As a kid I knew the gift was in my family.
I would hear my Mom and her siblings talk about my Uncle Ernest who was on the tarmac at Pearl Harbor during War-World-II, when all the Planes flew over shooting down all the Men around him, not a bullet touching him. They would say he was born with “a Veil Over His Eyes!! His gift presented itself to me in a real way as a Teenager.
My Aunt Cora and Uncle Eddie whose real first name is Alee had no children, so I was the closet relative they thought of as and treated me like their own Son.
They traveled a lot and depended on me to House-sit for them while away. I was honored they trusted me with the responsibility. While spending the night I would have a reoccurring visitor.
I would lock the screen and inner front and rear doors of their Cape-Cod styled home every evening before climbing in the bed.
Just as I would get close to drifting off to sleep, I would hear the front screen door open, then the front inner door open, then hear footsteps walking to the bedroom, until they landed beside the bed next to me.
I would keep my eyes closed, pretending to be sleeping. I felt no fear because whoever was visiting felt like a loving presence checking on me. It was a nightly quick visit, then I would hear their footsteps walk away, opening both front doors and closing them.
I never got up to check if the doors were locked until the morning. I kept my eyes closed until I awoke the next morning. Although not afraid, I just did not want to see a Ghost watching over me.
A couple of weeks later when my Mom and her Siblings were gathered together at my Aunt Cora’s home, they got to talking about all the things my Uncle Ernest would see. I jumped in the conversation even though young folks was taught to stay out of grown folks business, telling about my nightly visitor. My Aunt Cora said she never had any encounters there.
About a year later while visiting there my Uncle said to me “by the way I met your friend!” I said what friend Uncle? He said “you know the friend you told me about!” I still looked at him puzzled. During that year my Uncle Ernest had decided to fully retire a second time.
He had a long career in the Military, and a second long career in security with the United States Postal Service at their main West-Loop headquarters we know as the iconic long building the Eisenhower expressway runs under. My Aunt Cora had convince Uncle Ernest to finish the Attic of her home and turn it into his personal apartment.
As a sort of therapy for all his military trauma endured, Uncle Ernest would create model airplanes, motorize them and fly them at the local wide open park spaces. He created a workshop area within the attic apartment.
One day while building a model plane from scratch, the Ghost stood over his shoulder observing his work. My Uncle calmly turned to look up at him and said “may I help you?” He said the Ghost shot down the stairs and out the house. I said while Uncle, there is such a thing as scaring a Ghost?
Uncle told me the Ghost was the original Owner of the home. Now how he knew this I did not question. I just knew I possessed a small part of his gift, and it has revealed itself to me throughout my career. Some houses just speak their truth to me.
I just know when an Owner has passed away in the home. I know when a home is suffering through a Divorce. Those are the strongest vibes communicating to me while touring homes. Every once in a while the Ghosts there let me know I am moving through their territory.
I was touring a historic Victorian in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago with my Buyers. The home had a front and a rear staircase and plenty of bedrooms. It was one of the first warm slightly breezy Chicago days where there was a hint of Summer, breaking through one of our unpredictable Spring seasons. All the windows were open which freshened the home.
It is my style while touring two-story styled homes to lead my Buyers upstairs first. The Owners were hanging out in the Kitchen at the rear of the home, allowing me to really do my Realtor-Thing in touring homes helping Buyers to visualize themselves living there. Still walking in front of my Buyers we entered the first of about four or five bedrooms on that level.
As I walked pass the first window, it closed shut all by itself. This happen with the second window, and by the third window I turned to see if my Buyers were noticing what I was noticing? They did not notice the windows were closing shut all by themselves.
I stayed cool as this happened in the next bedroom, and the next bedroom. At that point I began to speak to whoever was communicating to me. I whispered I know you are reaching out to me, and I am not a problem to you! Not once did I feel any fear, but when we got to the base of the rear staircase, I learned even more.
Still walking ahead of my Buyers I made eye contact with the Sellers. I gave them what I called “The Flinch!” Have you ever had someone ask the wrong question or say something inappropriate to you, and you gave them a non-verbal response of disapproval? “The-Flinch” has served me well in not verbally laying a soul to rest, if I were to say what I really was thinking.
