are times, he admits, where these “investigations can be as dead as a door nail” because the spirits don’t feel like communicating.

So how often, I asked, are those efforts a bust because you find out it’s really a case of mind over paranormal matter?

“It can happen,” Marek said, referring to a Schaumburg case where his team was called in after a woman reported “seeing glass in her mayonnaise.” Turned out, 911 was called up, rather than any spirits, and eventually the woman was admitted to a mental health facility.

No, he was not suggesting that’s where I should go after I told him about all my missing items.

Spirits are in most homes, both Marek and my medium friend agree. But each case can be as different as the reasons a deceased person doesn’t want to cross over from this life to the next.

For a while we thought our Casper was making himself known in more obvious ways than lifting stuff, until we figured out all those strange late night sounds were really just squirrels in the attic.

Of course we might still be talking about bats in the belfry. But until I get a medical diagnosis of brain impairment from someone other than my amused children, I’m taking an approach that’s a little more spirited … and certainly less frightening.


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