Regardless of your thoughts on ghosts and the afterlife, growing up there were things that happened around our house that left me certainly open to the idea that ghosts are real. Granted, I’ve not had any such experience in many, many years so my experiences may have been nothing more than the overactive imagination of my childhood but the stories of others certainly give me some doubt to that rather simple explanation.
Now, I’m going to sit here and say that I saw ghosts all the time like that little boy from the movie The Sixth Sense. In fact, I only had one direct encounter that stands out in my memories.
As a young kid, my parents did not let me watch horror movies or anything scary. Likewise, they weren’t prone to tell me scary stories about ghosts, ghouls, vampires, monsters, etc. It wasn’t until I was closer to the age of 10 that I was really allowed to watch any kind of scary movie but my experience with Herman happened long before I reached that age.
I was 6 or 7 years old. The front door of our house had two doors, a glass door and a heavy steel door. On this particular day, it had been a rainy day in the summer. The steel door was open and I sat in front of the glass door playing with my cars where I could look out through the door into our front yard and watch the rain.
As the rain slowed down and the sun faded into night, I looked through the glass door and saw a shadowy figure shaped like a man standing in our yard. The figure stood practically directly in front of me and was turned so that it was looking straight at me too. There were no discernible details in the figure’s appearance that I could make out but it was clear that something that looked like a man was in our yard and looking back at me.
I called out to my mother, who was nearby watching TV. I told her I saw someone in the front yard but he looked odd. She asked what I meant and I described the shadowy figure. To my surprise, my mother just calmly replied, “oh yeah, that’s just Herman.” She said it so matter-of-factly that I was dumbfounded. I remember looking back over my shoulder at my mother, stunned by her casual mention of this mysterious Herman, but when I looked back out the glass door the shape was gone. I told my mother that the shape was gone and she was like, “yeah Herman does that. He shows up from time to time but doesn’t usually stay long.”
Again, as a young child, I was absolutely stunned and shocked by what I was hearing. I struggled to process my mother’s revaluation but in seeing Herman for myself, it opened me up for inclusion into a bigger conversation. It seemed that many people in my family had encounters with Herman over the years.
For the most part, Herman was very polite. Nobody ever mentioned Herman doing anything that would cause anyone harm but it did seem as if Herman had a penchant for thievery. Jewelry would randomly go missing within minutes of it being taken off. Toys would disappear overnight from our rooms. On the rare occasion, things would be moved from one location to another. Nothing like stacking chairs or rearranging furniture but things we put in one place would be found the next morning somewhere else.
But the story about Herman that has most stood out for me after all these years is my brother’s encounter. My brother and I had our own rooms in the house. Herman wasn’t really a common topic of conversation in our house. Only when someone mentioned something unusual would Herman’s name be mentioned as a possible source or cause but one day, many years later, my brother and I started talking about our experiences with Herman.
I confessed that I had not seen Herman but that one time as a young kid and that I often questioned that experience. My brother reassured me that my experience was real and then went on to describe his experience.
I can’t remember how old my brother was at the time of the encounter. He talked about being asleep in his room and waking up with the feeling that he was being watched. He opened his eyes and as they adjusted to the darkness he saw a shadowy figure sitting on the foot of his bed looking at him.
My brother jumped, shocked by the apparition’s appearance in his bedroom. From there, he said the figure calmly stood up, turned toward the wall that the bed was pushed against, and proceeded to walk through the bed and then the wall. My brother, who is a few years older than me, admitted that he was a bit scared by the unexpected sighting and that he made no effort to follow the mysterious shape to see where it went. The fact that there was a strange shape in his room in the middle of the night was creepy enough but then add to it the fact that the shape walked through his bed and then a solid wall was enough to keep my otherwise strong-willed brother safely tucked in his bed.
My parents claimed to have had a few encounters with this figure they dubbed Herman but in truth we don’t know what this figure’s name was or even if the figures we’ve seen are all the same apparition. But my parents, who still live in the same house after all these years, say that they’ve not had an encounter, a sighting, or even any missing or moved objects that would have been attributed to Herman in years. Was Herman there because kids lived there and he moved on after we moved out? I don’t know. All I know is that to this day I can still see that shadowy figure in my head that I saw through the glass door that rainy summer day and that I can still remember the sincerity, almost fear, in my brother’s voice as he recalled his jarring encounter with Herman in his bedroom.
Was Herman a ghost? Was Herman just a figment of our minds that manifested similarly enough that we considered them the same thing in an effort to make it real or to explain it away? I can’t say. I don’t know what Herman is/was or what it was that I saw through the door or what my brother saw in his bedroom but they were definitely both experiences that left us either as believers or at a minimum open to the possibility that there is more out there.