Right. So, we started to pack up to ship out. The haunted house had won.
Well, it wasn’t as much the weird happenings as much as the whole thing about my mom living her last days and dying in our house. The latter factor was a big one as we didn’t want to continue to watch TV in the same room she had died in and, since it wasn’t a giant house, we couldn’t just avoid that room or the entire first floor.
So we put our house on the market and made plans to move to Pittsburgh.
Why Pittsburgh? Have you been to Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh is awesome.
Aw remember GRASS?😭 Sorry. We don't have a yard. Quarantine is taking its toll. Anyways. Back to the story:
After a year of failing to acquire a job anywhere in the world in the year following my mom’s death, I felt a bit “fuck this” and we decided to use the money from our house sale to support our plan to open a community art space in Pittsburgh.
Therefore, as we prepared to stage our Wisconsin house for the sale so we could move to Pennsylvania, I was forced to go through all these boxes and file folders I had ignored since my dad had died two years previous.
I really didn’t want to go through all that stuff.
And when I came upon this musical hula girl my parents had brought back for me from a vacation it caused to me remember the musical hula girl for the first time since I was a kid, and I completely lost it.
It was too much. It was all “I (sob) LOVE THAT HULA GIRL HOW (sob) COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN MY HULA GIRL (sob) I (sob) LOVE HER OH MY GOD (sustained sob).”
Oh grief and trauma.
But the house wasn’t going to pack itself.
Though, maybe if I had sat down with the ghosts, something could have been arranged. The ghosts looked like they could use some kind of project what with all their random door-opening, pacing and staring.
In any case, my husband David was at work and I, the unemployed one, was left to pack up the house and go through all that remained from my family and former life.
I finished going through the boxes which had been stacked in the third bedroom upstairs and then moved downstairs to go through those boxes and to also pack up the Halloween stuff which was stored in a closet under the basement stairs.
I was happy to focus on sorting through the Halloween stuff. It was a nice change of pace.
However, part of this task involved also taking down the Halloween and holiday stuff that was still up.
But, since we were moving, I needed to get organized and the Halloween and Christmas stuff needed to be separated, consolidated and packed.
The goal was to get all the Halloween stuff into one big box.
So I was kneeling on the basement floor, happily humming to myself, enjoying the progress I was making untangling a string of orange lights when suddenly the Halloween box seemed to come alive with light.
I clutched the string of lights in my hand and sat back, confused and a little terrified, because, suddenly, there was a flashing, super bright, white light coming from something inside the sparsely filled Halloween box.
And I just froze and watched the unexpected light cast shadows on the basement ceiling and walls.
After a short time I shrugged off the shock and slowly leaned forward to see what was causing this. I was intimately aware of all our Halloween stuff and I knew for a fact that none of it “flashed.”
I was genuinely freaked out and expected to see, who the fuck even knows… a fairy with twinkle lights dancing around in the bottom of the box? I had no idea. At that point, I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised.
I peered into the box.
And I saw that the light source was my mom’s witch hat headband.
I blinked in surprise.
I had bought that headband for my mom at Walgreens a couple Octobers ago as she had always been a huge fan of Halloween.
Both of my parents got a bit fanatical about Halloween.
Yet, given my mom’s fragile condition, I had needed to find something simple and easy for a costume. So, when I saw the cute little witch hat headband, I felt I had found my solution.
A black wig, the hat and… Mom loved it and she was adorable.
However, I had no idea that the hat had a light show. No one did.
That hat had been handed around for months and worn temporarily by hospice caregivers, my husband and our mastiff Hemi and it never seemed to be anything more than a festive headband.
So, when I saw that that headband could light up and flash and twinkle, I was stunned.
Not to mention I hadn’t even been touching the headband when it started to go batshit crazy.
It was all… surprising.
Eventually, I leaned in to pick up the headband and examine it. Yet, I couldn’t figure out how it worked as it didn’t have batteries or seem to have a switch or any mechanism to turn the lights on or off.
So then I just held the flashing headband in my hands until it eventually turned off by itself.
Since I was a crazy bereaved person, I couldn’t help but hope it was my mom. She had entered the afterlife and had been bestowed with understanding about how everything works and that’s when she learned that her Walgreens witch headband had a built-in light show.
Granted, that sounded like a stretch but… I didn’t care.
And, consequently, I carried that headband around with me for a few weeks. My plan to keep all the Halloween shit together had failed in its inception.
I slept with the headband and it would, out of nowhere, start flashing and… well, I didn’t mind.
It was the final unexplained event to happen in our Madison house and it was one which I very much enjoyed. 🖤
A few months passed and we found buyers for our house.
We packed up everything to donate and made multiple runs to the nearby Goodwill. We felt that they would have to add on a wing for the sheer quantity of stuff we donated.
Included in this donated bounty was the oval mirror which had weirdly been included with our house purchase five years previous.
That’s right. We donated it.
I have no idea what the back story to the mirror was or why the previous owners had left it hanging on the entry wall. All I know is it had freaked us and our friends and the hospice staff out so badly it was time for the mirror to find a new home.
We didn’t feel obligated to disclose our house was haunted to our buyers but we weren’t going to hand them a house that came with a creepy mirror which we and a group of others felt was haunted.
As we drove away from the North Side Goodwill, I said a small prayer for it and, for a short time afterwards, I’d skim the local news headlines for any word of some terrible disaster or tragedy which had happened at that Goodwill since we donated the mirror.
I never heard anything.
And, just like that, our house was polished and staged. It was as if we had never lived there and nothing had ever happened within its walls.
We didn’t know what had happened inside our house in the previous century which preceded our purchase, and we didn’t hand over a book of stories for the new owners, but, on its surface, the house sure cleaned up well.
And that’s all that mattered.
Thanks to the help of family and friends, we packed up the moving van and moved to Pittsburgh where our plans failed and where we rented a rowhouse that had shadow people and made the activity at our Madison home seem warm and friendly.
Our Pittsburgh rental was just straight-up haunted. If you didn’t know and care to know more, check out the blog I wrote about it:
In any case, it’s amazing to think of all that happens in various physical spaces and in each individual life.
It’s boggling to reflect on how quickly our lives pass by and how much life-altering change can happen in such a short amount of time.
That’s why, no matter what’s happening, I find comfort in knowing it can always get worse which helps me to maintain perspective.
Because, no matter what, it’s over in a blink of the eye.
So it’s important to always be kind. 🖤
We have no idea what ghosts linger.