Do you believe in ghosts?
It’s easy to be skeptical when we’re sitting in the daylight — with our modern technology close at hand — to scoff at the existence of afterworld visitors. Much of the history of supernatural beliefs is rooted in ancient days of superstition.
But others who sit in that same chair when darkness falls believe the barrier between life and death seems much thinner. Things that go bump in the night could be signs from the afterlife. Forty-five percent of adults in a Huffington Post/YouGov poll said they believe in ghosts; 28 percent said they had seen a ghost.
Find a comfortable spot and turn the light on. The days are growing shorter. The winds rattle dry leaves. The earth is preparing for the long sleep of winter.
I’ve never seen a ghost, but I’ve had at least one experience I cannot explain. My wife, Sherry, is much more sensitive to the supernatural. She grew up in an old farmhouse and had many strange and some frightening experiences. She once saw a full-body apparition of a young boy who then crouched behind a bed and disappeared. Another more frightening time, she woke to the feeling of being strangled.
When we were dating in high school, we went to her house after school. Sherry was in the bathroom and I was sitting on the living room couch. I clearly heard someone walking up the stairs; I figured one of her brothers or sisters was already home. Sherry asked me if I was upstairs because she also heard the walking. There was no one else in the house.
Our farmhouse dates to 1925 when my great-grandparents built it. My Great-aunt Sara lived here until the day she died in 2004. She often heard sounds in the house and thought she was not alone, she confided to my mother.
On the night Aunt Sara died, we were in bed in our house in West Salem. Sherry saw a sparkling orb of energy that moved around the ceiling of the room before disappearing. A few minutes later my parents called with news that Aunt Sara had died. Sherry had a similar experience recently upon the passing of another relative.
Later that year, we started spending weekends in Aunt Sara’s house, which we started to remodel before moving there in 2006. One night while sleeping upstairs Sherry felt a presence sit on the end of the bed.
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Another early Sunday morning I was drinking coffee sitting on a couch in the living room; Sherry was curled in the fetal position on the other couch. She suddenly felt someone sit next to her and sensed a warm touch on her back. Could it have been Aunt Sara just checking in?
It’s said that remodeling projects often spark supernatural activity because former residents are stirred by the activity. In 2006, we started a major renovation project with an addition so we could open a bed and breakfast. I had a dream that Aunt Sara came to me and said my great-grandmother approved of what we were doing.
In 2007, we had a fascinating couple check in. Sherry said it looked like the woman was distracted, her eyes darting around as the couple was shown around the house.
A few minutes later the husband came down the stairs and asked us, “Is your house haunted?”
It turned out his wife is a psychic. She said she had an encounter with a spirit she described as sad, who wanted her to know that this was still her house. We suspect it was my Great-grandmother Hilda who suffered greatly from cancer the last few months of her life before dying in the house.
Things have been quiet for the past eight or nine years. Apparently the spirits were not upset about the fact that we built another addition five years ago to open a winery.
One night this past week, I was taking photos of Halloween decorations around the inn. One photo was taken in the corner next to my great-great-grandmother’s china hutch — a piece that was given to us by Aunt Sara and has been in that same corner for decades.
The photo shows a white beam projecting up at about 45 degrees from the bottom of the hutch before disappearing. I did not see that when I took the photo, which was taken with an iPhone 8 with a flash. The photo appears with this column and, with the exception of brightness, has not been edited.
Of course it could simply be that I captured a reflection of the flash bouncing off the glass on the hutch or there was piece of debris on the lens. I have since taken multiple photos with the same camera from the same angle at the same time of day but have been unable to replicate the beam. Most light beams that show in a digital camera because of a pixel issue are completely vertical, not 45 degrees.
There could be a rational explanation for the photo. Or perhaps it was a visual reminder that there some things in this world we simply can’t explain.
Former Tribune editor Chris Hardie and his wife, Sherry, raise sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens on his great-grandparents’ Jackson County farm.