I was visiting Paletta Lakefront Mansion in Burlington, which is supposedly haunted by the ghost of industrialist Cyrus Birge, the founding director of the Canadian Steel Company. I’d heard Birge, who built the mansion in the early 1900’s was a rough, hard-nosed businessman. When I walked into the room that was his library, I sensed a presence and saw in my mind how the room had been laid out when he had used it as an office. Of course, the books on the shelves now were more recent volumes than the tomes that must’ve lined the shelves more than a century ago.
“Hello,” I said to the room, and after a few moments, left to talk in the hallway with my tour guide.
WHUMP! Came a sound from the room. Rushing back into the library, we found a book that had toppled over.
The wide-eyed tour guide laughed, saying those kinds of things happened in the mansion all the time. Some people, she added, do get freaked out by it.
“Not me,” I told her. “as a medium, meeting and talking to spirits is my life.”
Communicating with the other world isn’t spooky. But when I was a kid – whoa! I was a different brand of applesauce back then.
When I was around 10 years old, I was invited to a pajama party sleepover with seven other girls. We pitched our blankets downstairs in the birthday girl’s basement, a faux wood-paneled rec room straight out of 1960. We were a boisterous bunch, having gorged ourselves on pizza, cake and ice cream, and all that sugar made us talk loudly and emboldened us to do crazy girl-party things.
One of the girls went over to a full-length mirror on a wall. “I got an idea,” she cried, gazing into the glass. “If we all stare into the mirror and say ‘Mary Wentworth’ three times, she’ll appear for us!”
“Yeah!” another girl shouted, and everyone ran to the mirror.
Everyone but me. “NO!” I shouted
I was quaking with the heebie-jeebies. This was way before everyone laughed at ‘Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!” This stunt wasn’t a Nicky-Nicky-Nine-Doors prank – In my gut, I knew if we summoned up a ghost, it would haunt us all night – and maybe even all our lives!
“I’m going upstairs,” I said, not at all worried about being a spoil-sport. “And if you do that thing, I’m leaving!”
Ignored, I ran upstairs and told the girl’s mother what was going on. She trundled downstairs and very diplomatically told the group, “If everyone doesn’t want to take part in a game, you shouldn’t do it.”
And that was that. Little did my girlfriends know that I probably saved them from a life of torment from a vengeful Mary Wentworth – whoever she was. (Anybody ever heard of her?)
Years later, a girlfriend who was a Mennonite took me on a week-long camping trip to the Silver Lake Mennonite Camp in Ontario, and on Friday night, everyone told ghost stories around the campfire. One girl, whose father was a minister, said her dad found a Ouija board that they were playing with on the dining room table. He picked it up and hurled it out the door into the trash, then yelled at them to never use anything like that again – ever! But the next morning, the girl got up and there was the Ouija board on the table again.
And on and on, with each person trying to out-scare the one before. I wore a strong face during the evening as the fire crackled and shot sparks into the air, then went to sleep that night petrified that something was going to show up and bedevil me.
To this day, I don’t like horror stories. While my husband watches something like The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix, I go in the next room and shut the door. Made up ghost tales freak me out. Yet I can watch a Ghost Adventures marathon with no problem. Because that stuff is real.
I can talk to a spirit. I just don’t want to encounter anything that won’t talk back.
If you have any questions or comments on this subject or on any other spiritual matter, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please visit me again!