The Ghost of Gibraltar

The first sign of paranormal activity in our new home was a foul smell.  It smelled like decaying food and was relegated to one part of the house; my 9-year-old son’s bedroom closet.  A ghost was not my first guess as the source of this odor. I ransacked his room, emptying lunch sacks, backpacks from prior school years, throwing out broken toys and unidentifiable objects, and cleaning and sanitizing his entire room. Bad smells bother me, I’m always saying “Do you smell that?” to my husband and he says, “No”, but I still have to get to the bottom of it.

When every inch of my son’s University of Michigan themed bedroom was dusted, vacuumed, and bleached from top to bottom, sans a rotting apple or old turkey sandwich, I was confident I had obliterated the source of the foulness.

At 4:00 a.m. several nights later, my son ran into my room, crying, saying there was a huge birdlike creature in his room. I soothed him saying, “Oh, no, honey, you had a bad dream, there’s no big bird in your room.”

He asked tearfully, “Will you go see?”

I turned on the light in his room. Good, no big bird. But that smell, it’s back! I sniffed up and down with my nose on the carpet, and it seemed like it was coming from the closet.  I opened the door and stepped back, just in case, there was a bird in there. No bird, nothing, but that disgusting smell. I decided I couldn’t do anything about it at that time of the morning, so I walked back into my room and my husband and son were sleeping like babies. The three inches remaining on the side of the bed were all mine, so I hunkered down and slept in 15-minute intervals for the next two and half hours before the alarm went off.  I was in a continuous dream of falling off a cliff.

I pushed the smell business to the back of my mind; I had other things to do like work, cook, pick up kids after school, help them with their homework, clean, regular family life tasks. We lived in a tri-level house, and all the bedrooms were upstairs, which I liked because it made me feel like we were all safe. However, my husband traveled a lot in those days and I never slept well when he was gone. I’m a light sleeper anyway, but when he travels, I stay on high alert keeping my children safe at night.

Several nights after the stinky ostrich situation, after the kids were in bed asleep and I had finally fallen asleep, something woke me. I heard footsteps. It sounded like someone was walking up the stairs. Slow, heavy footsteps, a shuffling sound, adultlike, not a child. I froze. Craig was in Texas. I thought, Maybe he came home early. No, he would have called or texted me. Oh, my God, who is coming up the stairs?!  I couldn’t move. A sense of dread came over me. I had the covers pulled up to my chin, but my eyes opened and dilated as big as buttons, adjusting to the darkness. I blinked several times trying to see whoever it was.  I waited and watched. I also listened to make sure whoever it was didn’t open either of my children’s doors.  I always kept my door open and theirs closed. I was their guard every night, and this night especially. Even though I felt paralyzed to get up and go see who it was, I knew that if he showed himself, I’d be ready to jump up and defend my babies if I needed to. I waited still. I know I heard footsteps. I waited. No more footsteps. Nothing. No one was there. I waited for at least an hour staring at the doorway.

My heart beat was so loud I was sure the intruder heard it. Still, I gathered up whatever courage I had, grabbed the big metal flashlight I kept beside me, slipped quietly out of bed, tiptoed to the hallway and turned on the light. I peeked around the corner and saw nothing.  My children’s doors were still closed. I looked down the stairs, nothing. I looked in on each of my children and they were sleeping like nothing happened. I locked their doors and shut them. I backed out of the hall and ran back to bed, keeping the hall light on, and fought falling asleep until I couldn’t resist it any longer. The next morning after the children went to school, I called my husband to tell him about it.

True to his personality, my husband took this information as if I was giving him the longitude and latitude coordinates to our address. I asked him, “Aren’t you a little concerned? I know I am!”

“Well, yeah, but I don’t know what you want me to do about it. I don’t have much experience with the paranormal.”

Oh, my gosh, he can be so infuriating sometimes. I knew this was going to be a job that I was going to have to handle, even if it meant us moving in the middle of the night.  That’s how we got our dog. Not in the middle of the night, but I handled it.  Now, thanks to me, our kids have grown up and on, but our dog is still with us, wearing diapers and taking medication. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though. Don’t ask my husband how he’d have it.

I didn’t hear the footsteps the next night, but they were heavy on my mind. I couldn’t stop hearing them in my head. Every time I went up and down the stairs, I’d think about them and how frozen I became, unable to move because of fear. I never talked about the incident in front of my children as I didn’t want to scare them.

My husband came back from his trip, and life seemed to be normal again until a few days later. Late one night, I was sleeping so soundly when suddenly I was jolted awake by a loud crashing sound coming from downstairs. I sat up and looked over at Craig, expecting him to be semi-unconscious but he was wide awake. I looked at him and asked, “You heard that, too?!” He said, “Yeah, I’ll go check it out.” I handed him the heavy flashlight and he didn’t hesitate taking it. It sounded like breaking glass, or like someone was holding a large stack of dinner plates and dropped them from chest level shattering them on a tile floor. I thought maybe someone was breaking into the house. I looked at the clock and it read 3:30 a.m.; I had the phone in my hand, the 9 and the 1 already dialed, the remaining 1 ready to be pushed.

