This is Part 2 of the psychic events that followed my mother’s passing in January of 2003. For Mason Winfield, Jr., 1920-1992, and Frances Ward Winfield, 1920-2003.
Last week we talked about some of the potentially psychic events involved with the last few years of my mother’s life: her visions, her dreams, her impressions of company from beyond the physical world. There were also physical effects in her Orchard Park home. Two of them stand out in my memory, one because several people observed it and the other because I did. Let’s talk about the second first.
In the late fall of 2002 one of my mother’s aides reported the automatic garage doors acting up in several bouts on the evening before. As long as my parents had owned the house they’d had automatic doors, and I’d never heard of such a thing happening. I didn’t know what to think.
By the Christmas season the matter of the self-operating doors had scared hell out of more than one of my mother’s aides. The snarling of the machine kicking in made them think someone was breaking into the house - or that something supernatural was taking place. I was more concerned about the womens’ fear than their safety. That house is a virtual fortress, with alarm systems and locks on every imaginable aperture. Caring neighbors are on all sides, and the Orchard Park Police would take a personal interest in the matter of a break-in at a widow’s home half a mile from their station.
One evening late in December I was in the garage studying the system and wondering what to do about the problem when I witnessed it. My nerves are usually pretty steady, but I just about leaped out of my skin when the mechanism growled like a pouncing robot and opened the door on the east side of the garage. Unless someone nearby was playing jokes with our remote-control, there seemed no good explanation for this effect. I unplugged the machine, unhitched the chain, and locked the doors. There they rest.
Many people take anything psychic as some kind of message from “the spirits.” Few parapsychologists ever do, and I looked for no psychic message in the matter of these self-opening doors. Physical psychic displays are usually considered PK, “psycho-kinesis,” mind-over-matter. Spontaneous ones, even electrical effects like the self-operating doors, would be considered poltergeist phenomena, or RSPK (“recurring spontaneous psycho-kinesis”), which are are thought of as neutral. Random. No message. They’re thought to be about as intentional as gusts of wind.
Parapsychologists (even those who believe) think of ghosts, poltergeists, and the souls of our dead as completely separate. “The spirits” don’t just do things; and even if one of them could, if the spirits from my beloved but serious-minded family had chosen to make a statement in my mother’s last weeks of life, practical jokes with the garage doors would be a damn funny way to do it. Unless...
I pride myself on trying to think “outside the box” in paranormal matters, trying to think outside the patterns of believers, disbelievers, skeptics or parapsychologists. Maybe when you think you’re outside a box, you’re just in a different one of your own. Maybe a little too close to home, in more senses than one. It took me a long time to catch this one.
The door I watched open was the one behind which my dad kept his car for 27 years. The sound of the machine kicking in to open that door was always the first sign that my dad was coming home, often before his car was in sight.