In this moment I gave these Sellers a look letting them know I knew what they were dealing with. In the very next moment they gave me a look confirming what I knew. I knew through non-verbal communication why they were selling that home. They were tired of being terrorized by this Ghost. The funny part was my Buyers were oblivious to all this non-verbal communicating going on in this house. Oh by the way, they did not like the house. Once I walked away from it I totally walked away from it.
My 85 year old Dad was living his last days in Hospice, but my Mom and the hospital staff was calling it Rehabilitation, I guess to protect me and my Sister from whatever they called themselves protecting us from.
About a month prior to his passing, we got a call from the Hospital to come there right away. They spent the next 22 hours keeping him alive. I prayed nearly the entire time. My prayers revealed to me the inevitable. When asked through prayer if His time was near, I was told we would be given the strength we needed.
Once they stabilized him, my Mom made the decision to transition him to the Hospice called Rehabilitation. She always held out hope he would recover, kept telling us to pray for his healing, but one organ after another began to die.
The morning he passed on the fourth of July, I said to myself just like his stubborn-self to make sure we would never forget his passing, my sister first was called by the Hospice Staff, inquiring what they wanted her to do for him? While she had them on the land phone she called me on her mobile to ask what to instruct? I said just tell them we are on our way and hang up. I immediately called my Mom to inform her I was on my way to pick her up. She began to share a most memorable happening.
She said this greenish looking man entered her bedroom walking on her side of the bed. He looked at her then looked over my Dad’s side of the bed. When he saw Dad was not there, Mom said he rushed to leave the room at the moment I was calling her. Mom believed it was the Spirit of Death looking for Dad.
After the dust had settled from planning his funeral in which we did him very proud, I had this dream. I saw this tall greenish looking man standing on the south side of my Parent’s home near my Sister’s former bedroom. He was as tall as the roof.
I knew him as the Strong-Man who had opened the door for all kinds of Spirits to flow through my Mom’s home. I walked right up to him and told him I am not afraid of you, and you are going to close that door and I mean close it right now.
I woke up the next morning to call my Mom and tell her about the dream. She told me he was the same man she was seeing along with all kinds of visitors who would wait till pitch black darkness to visit her. She said she was not going crazy, was not afraid, but it was tiring to have all these visitations every night.
I called a close Pastor Friend to share what my Mom was going through. She told me often when couples have been married as long as my Parents who were married 56 years when my Dad made his transition, when one Spouse passes “The Spirit of Death” will hang around once they know they have been seen to see if they can scare the other Spouse enough to have a heart attack and claim them. She told me exactly what to do to put a stop to this.
I shared her instructions with my Mom, which was basically taking authority over her home and commanding them to stop bothering her. Plus, she leaves a dim light on in my former bedroom. They rarely reveal themselves when there is even a slight glimmer of light. More importantly, as long as she is not afraid in the home, that is sufficient for me. I can take care of the rest through my prayers.
As I mentioned from the start I knew at a young age my family possessed the gift. My Mom had this ability to tell me the future of all my friends. She would let me know who was not going to do well in life. Who to distance myself from because their life would be full of trouble. She was always right on the money.
Her gift was also bestowed to me in that I just instinctively know spiritual things about people I encounter. I just seem to know what they need in the moment, and say what they need to hear in the arena of encouragement. Often though, I just keep my mouth shut when I know the bad stuff. I just give that stuff over to prayer for them.
My esteemed Colleague John Henry below shares a story most appropriate at this time of year, about a very famous Architect far ahead of his time in his creative gifts, one whose work I so admire and I get to see in person very often. The story is so good, it triggered my Ghostly memories. This stuff is real folks. Only those I know can handle it I share my gifts.
Now, please enjoy John’s story….
On a secluded hill in a spring green meadow sits a house built at the turn of the century. It was to be the final home of a woman very much loved. But the near complete destruction of this house was due to avarice, adultery, and insanity. It is truly haunted due to murderous vengeance. Seven occupants of the house perished. How did such abject horror come to pass? And why is this story kept hushed to this day?
A long time ago in the bustling streets of a great northern town, a man with great ambition started his own business. He had no scruples as he stole some of his esteemed employer’s clients and worked secretly until he was found out. And then he was ignominiously fired.
Our subject of this sordid tale is a man of smaller build with big ideas -- but had a chip on his shoulder. He imagined himself to be great at his profession. He was a braggart. While congenial with his clients he was strict with his wife and children. It was the end of the Victorian era and although born from a family with deep religious roots, he developed his own personal philosophy that was very self-centered and based on natural processes.