My husband came back and reported that he saw nothing.  Nothing was out of place or broken. All the windows and doors were shut and locked. There was no glass anywhere.

I asked, “You checked allllthe windows and doors?”


“The basement recessed window, too?”


“What about the slider?”


“OK, because something weird is going on here, honey. I’m sorry, but this is just bizarre.  I’m so glad you heard it too because I was beginning to think that. . .”

He was snoring. Satan’s minions are living with us and he’s so relaxed about this he can sleep through it?!  Seems like Satan might have to up his game to provoke terror into my brave man.

The following week, my husband was out of town again, and I had a migraine.  After I put the kids to bed, I took some medication to control the throbbing headache, but a side effect is that it makes me sleepy. I don’t pass out with it, but as it takes the pain away it also makes me drowsy. I knew my husband wasn’t due home for another three nights, and just like before, I woke up, groggy this time, hearing the footsteps again, coming up our stairs toward the bedrooms. I was afraid, but mixed in with my fear was anger. We had just moved in to this house a month ago, and it was our first house as a blended family, and we loved it. It was a home that my husband and I picked to make happy memories with our children and to help bring safety, stability, and happiness to our family unit. I wasn’t backing down easily, allowing whatever this was to scare us out. Still, it was super creepy, and I stared, once again, into the dark hallway, waiting to see what this was.

Nothing. Nothing came or showed itself. My head felt heavy, swimmy from the medication, and I fought to keep my eyes open. I remember my last monologue with myself before I slumbered back to sleep was “I should check on the children. Nah, they’re fine. The footsteps are nothing but a spirit. They’re gone now. What are you gonna do about it anyway”, and then I drifted off to sleep, swatting the thoughts away like summer time gnats.

The next morning my headache was gone, and I made breakfast for the children as I normally did. As we were eating, my daughter asked, “Did daddy come home last night?”

I said, “No, he’s not coming home until Thursday night. Why do you ask?”

“Because I heard footsteps coming up the stairs and it scared me.”

Oh, hell, no.

My bite of waffle fell out of my mouth on to the floor and our dog ate it. My face and neck got red and my cheeks were burning. I didn’t know if I wanted to faint or cry or scream through the neighborhood, “We have a demon in our house! Get the priest!”  I didn’t do any of those things; I chose maturity and held all my emotion in, developed another migraine and asked her to tell me more.

She continued, “I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I was in there, I heard someone coming up the stairs. I opened the door and peeked out, because I thought it might be dad, but I didn’t see anybody. I kept hearing the footsteps, and I got scared, so I hid in the closet.”

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry you were scared. I wish I had known. You could have run into my bedroom, or called for me.”

I never let on that this had happened before. But now, I was a mother on a mission. Nobody, not even Satan himself was going to scare my children!  Nope it was the evil scary things or us, and we weren’t leaving quietly or easily.  There was a fight in me and I was going to at least try to do something to get these frightening things to stop.

I went to work and asked one of my friends, who used to be a pastor, if he knew much about ghosts or spirits. He said that yes, he did, and he listened to all that had happened in the last several weeks.  He believed me and told me that yes it was possible we were dealing with some evil spirits or ghosts, that he knew of other stories that involved odd smells or sounds in the middle of the night. He added that there is power in prayer and reading Scripture in the home where this is happening.

I asked him and several other of my friends to pray for me that we could get these spirits to leave the house. We never met the original owners but the couple we bought the home from struck us as slightly strange and we didn’t know if that had anything to do with the energy that was going on now. I told my husband that if this didn’t work, we were moving. I wasn’t going to live side by side with spirits that put fear in me and my children.  As is typical with Craig, he simply said “uhuh”, which either meant he was coordinating every detail of a midnight family move, or he simply didn’t know what to say to his determined wife. Probably both.

One afternoon before the children got home from school, I spent time praying, asking God to help me do what I was about to do. I asked Him to give me the strength and power to ask these spirits or ghosts or whatever it was that was bothering us to leave. I thanked Him for His love and power and for helping me.

After I prayed, I got my Bible out and started reading aloud, walking through the entire house, focusing particularly on the stairs and my son’s closet.  I don’t remember which passages I read but I was reading it so loud the next-door neighbors could have heard.  I was preaching! And then I started saying things like “In the power of the blood of Jesus, get outta here!” and “By the name of the power of Jesus’ name, leave!”, and “By golly miss molly, and for all that is holy, through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ I command you to leave this house!”  I was on fire and I know I wasn’t saying the words correctly; I was trying to remember the words to an exorcism.  But it’s been years since I’ve done one.

We lived in that house 13 years and no other alarming things happened after that day. I think “satan” met his match when he met an angry mother, defending her family and believing her love was strong enough to overcome any obstacle threatening to harm, bully, or scare her littles.

Love does win. I’ve seen it win again and again in my family. Fear, shame, and guilt, they don’t work, they never have. But Love, it always overcomes, defeats and conquers whatever we deem to be our enemy.  So, cling to LOVE and you’ll always win.


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