I had a friend once tell me I'm a ghost magnet. Do I believe that? I dunno, all I know is that when something gets my attention I tend to pay attention. I drive people crazy because everything catches my attention, and no matter how insignificant it is, I have to mess with it. Bugs, toys, shiny scraps in the gutter; I think maybe I'm part magpie. As a result of this I have sometimes noticed when things in my living environment have been a little.. off.
It seems to be a family thing, at least on my mom's side. See, you have to understand my maternal genetic material: my mother has eleven brothers and sisters, and of the twelve, there are three sets of twins. So you know, Grandma only MEANT to have nine. Mom is a twin. I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to have twins (mostly out of karmic retribution; I do the "ha ha, you got TWO babies in there" dance every time a sister or sister in law gets knocked up.) Simply put, that side of my family is a touch spooky at times. My cousin D.C. swears to God he saw a big foot. Normally we'd just make fun of him and tell him he was full of pot/ shit (in fact.. we did do that.) but whenever someone would talk about it, he would get pale and sweaty, and not want to talk about it. Whatever he saw scared him badly, and Grandma's old place wasn't far from where the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film was shot back in the 1960's. Is that film legit? Fuck if I know chief, and really, I don't care. But another story that was told at family get togethers was about the big Cat tractors that were all tipped over one night, in a clearing up in the redwoods, again, not far my my grandmother's house. These tractors are probably half a ton or more in weight, and all around them were gigantic footprint, and the only vehicle tracks were from the night before. Is this true? I have no idea. But when you're sitting around a campfire with a million cousins, high in the Red Woods, it really doesn't matter how true it is in the daylight. I promise, you'll believe it at night.
One of my afore-mentioned aunts, Peggy, died before I was born. She was in a car accident, and then died in her sleep that night. Her twin, my aunt Penny, found her, if my memory is correct. (EDIT: My memory is NOT correct; she drowned after losing control of her car and veering into Willow Creek. Her friend survived, but was paralyzed from the waist down. Peggy drowned, something about a heavy sweater.) According to family legend, she haunted my grandmother's house. Grandma's house would have been creep regardless; she lived several miles up Kneeland mountain, in a ramshackle home smack in the middle of the Red Wood forest, as I have mentioned several times. It was a three bedroom house that housed fourteen people: my grandparents, nine daughters, and three sons. Because of the location, night doesn't fall up there, it crashes. There are no street lights, etc. You can clearly see the stars up there, or at least you could a few years ago. The house was also a touch dilapidated when I was a kid-- peeling paint, rusting cars, rotting lumber, the whole look, all of it being swallowed by blackberries and ferns. Inside the house was a nightmare of clutter-- my grandmother didn't like to throw anything away, including food, but that's a horror story for another time. Stacks of magazines on every surface, all over the floor, broken down couches and chairs covered by afghans, pictures all over the walls, and a blanket hung over the entrance to the hallway, to keep the house warm; for a long time I'm pretty sure the house was only heated by the little pot-bellied wood stove in the front room. The blanket was creepy; it was electric purple, and had singed holes int he middle that looked exactly like eyes were peering out at you from something hidden in the hallway.
My siblings and cousins all lived with Grandma on and off, sponging off of her and getting stoned. This is Humbolt County; getting stoned there in an everyday activity, really. At one point my older brother and his wife lived there. My sister-in-law told me that it was a really spooky place to be at night. She said she constantly heard noises, and their two dogs Nick and Bull, would bark at nothing, or lay and track things through the air, things that weren't there.
According to my family members, it's Peggy, watching over us.
My older sister also lived with our grandmother, for a time. She was still smoking, and it drove her crazy because her cigarettes would constantly go missing. It wasn't Grandma taking my sister's coffin nails; Grandma didn't care if anyone smoked. We liked going to Grandma's when we were underaged because she always let us drink up there. She has admitted to smoking pot, even. When I asked my sisters if she thought it was Grandma, my sister scoffed, and then said that she even asked Grandma, to be sure. Grandma's response? "No love, it was probably Peggy." Then our grandmother would go back to reading whatever it was at the moment. (Grandma will try to read while driving. I think I get my biblio lust from her.) Mag said she would usually then find her cigarettes in the closet of what had been the girls' bedroom, up on the top shelf, and shoved all the way into the back. My sister is a very no nonsense, type A kind of person, and she told me that the feeling she would get hen she found her nicotine tubes was a sensation of disapproval, like someone was silently telling her "These aren't good for you!" Mag was young when Peggy died, and spent a lot of time with her.
The last story of the moment comes from my uncle Steve, Peggy's brother, of course. Steve got drunk, something he did a lot, and stole a bunch of postal flags. He then took them up the hill, as he was living with Grandma at the time. He had pinned all of the flags up all around his room (the boys' room, originally), and was glad to be done, or so he said, as his arms were aching a bit from having them up over his head. Then, one by one, they fell off the wall, one after the other. It was a very playful kind of thing, but it scared the hell out of Steve, and I don't know that he ever slept in there again.
Through it all, Grandma has been fine with the idea of Peggy haunting us-- I'm sure most mothers would be that way. She was very young when she died-- I don't think she was even thirty or if she was it was not by much. She also had small children, another incentive to hang around. But I think it comforts Grandma, that Peggy pops in every now and again, and looks in on us.
There are other stories about this-- allegedly there was a phantom dog, too, the remnant of a former pet who ran under a burning porch, and no one was able to get him out in time. My cousin Lisa even claimed that the Ouija board told Peggy she as going to die, and it also told Lisa the same thing. I asked my sister about that and she shot it full of holes. Since the board allegedly told Lisa she was going to die before thirty-five and she's now over forty, I think I agree with my sister. Honestly, the real story s creepy and sad enough on it's own, don't you think?