and he clomped around at night.
I wish I was a better artist. I’d draw you a picture. This was one of those rare occasions when I saw an entire ghost – or to paraphrase Dan Aykroyd from Ghostbusters – a full body apparition.
Let me explain~
The house we rented in La Roque Gageac was ages old. Who knows when the foundation was first laid? It has been a residence of sorts since, quite possibly, Gallo-Roman times. The village itself definitely existed at the time of the Viking invasion of France. The Vikings raided La Roque Gageac when they sailed up the Dordogne River. (I do hope Rollo was one of the raiders!)
That’s a whole lotta history! Let’s face it, this region is where Lascaux is located.
Prehistoric cave paintings, Lascaux.
But the house has been renovated since Gallo-Roman times. Obviously. Because we had indoor plumbing times three. Although two of the three bathrooms were built into the actual rock wall. Which was sorta cool even when one considers the bats sleeping just outside the shower vent. But yes, remember, French bats. Cute bats.
But back to the ghost… No, he wasn’t Rollo. Darn!
Here’s how it happened. Because I was busy directing traffic around our cars while everyone else unloaded luggage at the lower end of the Roman road so we could schlep the luggage up the Roman road (think steep hill) and then I had to find a place to park (harder than you think), I was the last person to enter the house– aside from the little bat sleeping behind the shutter who was actually the last person to enter the house.
So being the last person to enter the house, I was the first person to explore the house because everyone else decided the first thing to do was open a bottle of wine and sit out on the terrace. And drink it. France…
I walked upstairs and felt him before I saw him. Felt him the second I entered the bedroom to the left of the stairs. Then I saw him, standing over by the window. He wasn’t flashy, he was rather pedestrian. But still he was dead. My youngest daughter had already called dibs on the biggest bathroom sans bats. So this was her room.
It’s never a good idea to arrive at a rental house in France and announce to your family drinking wine and enjoying the view from the terrace that the house is haunted. I decided to keep my mouth shut. I figured I could just suck it up and ignore Mr. Ghost.
That night we all went to bed, well, all except my husband who was still using his Kindle to check out baseball scores. I was having trouble sleeping in my little single bed, tossing and turning. I turned over and low and behold, there he was, in profile, standing by the window.
I got the feeling he wanted me to open the shutters. I didn’t like it, not one bit. Nevertheless I tiptoed past him and opened the shutters. I needed to let some light into the room anyway. Even the best of ghosts are disconcerting.
I slept fitfully. Felt better once the hubs finally came to bed. The ghost was quiet all night so in the morning I was willing to let bygones be bygones. Until my youngest daughter walked into our bedroom. She was shaking. She’s never seen a ghost in her life.
“There’s a ghost in my room.”
“Mom, don’t you walk away from me. Is there a ghost in my bedroom? Over by the window? Go look.”
“Get rid of him, mom.”
“Wait a minute… You knew he was here, didn’t you?”
“When did you first see him?”
“Um, um, yesterday?”
“And where did you see him?”
“Um, in your room?”
“And you didn’t tell me???”
“I am not sleeping with a ghost. I’m sleeping in your room from now on. Or you’re sleeping in my room. Or dad’s sleeping in my room. I don’t want to see him any… He’s gone.”
“Moooooooooom!” It was my older daughter. She’s also never ever seen a ghost. “Moooooooom! There’s a ghost in our bedroom.”
My youngest and I ran downstairs.
“Over there, by the window.”
Sure enough, there he was, staring at the window.
I said, “Open the shutters.”
Eyes wide, my daughters stared at me. “Are you insane? You open the shutters.”
So I had to open the shutters.
Neither my husband nor my son-in-law could see the ghost, although my son-in-law did kill the largest spider I’ve ever seen that was a. indoors and b. not in a horror movie.
So we moved my youngest daughter’s twin bed into our room and the three of us slept together every night. Didn’t stop the ghost. He clomped around the house, always turning up at one window or another.
The worst night was our last night. We had to get up at 4 a.m., leave by 4:30. We had a two, two and a half hour drive to the Bordeaux airport – we all had flights leaving around 8:30.
At 1 a.m. (I know because I glanced at my cell phone) I was awakened by the loud clomping of wooden-heeled shoes on our wooden bedroom floor. First he stopped over my bed, then walked around my bed and stopped to look down at my sleeping husband, then he headed to my daughter’s bed. I sat up and I said, “No.”
He vanished then, but of course so did my night’s sleep. One must guard one’s daughters from wandering ghosts.
Let me try to describe the gentleman~ He looked to be in his forties, but then he could have been in his thirties. I’m not sure how rapidly people aged back in those days, you know, several hundred years ago. He was 5’7″, maybe 5’8″. I’m guessing he weighed (in life) around 150 pounds. His hair was sort of chestnut brown in color, no gray, and it was coarse, a little wavy. He had it pulled back. It wasn’t super long, rather it was just long enough to tie back at the nape of his neck. His forehead sloped and he had a low hairline. As in a low hairline. I don’t exactly know how to describe hairlines. I only know I have a big forehead. His forehead sloped down to his eyebrows, which were thick and kinda bushy.
His eyes slanted down at the outside corners. And like most parents he had bags under his eyes. But he wasn’t wrinkled.
His nose was straight, wide, a little bulbous at the tip, and he had a receding chin, a bit of a double chin, actually. Small but nice ears. He wore a long forest green overcoat or jacket, homespun, definitely homespun. I could see the weaver’s work. Under the overcoat was a shirt, white, with collar and cuffs but not like we wear today. I just know the collar stuck up above the jacket and the cuffs showed below the sleeves of the jacket. He wore short pants. They came to his knees and they were fitted, not baggy, not pantaloons. Stockings and pointy shoes with wooden heels.
He never smiled. He never spoke. He mostly stared out various windows but he seemed interested in us. Especially in my daughters but not in the way you think. I got the distinct feeling he was looking out the window because he was waiting for his own daughter. He wasn’t sad, he was more… pensive. Worried. Concerned.
I wonder what happened. I wonder how he got stuck between worlds.
It was one of my most extraordinary ghost experiences. This is the first time I’ve seen a ghost manifest with such clarity and this was the first time anyone in my family has seen a ghost, period. It’s always been me. From the time I was a kid, just me.
I wrote to the owner of the house, asking him if he knew anything about a ghost. He didn’t respond. Who knows? Maybe my email went into his spam folder. But I’d sure love to know the history of the house. And as I said, I wish I was a better artist. I’ve never been good at life-drawing. (Or dead drawing.)
P.S. We all made it home safe and sound with our luggage. We had ourselves quite an adventure.