Without a doubt, we would not be in our house today were it not for Kerrin Shettle. In late 2003 we decided it was time to buy a home and had begun to look online, with occasional drive-bys of the most promising listings. The property had to fit several criteria: a quiet dirt road (safer for the animals), room for gardens, and the house itself had to appeal to us aesthetically.

This house looked right, on paper, and from the road. But how to proceed? Buying a first home is a terrifying prospect. Luckily for us, Kerrin, a realtor in Petaluma, CA and a close friend of Cheryl and Cathleen, was staying with them for a few days after Christmas. We went out for a visit with a list of “what if” questions.

Kerrin—a wonderful, passionate person—doesn’t believe in “what ifs.” She picked up the phone and called the realtor. After asking a number of questions, Kerrin hung up and told us the realtor, Gail, would be waiting for us at the house that afternoon. The rest, as they say, is history.

One of the questions Kerrin asked Gail was if the house (given that it was over 250 years old), had ghosts. I’m sure realtors encounter all kinds of people and Gail took the question in stride (although I don’t know what her answer was…or what the best answer would be. Is it good or bad to have ghosts in the house? I think Kerrin might say it depends on the ghost).

A few days ago Cherisse and I watched the last two Harry Potter movies (we waited until both parts were on dvd). They were my favorite of all the movies, and truest to the books. I loved the part when Harry calls his loved ones, using the Resurrection Stone, to give him courage to meet death.

Walking the dogs in the woods this afternoon I had a fleeting sense I’d seen my mother’s dog, Charlie. He was an Australian Kelpie who lived with us the last couple of years of his life. It was just Koa and Oliver, chasing a scent, but for that second I thought I saw Charlie running with them.

My father’s presence was also felt today. In preparing for a meeting next week, I read through some old reports of his, with his near illegible scrawl running across some of the pages. And I called one of his dear friends, who gave me information and insight.

As with many unknowns, I am not prepared to take a firm stand on the existence of ghosts. I believe the dead are still present in some way, if only in our hearts and minds. Oliver thinks something lives in the dining room (which happens to be in the oldest part of the house), and from time to time stares nervously into the darkened room. The stereo is in there, so most likely he remembers odd noises from the speakers, and just imagines another presence. But he may be right.

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