It was a house of spirits,

But somehow we always knew,

They were a gentle kind of ghosts

who never meant any harm;

They never broke things or made disturbances,

but simply made their presence known

from time to time,

like the time

when my nephew Ryan was a toddler

and he was in the living room alone

but talking to someone;

his mother asked  him

who he was talking to and

Ryan replied “The boy up on the ceiling” –

Oh“, I said, “he has seen the house ghost“;

we used the term singularly

but I came to believe

we had many such spirits

sharing the house and gardens

in the Arleta house.

Once, a girl my son was acquainted with

came to the house and walked around

the back yard,

saying she sensed a presence

and thought it was an Indian boy–

and once, when Kelly was very young

a voice called out to him one night,

from his bedroom window,

asking him to come out and play;

when he told me about the voice

I said “Just don’t go outside at night

Another time, a psychic friend of mine

was visiting and as she sat on the living room

sofa, she said, “You know, there’s a cold spot here

to which I blandly replied “so, sit somewhere else”

I knew the spirits were there; I knew they enjoyed

my presence amongst them and were happy

with the changes we had made to the old house

and the yard.

Everything we planted flourished

and trees grew where none  were planted,

simply volunteers;

I surmised that the seeds were flying about

and thought oh, this looks like a good

place to land.

We had volunteer peach, loquat and nectarine trees.

We knew an old couple had lived in the house

at one time, perhaps when the original part

of the house had been built. (I sometimes thought

that old couple might be our spirit visitors).

I often thought I could sense a presence

when I was working in the kitchen;

It was a house of spirits and my heart aches

wondering what has become of them

and whether or not they are still happy spirits.

(I often think that if Bob were capable of doing any haunting, he would choose the Arleta house–he absolutely did not want to move away (neither did I for that matter) but he passed away in 2011 and I am still alive–and the house was being haunted long before Bob died)


–Sandra Lee Smith

Originally written June 17, 2010

Updated September 8, 2018

(“The House of Spirits” is an Isabel Allende title)




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