My mother always felt that there was a ghost in our house, some invisible personage who seemed to come and go at its whim. She describes feeling its presence, sometimes a soothing hand on her arm or an embrace. She was never frightened by it; in fact, she grew quite used to it, and was grateful for its comfort.
On a St. Patrick’s Day many years ago, my mother threw a party for the people she knew from the church – including some older nuns who were the last to leave. When they decided to go, my mother walked them through our enclosed porch and onto the front steps, where she waved goodbye to them and went back into the house. She shut the outer door, crossed the porch, and, upon entering the living room, gave the inner door (which liked to get stuck on the thick carpet) a pretty good push closed.
The door – not one of those new-fangled hollow-core doors, but an actual, solid-wood door – did not close. Instead, it impacted with a loud crack against something on the other side of it, and bounced back into my mother’s hands.
The first thought my mother had, of course, was that one of the women had perhaps forgotten something and come back inside to fetch it – only to be hit in the head with our giant, wooden door. “Oh my God,” she thought, panicking. “I’ve killed a nun!” She grabbed the door and pulled it open, her words of apology and worry spilling over one another.
“Are you okay, Sister?! I didn’t know you were – “
But no one was there.
My mother tested the door to see if something had intruded itself into the door jamb – someone’s shoe or a child’s toy – but there was nothing blocking the doorway and nothing on the floor that might have fallen there from the door. The door itself opened and closed just fine.
My mother instantly thought of the ghost. “I’m sorry!” she said very sincerely into the empty porch. “I didn’t expect you to be there.”
But, although our house-ghost still seems very much to be in our porch – ringing the little bell in the outer door, opening the inner door, making footsteps – as far as any of us is aware, it has never taken the chance again to cross such a dangerous threshold.