Before I turned ten years old, I frequently visited my Aunt and Uncle’s home in Austin Minnesota for casual visits. Austin, a town in rural Minnesota with a population of 25,000, is famous for it being the headquarters for the famous canned meat SPAM. However, upon further exploration, there may be an even more significant presence there, perhaps something less discernable: ghosts.
To be more specific, my Aunt and Uncle claim to be visited by the ghost of a man that passed away in their home many decades ago. This was unannounced to me only until several years ago when they chose to modify their kitchen so as to reorient their windows in an attempt to escape their frequent ghost sightings. When asked if their son (my cousin) had ever seen this ghost, my aunt replied, “Oh yeah. We’ve been seeing him ever since we moved in. So did Dave.” There is a large age gap between my cousin and my aunt and uncle, so it is rather interesting how an entire family seem to all experience the same ghost with the same visualizations.
When I asked my aunt to describe their first experience with this ghost, this is how it went:
“Well, it started when we moved into the house. We’d be in the kitchen, and uh, we’d see an image go past the window umm, heading towards the garage, and we would assume he was heading towards the back door. Now, I say ‘he’ because, well, I suppose I don’t know why. I guess it’s because we were told a man passed away in our room some 30 years before, so I guess whenever we saw the image walking past the window we just assumed it was the man. Anyways, we never could really see a uh…. defined image of a person per se, it was more or less a shadow or something similar. He would walk quickly by the kitchen window, but when we would walk out to check…he never actually made it to the door. Pretty soon we just got used to it.”
Both my aunt and uncle claim to have seen this mysterious man walking by their window quite a number of times. I wanted to make sure this wasn’t an experience specific to them or my cousin, so I asked my aunt if any of my other relatives had seen anything similar. The conversation progressed like this:
“So, Aunt Susan, I know I personally have never seen this man, maybe because I don’t remember much of the memories in your home before the kitchen was modified, but has anyone not in your close family ever had a similar experience?”
“Oh my goodness, yes! Actually, I was talking to your aunt Teresa the other day and we were talking about this one night when she was over here baking and at one point that evening she said, ‘Susan, there is someone at the door.’ I just said, ‘No there isn’t.’ She insisted, and eventually, I just had to say, ‘Trust me, no one is coming.’ Nobody came.”
She made it clear that they chose to never discuss these mysterious happenings with anyone. In her words, “we never wanted you guys to be afraid of visiting us. But when Teresa saw it, um, I guess it sort of validated what we’d been experiencing.”
It was obviously very clear that this man consistently appeared through their window, but I wanted to see if they had seen him anywhere else. She responded with this:
“Well, yeah of course. It started with the window sighting, and then, ya know after we remodelled he just seemed to appear in our south window in the back instead of the front. It was crazy. Then one day, and this was just mind-boggling, your uncle and I were sitting on the front porch holding our cell phones out so we could chat on the speakerphone. Then, all of a sudden, we turned our heads at the exact same time because we heard someone running down our driveway towards the backyard. We heard the footst- the, the feet. It was almost like it was rehearsed, Jess. I immediately got up and ran, because I just had a feeling it wasn’t really true, ya know? So I run to the backyard, and of course, everything is fenced in back there, so I look around and nobody is back there. Not even footprints, which was weird because there was a ton of snow in the backyard so I would have seen the steps if they were there.”
“You’re sure it couldn’t have been anything else? Definitely footsteps?”
“We heard footsteps. Guarantee it.”
I was curious to see if perhaps they were merely perceiving these things, only because they were already believers in all things ghostly and also knew that there had been a death in the house. This was not the case. They had only learned about the death three years ago, which would be almost two decades after they first began to see this man walk by their window. In fact, my aunt provided a rather interesting point of information after I asked about the role their knowledge of the man’s death played in the sightings.
“The funny thing is, after we um…heard about the death, he hasn’t come back.”
I really wish I would have had an opportunity to see this “ghost”. I myself am hesitant to say I’m a believer in spirits like these, mainly because I simply have not had such an experience. However, if I were in my aunt’s situation, it is safe to say I would be a strong believer. I think it is important to note that while seeing a man walk by your window and run around your home definitely seems frightening, the inflection in her voice suggested the opposite. She was excited to reflect on her experiences and says she is glad her and other family members were able to validate their beliefs.