When I too stepped into the attic, I saw maybe a dozen boxes stacked in a corner to the left of the window whose white laced curtains added a feminine touch to the room. Surprisingly there wasnít a speck of dust on the curtains or window sill. More unusual to me was the fact there were no spider webs on the window or in the attic corners. Perhaps it was the sight of looking at the lake that distracted me.
Maybe it was the maple leaves falling to the ground below. Whatever it was, something made me feel very comfortable in that attic. However, Mr. Richardís didnít feel as I did. He was more than just a little nervous. He was impatient for me to go with him back downstairs. I followed him back downstairs and watched him fold up the ladder as the cord swayed in the air.
Once again, we walked back outside. As I walked out into the yard, waiting for the realtor to lock the front door and look at the garage and property, I glanced up at the attic window and could have sworn that I saw the curtain move. But I knew it just was my imagination. After touring the rest of the property, Mr. Richardís asked me what I thought of the house.
I wanted this house, I really did. I wanted to call this my home, even if I was to live out my years here, alone. But something was still bothering me. I guess it its human nature or curiosity to ask about the previous owner, so I did. ďMr. Richardís, can you tell me a little about the previous owner of this house?Ē I asked. There was a pause of silence before he began to speak as if he was picking his words very carefully, which made me even more determined to know who the previous owner was.
Mr. Richard was short and to the point, not revealing more than he wanted to. ďThereís not a lot I can tell you Ms. Brown. The previous ownerís name was Jacob Stacy and he and his wife lived in this house, oh for twenty years I think. His wife passed away three years ago, no it was four. Jacob passed away last year. His son William has the title to the property and Iím handling the paperwork if a buyer is found.
I really canít tell you anything more.Ē he said. Was he telling me the truth or was there more he wasnít telling me? Then he walked over to the hood of his Mercedes and asked if he could go over some papers with me. The next few minutes were spent explaining the real estate price, terms, conditions and escrow fees if I decided to purchase the house. I asked him if I could have a few days to think it over.
With a forced smile and a look of disappointment he nodded and said, ďSure.Ē as he handed me his business card. The very next morning I left a message for Mr. Richard that I would like to talk to Mr. Jacobís son about the house. A few hours later, Mr. Richardís secretary called and gave me William Stacyís phone number. I called the number but got his answering machine.
I left my name and phone number and a short message about my interest in his fatherís house. It wasnít until I was in the middle of making dinner that evening when the ring of the phone startled me. It was William Stacy. Williamís voice was a fresh change from the cold and uninteresting voice of Mr. Frederick. William was relaxed, friendly and excited someone was interested in the house.
What was clear to me wasnít Williamís excitement of a sale, but rather, that someone would be living in the house that his father had lived in for so long. Over the course of an hour, with dinner put on hold, William shared with me many life experience memories of his father and Samantha, his wife. Twenty years of love and laughter and yes heartache too when Samantha passed away.
Being retired, Jacob had a love of music and had been an amateur songwriter of sorts. His only audience and devoted fan was Samantha, who felt blessed to be able to love a man who wrote and played love song after love song to her. Jacob didnít have the voice to go with the sweet soothing romantic songs he strummed on his guitar so easily for Samantha.
But William said it never disappointed Samantha for a single moment. When Samantha died from heart failure, William said it as if her death made a part of his father die too. He was a changed man. Such a huge void in his life was revealed. They say that when the bond of love between two people is that strong, that it isnít long before the other spouse also dies. William said his father died less than a year from the day Samantha died.
It was a peaceful death he told me. He had been writing a love song in the attic when he died that fall afternoon in 2004. If I had been standing up, I think I would have fainted or at the very least dropped the phone I was holding onto the floor. Now I knew why Mr. Richard had been so nervous and evasive with me about the house and the attic. As I sat in my recliner, absorbing all that William had told me, I remembered the attic curtain I thought had moved when I was outside the house.
ďDid I actually see the attic curtain move?Ē And the warmth in the attic. Was it merely the sun against the window pane? Why wasnít there a speck of dust in the attic? Why were there no spider webs? Were they all signs that the ghost of Williamís father lingered in the attic? My mind was spinning with confusion until the sound of Williamís voice on the phone brought me back to him.
I asked if we could meet each other to discuss the house further, but what my real reason was to learn more about his father. I told William that my husband also passed away in 2004 from a heart attack. He agreed to meet with me at Dennyís for lunch tomorrow. William was a charming gentleman in his 30ís, tall, neatly trimmed black hair and deep blue eyes.
Beside him stood his wife Emily and the three of us sat down in a booth and ordered lunch. Amidst the bites William shared memories of Jacob and his wife as I share the same of Tom and me. I donít know who cried more, Emily or I, but they were good tears. When the hostess brought the bill, William insisted on paying the full bill. I think it was obvious to the three of us that I would be buying the house.
The very next day I met with Mr. Richard at his office and began the paperwork. In about three weeks escrow was closed and the house was my new home. To my surprise, Emily and William volunteered to help me move in. How could I say no? Those first few days, like anyone else were chaotic. Boxes everywhere and no clue as to what to unpack first or where things should go.
Arranging, then re-arranging and still re-arranging more. Eventually, everything was put in the perfect place and I was worn out. I sat down in my recliner and drifted off to sleep. That was when something woke me up. It wasnít the sound of a passing truck or a knock upon my door. It was the soft melody of guitar music coming from the attic. A wonderfully pleasing romantic melody, ever so softly played, but clearly was heard coming from the attic.
From the very first moment I entered the attic, I had a feeling there was a presence in that room. I just couldnít describe or pinpoint where it was. Now I could. Nervously, I walked up the attic ladder and stood at the door as the music continued. But when I touched the door knob and opened the door, the music stopped. I had forgotten to ask Mr. Richard why the boxes were still left in the attic.
I felt tears in my eyes as their warmth ran down my cheeks. Suddenly an unseen hand brushed my tears away from my cheek. I almost fainted. With gentleness in my voice, I whispered, ďJacob, I know your pain and heartache. I too lost the love of my life. Youíre welcome to play your love songs. Youíre welcome to stay.Ē I said. That Christmas was my first real Christmas in years where I decorated, had a tree and lights, celebrating what Tom and I had shared.
Iíve never seen the ghost of Jacob. Iíve never seen anything supernatural occur, you know, like a cup moving across the counter. Jacob hasnít done anything to frighten me. To me, he has never left the attic where he died. But I do intrude upon his solitude now and then and spend time sharing memories when Tom was at my side. I canít tell if Samantha is with him. All I can say is that he composes and plays the most wonderful love songs Iíve ever heard.
© 2009 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)