He married and built a small gabled house on the horse-drawn bustling streets in the suburbs. He and his wife Catherine had 7 children, all very well kept. He built an office adjacent to his house. He loved his work and spent long hours advancing his career – often to the detriment of his family. His business required trips out of town and while on one of his ‘working’ engagements he fell in love with Martha, the wife of a very good client. She was a beautiful woman and very intelligent. She had an understanding of history and art and was actually a translator of books.
The man was obsessed with this woman. Although deemed immoral, they both fled the country nonetheless and traveled through Europe for months. His business suffered, but it didn't matter to him. He found his perfect partner finally. Catherine, his wife, would not grant a divorce and the tales of this unholy relationship spread through the community. She and her children were estranged and left alone in the suburban cottage.
A huge scandal was reported over the 'soul mates' in the press and reporters chased them everywhere they could be found.
The man hid his love interest away in the country house when they returned from their European soiree. Martha was sheltered and adored in the house on the hill overlooking that green meadow. A brook flowed gracefully nearby. The house became known as the ‘love castle’. As time went on, Martha and her children became friends with the assistants, gardeners, and servants. Everyone came to know each other very well and there was a communal attitude there. Life was a secret pleasure for the two lovers.
They would all eat dinner together, entertain in the music room, read stories and act out plays, etc. In those days there were several servants and workers at hand and while there was some formality between the house owner and service people one of the servants was repeatedly chided and humiliated. Julian Carlton had been a recent hire from Barbados. It was said that he was not right in the head, even that he practiced voodoo…But the derogatory treatment by the staff and Martha annoyed and angered the servant so much that he imagined a plot to get even with his employer.
While out of his office on August 15, 1914 a telegram was received concerning a ghastly event at the distant location. The man and the husband of the woman he loved both traveled by train together in deep bereavement to the estate, in shock, to witness after a short buggy ride a smoldering fire and the evidence of multiple deaths following a horrific event.
The vexed servant had planned a deadly revenge for the constant belittlement and nasty remarks. He had prepared a dinner for Martha, her children and the staff people there. While they were at supper he served the dessert at the end and quickly poured gasoline around the dining room.
He then took an ax and charged into the dining room quickly aiming for Martha first, bludgeoning and splitting her head and then proceeded to hack at everyone else at the table. After mortally injuring them all, he fled locking the dining room door behind him and lighting the gasoline which enveloped the room after which the living and dining quarters of the house burnt to the ground. The man’s lover, children and staff had been brutally murdered and those who barely survived the ax were burnt to death.
It was only several days later, after the heat from the fire had subsided, that the police finally found the servant hiding in the boiler in the basement. When found out he quickly swallowed muriatic acid and suffered an agonizing death that lasted for days. The maddening crowd wished to lynch him then and there for his evil and bloody retribution.
The man first introduced in this story was architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The woman he loved was Mary Cheney or Martha "Mamah" Borthwick. Martha had met Wright’s wife Catherine at a social club in Chicago. She referred her husband to Mrs. Cheney’s to design a house for them. The house that Wright cloaked around Martha Borthwick is called Taliesin. The house was named after a Welsh poet from the 6th century and later was portrayed as a wizard or prophet. The word means ‘shining brow’. It was FLWs experimental project, continually being modified based on his latest thinking. Taliesin is built in Spring Green, Wisconsin and was rebuilt after the fire. You can visit this house to this day but you won’t hear this story told by the docents… (photo at bottom)
The tortured photoshopped image above is actually the Ennis House built in 1924 by FLW in Los Angeles. It was the setting of Vincent Price’s black and white horror film of 1959, “House on Haunted Hill”. You can see an image of this house at the beginning of the film. But the interior, quite modern, was not used for the story. A more gothic interior was created by the set designer. A plastic skeleton was flown through the seating area of theaters at choice moments. Alfred Hitchcock admired the low budget success of this movie and made another for himself a year later entitled… Psycho.
Ennis House Photo: Endre Barath Jr.
Above: Taliesien, the house in which the murders actually occurred
Below and top pastoral image: additional photos from Janie-Rice Brother, Architectural Historian, with her blog about historic buildings and gardens here.