Ghost or Imaginary Friend?
The driveway to our house was a mile-long tunnel hand-cut by men long ago forgotten. During the day, sunshine danced through tree limbs like happy fairies eager to great us home. At night, the moon cast deep shadows that morphed into terrifying creatures rushing past the car. In the age before mandatory seat-belts and car seats, the floor of the ‘ 66 Chevy was the safest way to travel at night. I was five years old.
The first time I saw him, it was a balmy afternoon and I was wandering through the woods around my house. He was mowing a lawn I had never seen before. An old man wearing baggy, grey pants held up with suspenders over an off-white tee shirt. His hair was thin, grey and very short. His face was clean shaven. He pushed a single-blade lawn mower silently across the grass. I should have heard the sound of the mower wheels or at least some birds. I heard nothing. All I felt was an uncomfortable sensation in my body that tingled and the sudden dramatic cooling of the air near his location. There was something different about this man but I could not understand what.
Intrigued, I retuned many times over the summer to the same spot. Sometimes, all I would find were mounds of rocks, shrubs and trees. Other times, he would be there silently mowing a lawn that was not there the day before. Occasionally, I could hear the sounds of his world, distorted, as if coming down a long tunnel. On those days, a stone and clap-board, single-story house sat several hundred feet from my position.
I wanted this man to be my friend. We didn’t have any neighbors for me to play with. I decided that the next visit when I could hear the rhythmic screeching of the mower wheels rolling through the grass I was going to approach him. I didn’t have to wait long for my opportunity.
I arrived at the spot I now knew well. I could see and hear him pushing the lawn mower across the same stretch of grass he always mowed. I moved toward him, pushing my way through a very uncomfortable thickness in the air. My skin stung from static electricity but I kept going. I was determined to learn his name.
I tumbled forward, feet landing in the grass. He turned, stopped the mower and looked at me puzzled, then smiled. My head started to pound. My eyes watered and it was hard to breath. I fell backward into the woods. The man and his world were gone.
On the edge of my yard, before the woods enveloped my house, were a table and several multi-colored, metal, bouncy chairs. My swing-set, sand-box and the dog house were within throwing distance. I was riding my bike around the wrap-around porch waiting for my lunch when I saw him. He was sitting at the table in a bouncy chair. I rushed over and plopped down onto a bouncy chair beside him. The air was cold and tingly. I didn’t mind too much.
I invited him to have lunch with me. I told him all about my dog, who was howling and whining at us. He said nothing and stared straight ahead.
My mom came out with lunch and asked who I was talking too. I pointed to my friend but he wasn’t there anymore. So I ate my lunch alone.
If I was outside playing around the table, I could feel when he arrived. I’d rush over and take my place in my bouncy chair. He never looked at or talked to me which was upsetting. I decided the next time he visited I was going to make him look at me.
It was lunch time. I was seated at the table with my peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. My arms started to tingle. I looked at the other bouncy chair, the one he always sat in. He was there. I got up, ran in front of his face and acted like a jumping bean so he could see me. For some reason I either knew I could not touch him or I had no desire too.
It worked. He smiled and then faded away. I reached over and swished my hand around his seat thinking maybe he was still there and I couldn’t see him. I felt nothing.
Bummed, I left my lunch and wandered back into the house. My grandmother asked me what was wrong. I told her. She yelled for my mother, who came running.
“Tell your mother what you just told me,” Grandma said angrily.
I did. Just like I always did. I told them both about my friend, what he looked like, the lawn mower, the house and how he sometimes came to visit me for lunch.
My grandmother became very upset and called me a liar. She’d never done that before. She and my mother argued and I wanted to cry. Mom kept saying I had something called an imaginary friend.
My grandmother turned to me and said, “That man you described can’t be there because he died years before you were born. That house was torn down. There is nothing back there but rubble! I don’t know how you learned about him, but I don’t think this is very funny!”
Desperate to prove I wasn’t lying, I took my mother through the woods to the man’s house. It wasn’t there. I tried to explain things but the more I talked the more upset she got.
I was no longer allowed in the woods by myself. I never saw my friend again.
This should be the end of the story, but I have never forgotten this event. Long after the death of my grandmother and the deterioration of our old house, I returned with my mother and infant daughter. I wanted to find that yard, that house. I wanted, needed to verify that what I remembered all these years ago was real.
I couldn’t find anything but our house and the skeletal remains of my swing set and the dog-house. Vagrants had taken over our once beloved home. The windows in the house were broken or gone. Graffiti butchered the interior walls. It was heart wrenching. My mother was spooked by the derelict nature of the house and the vibes she said she felt. We left.
Years later I returned again. Only to my horror the entire area was now townhouses. I was able to find the remains of my swing-set and the dog-house deep in the woods behind the houses. I brought home a piece of rusted metal from the swing and a stone from our house foundation.
In my forties, I was still haunted by my experience. Although, I will never be able to truly prove what I experienced, I still needed to find some kind of information for my sanity. I needed a name for my friend from so long ago.
I searched property records to see what I could find. There it was. According to the historic records our house and the house of my friend were built in the 1870’s by a man named S. Disney (I know his full name but am keeping it and the location quiet). On a map, his house was located where I remembered seeing it in my youth. I searched in vain for a picture of him. Oh well.
Was I somehow able to reach and befriend a deceased S. Disney or did I simply have a very unusual imaginary friend? You can decide what you wish but remember sometimes life is odder then fiction.
Posted on March 27, 2013, in Parapsychology and Paranormal Musings and tagged 1950's, childhood, children, fairies, Ghosts, Imaginary Friends, lawn mower, property records, spooked, woods. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.