When I was only a few months old I fell down the stairs.
Not just a few steps on a straight staircase, but from the top of a metal spiral staircase that wound from the front door of my parents' second floor apartment, to the ground floor.
At the time my mom and dad, relative newlyweds with a brand new baby, were in Hong Kong, living in the apartment above my grandmother's home. It was an old building (of course) dating back to the turn of the century, and something about the house always made my mother uncomfortable.
Of course, it might have been that she was living above her MOTHER-IN-LAW, that might make anybody's blood chill, but, in her words, "I never felt like the house wanted me there."
In fact, my Aunt Geraldine felt the same way about "The House on La Salle Road," as we all still call it. Geraldine was the wife of my father's oldest brother, and the first woman to marry into that generation of the Hung family. She was also the first female in-law to live in the house.
She hated it.
From everything I've been told, Geraldine was and is a warm, intelligent, no-nonsense woman whose charm belied a feisty, independent spirit.
Geraldine told my mom, when she was preparing to move into the upstairs apartment, that she saw things in the house -- shadows, people walking around who shouldn't be there, things darting just out of sight. She warned her that living in that house, as the wife of one of the Hung men was not easy. Rather cryptic words that my mom would soon come to understand.
The first month or so of living in "The House on La Salle Road" my mom never felt at ease. She has told me that she always felt "watched" and that upon coming home to the upstairs apartment, she almost felt that it was "angry" at her. She started hearing walking around in the apartment or lower levels when nobody else was around.
I should note that my dad, his mother and his brothers and sisters never felt uncomfortable in the house. There was no ominous "STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN HERE" stamped on the house, and even now, they all speak very fondly, if not adoringly of "THe House on La Salle Road."
It seemed as if the house did not like outsiders, WOMEN outsiders. As wacky as that sounds, my mom, and two of my aunts will attest to that.
Anyway, one day my mom was in the apartment alone, holding me and walking me around, when she heard the outer gate open and my dad calling, "Hello!"
She went out the front door of the apartment, which led directly out to the spiral staircase, and looked down to say hi to my dad.
The next thing she knew, she was toppling down the stairs, clutching me to her chest. She told me she fell with such force that all she could do was shield me with her body. She fell all the way to the bottom of the stairs, to the cement floor below.
My mom still has a long, shiny scar on her shin from the fall. Thankfully, I was not hurt.
To this day, my mom swears she was pushed.
"Just a quick push, just above the waist, but I felt it…there were hands on me."
Now, before you go wondering if my mom just said that to cover up her clumsiness, know that my mom never bullshits anybody. I've never met anyone so scarily honest. When I was a kid, and I did something stupid and got my comeuppance, my mom was the first person to say, "Well darling, that's what you get for doing shit like that."
And yes, she would probably use the word "shit."
My parents and I didn't stay in that apartment for very long. Within a month or two they moved to another apartment down the block, then all the way to Seattle, Washington. Even now my mom doesn't like talking about the La Salle Road apartment. "Ooh…there was something bad there."
The "House on La Salle Road" is long gone now. When my grandmother died about 10 years ago, it was sold, and I believe demolished to make room for condos.
I only have vague memories of the house, but I always felt very happy and safe in it. Sure it was old and spooky, and had pictures of dead people hung all over the place, but some of my favorite snippets of childhood come from that house. Maybe it's because I'm a blood relative.
Or maybe it was just a house. Who knows?
Have you ever simply "felt" unwelcome in a place for no logical reason? Have you, or anyone you know ever felt endangered by the unexplained? Do you have any "family ghosts"?