Part One: In The Beginning
By Wendy Callahan
Several weeks ago, I introduced you to our home, The Thompson House. It’s a great Greek Revival farmhouse that was built in 1853 by a man who later fought and died in the War of the Northern Aggression. We have been lucky enough to find out who lived in the home, including William Marcellus Thompson, the man who built it, his wife, children, house slaves and those that came after. What we don’t know for sure is who from that group is still around.
It didn’t take long after moving in for us to realize we weren’t alone. We actually had a suspicion before we ever brought in the first piece of furniture. My husband, Chris, and I would go to the house and do some work in the yard on the weekends, while we waited for kitchen renovations and painting to be complete, sometimes spending the night on an inflatable air mattress and having take out for dinner at a fold up card table. On a few of those early nights, I felt like I would see little tiny fireworks out of the corner of my eyes. Just like the real thing on the 4th of July, but 1/1000thscale – small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. Tiny little explosions of light over and over again, but only in our dining room. I asked Chris if he could see them too, but he couldn’t, so I chalked it up to being tired from a long day in the yard and we would head off to bed.
About six weeks after we took possession, with the renovations complete, we were busy unpacking our belongings and getting settled into the house. One night, while loading up a cabinet in the kitchen with our plates and glasses, Chris had just brought me an armload of plates and headed back into the adjacent dining room to make his way through yet another box, while I put the pieces he’d just handed me away.
But as I turned to stack plates onto a shelf in a soaker-log cabinet, I felt someone rubbing my back, ever so sweetly and gently, like your mother would do to calm you down as a child. I immediately thought it was Chris – this was the first home we’d purchased together and I wondered if he was feeling nostalgic. But hadn’t I just watched him walk into the other room? There wasn’t time for him to walk back to me quickly enough to have reached me and patted my back and then escape back to the dining room by the time I turned around. My mind was racing a million miles a minute. Confused how anyone could move that fast short of teleportation, I put down the plates in my hand, turned around and of course there was no one there.
Now I really didn’t understand what was going on. Still processing it all, I headed to the doorway between the kitchen and dining room to find him all the way across the room, rummaging around in yet another box to unpack. I looked around – all three kids were in bed, I was sure of that. We had no one else staying with us. What just happened?
When I asked him if he’d just run in, patted me on the back and run back out of the room, he looked at me like I had four heads, laughed and said, “Ummmm, no.” Then he started to walk towards me. About three quarters of the way across the room he stopped dead in his tracks and his eyes grew to the size of saucers. “What’s the matter?” I asked, swallowing hard. “I just….walked through a ten degree temperature drop and the hair on the back of my neck is standing up, “ he said. “You just walked through whoever it was that patted me on the back,” I chuckled.
It was in that moment that I think my husband became a believer that yes, there are spirits among us and sometimes our worlds intersect. I’m still not sure exactly who it was that patted me on the back that night. Maybe it was my husband’s deceased mother. Maybe it was Mary, the former house slave. Maybe it was Mr. Thompson welcoming us home. Little did we know, it wouldn’t be the last unexplained interaction we had (stay tuned for the next one in a few weeks) but I took it as sign that, whoever it was, they were glad we were there and I continue to hope for another pat one of these days.