NORTH ADAMS — Both my mom and her sister believed in the supernatural, as it relates to ghosts. They were also both very devout Catholics.
From a young age, I can remember that my mom believed that the red ranch style house that we lived in on Honey Lane in East Northport, N.Y., was haunted — until she exercised the spirits using Lourdes holy water from France, and told them to leave us alone.
I lived in that house with several pets, my mom, dad, aunt and my brother, from the time I was about 2 years old until I was 6.
I cannot say that I remember anything supernatural going on. I recall having a lot of nightmares, but I think that is pretty common at that age — or is it? My mom taught me how to recognize that I was dreaming while in my bad dreams, and even wake up from them.
The stories about the hauntings in the house were legendary. Disembodied voices, a smell of perfume that no one wore, pets behaving strangely and other unusual things. They even believed that while they were working in the house, before we moved in, that a malevolent spirit may have lured me to the back steps of the house and caused me to fall down the stairs. I received a head injury and was hospitalized. One of my earliest memories is being in the hospital in a pediatric crib.
There was even the question of how long the house was on the market before my parents purchased it, and that the realtor was kind of shady about the history of the property.
A recent study reported that about 50 percent of people now believe in ghosts. According to an article by Harry Enten of CNN, Americans’ belief in ghosts has skyrocketed 400 percent since the late 1970s.
“Has she come to you in your dreams?” a friend asked me recently of my dead mother.
I’ve dreamt of my mom since she died but unfortunately she is usually still stricken with dementia.
Over the last few years, I did give my mom permission to haunt me — jokingly of course. But I kind of wished we had come up with a more definitive plan.
One woman told me how her late mom helped her to win the lottery a couple of times. I guess in life some kind of agreement was crafted, and in death it was implemented. I can’t say my mom and I had that kind of plan. There is no secret word to communicate that she is on the other side and doing OK. But if she has that kind of influence, I would welcome her intervention.
A few times in between sleep and consciousness I have heard her speak my name. Could that be her? Could it just be my brain reliving a moment from the past?
I’d like to believe my mom is still with me. However, it feels selfish to want her close when you hope she’s in heaven with all her family and friends. After the life she led, she deserves some peace.
But maybe she can travel from one plane of existence to another?
As an adult, my only true experience with the supernatural was on a ghost hunting expedition at the Houghton Mansion on Church Street in North Adams about 15 years ago. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of The Atlantic Paranormal Society were at the mansion investigating for their television show on the Sci-Fi network. I was on assignment for The North Adams Transcript with my colleague Jennifer Huberdeau. While I was intrigued by the assignment, I was also very skeptical. But then I had a paranormal experience while in the upstairs bedroom of Houghton’s chauffeur John Widders. He committed suicide with a horse pistol in the cellar of the barn, after the devastating automobile accident that killed occupants of the vehicle he was driving, including Mr. Houghton and his daughter Mary.
After that encounter, in which I heard a disembodied voice in my ear, I was more receptive to the idea of ghosts.
As for my mom, she is free to visit me anytime, in my dreams or even in my waking hours. I’d like to think that even in death she is still keeping a close eye on me.