In 1955, Gregory Gilbert, a wealthy stock investor, hired architect Harris Jefferies to design a home that would stand out even in a city as amazing as Manhattan. Jefferies began his career working under Frank Lloyd Wright in his Wisconsin studio known as Taliesin. However, after one year, Wright could no longer tolerate Jefferies’ arrogance and sent him packing. Undeterred, Jefferies opened his own studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico and soon attracted a number of people interested in having him design their buildings. Jefferies completed Gregory Gilberts’s home in December of 1955 to much acclaim. To this day it is still known as the House of Gilbert.
In August of 2019, Ronald and Sandra Watchman purchased the home and decided to perform a complete restoration. From inside and out, the couple devoted an enormous sum of money to the project. They were determined to bring back the splendor that had seeped away over the many decades since the home was built. Ronald and Sandra, along with their two children, Jacob, ten, and Marsha, twelve, moved into the home in May of 2020. Soon after the move, the shit hit the fan: Ronald was lost at sea and was presumed to have died.
Ronald was the president and CEO of his family’s vast real estate company. He was also known as a man who loved to take on adventurous challenges: he climbed Everest and almost lost his life in an avalanche; he trekked to the South Pole, and lost part of his right foot to frostbite; he kayaked down some of the most dangerous rivers on earth, which led to numerous hospital stays; but the one thing he dreamt of doing kept slipping away from him. Then in July of 2021, in a total surprise to his family, he said goodbye and set off on his last adventure – sailing alone around the world. By August he had disappeared and was never heard from again. His family assumed he had died from a strong storm that swept through the area of the Pacific where Ronald was sailing.
Sandra had known from the start that Ronald was irresponsible when it came to the risks he took with his life. She accepted the fact that he may not live to see his children grow into adults. Quite frankly, she wasn’t that upset at the news of his disappearance. After many attempts to try and get him to listen to reason about his adventures, she gave up and planned her life accordingly. She had steeled herself against all eventualities.
After Ronald’s death, Sandra thought of selling the grand home she lived in, but her children loved it, and it was so close to the private school they attended. And there was a certain charm the home had that she grew fond of. Plus, after all the work she and Ronald put into it, it seemed a shame to give it up. So, at thirty-five years of age, Sandra started a new life for herself and her children. Little did she know that their lives were going to get very interesting, very quickly.
One morning in early September, Jacob approached his mother who was on her computer in her home office and said, “Mommy, I’ve been hearing noises coming from the top floor. I went up there and I could hear footsteps in the storage room.”
“Jacob dear, the house is old, so it has many old pipes which are probably making noise. It’s nothing to worry about. I’ll call the plumber to have them check on them,” she said reassuringly.
The next morning, Sandra sat down at her computer and noticed a handwritten note that said, “Good morrow to thee, Sandra. I have no intention of causing alarm, but I have resolved to take up residence here for a fortnight or more. I assure you, no harm shall befall anyone, and your offspring are secure. I merely require a brief reprieve from the ceaseless perambulation I am obliged to undertake. 'Tis been an age since I had a haven where I could simply repose in tranquility. I shall endeavor to maintain silence as much as possible. I extend my gratitude. And indeed, I am a spirit.” The note was signed, Abigail Wentworth.
Rather than being frightened by the prospect of a ghost taking up residence in her home, Sandra thought it was rather quaint that this ghostly woman decided to take refuge with her family. Sandra quickly did a search for her new tenant and found an Abigail Wentworth who was born in Darby, Delaware on June 18, 1711, and died on June 18, 1767. Could this be her? And do I tell the children? Sandra wondered.
Sandra decided to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and have a bit of a chat with her new boarder before Jacob and Marsha returned home from school. She went up to the top floor of her home where Jacob had heard what he thought were footsteps. Sandra stood in front of the storage room door and said, “Abigail are you there? I got your message.”
A soft voice from within the storage room replied, “Yes, I am here.”
Sandra waited for Abigail to emerge from the room, but nothing happened. Finally, Sandra said, “I’m not frightened of you, so you can come out, if you want to.” Abigail slowly emerged through the door and floated there dressed as if she had just come from a fancy party.
Sandra stood there looking at this half visible, half invisible apparition floating above the floor and felt almost speechless. “I can’t believe this is real,” Sandra said.
“I have been thinking that since I died. I am not at all certain as to what happened to me, but I caught some terrible malady and suffered for days. Then I was gone. For some inexplicable reason, my spirit kept on without my body. And here I am hundreds of years later, and I am talking to you. You are the first person who has taken an interest in me,” Abigail explained.
“I’m so sorry,” Sandra said, as she began to feel sad for Abigail’s centuries-long predicament.
“I keep hoping that my ghost phase will come to an end, but it is not looking as if it ever will,” Abigail stated sadly.
“I wish there was something I could do to help you find the peace you are searching for. It doesn’t seem right,” Sandra said in a melancholy tone of voice.
“No, it certainly does not feel right at all,” Abigail stated.
Sandra walked to a door across the hallway and opened it. “I want you to be as comfortable as you can be as long as you are here. This will be your room until you leave.”
Abigail floated in and looked around. “This is beautiful. You’re being very kind to an old ghost, and I appreciate it. I certainly didn’t expect to be treated with such hospitality and kindness.” She floated over and looked out of the window. “What astonishing changes have occurred to the world since I died. It’s overwhelming, really. I have no idea what to make of it all.”
“Yes, even to those of us who are living through the changes. Well, I’ll leave you for now as Jacob and Marsha will be home soon. I’ll introduce you to them later tonight, if that would be alright for you,” Sandra states.
“Will they be frightened of me?” Abigail asked.
“No, they’ll probably like you very much,” Sandra replied.
“Then I would be very pleased to meet them,” she stated.
Sandra made her way down to the kitchen as Abigail began to look around the room. She thought to herself, how unexpectedly nice this is. Her ghost body floated down onto the bed, and she sighed deeply.
When Marsha and Jacob arrived home from school, Sandra sat them down and told them about Abigail. And, as Sandra expected, they were delighted to have a ghost visitor in the house. But then, out of the blue, days went by, and Abigail seemed to have disappeared from their home. “Maybe she just didn’t like our home,” Marsha stated.
But no, Abigail wasn’t gone from their home. One night during dinner, she floated into the kitchen and startled the family. “Oh, we thought you were no longer with us. But welcome back,” Sandra said.
“I did not really go anywhere, I just wanted to have some time to myself in your beautiful home. And you must be Jacob and Marsha. How nice to make your acquaintance,” Abigail said.
Jacob and Marsha sat wide-eyed with disbelief and excitement that a real ghost was floating around their kitchen. An hour after dinner, and once the excitement over their new guest died down, the three family members sat by the fireplace in the living room and were mesmerized as they listened to Abigail recount her story of being a ghost. Suddenly, Marsha began to cry. Abigail asked, “What’s the matter, child?”
Marsha replied, "Well, it’s so sad. You aren’t really a part of our world, and you can’t seem to find your way to wherever we go once we die. We have to help you.”
Jacob added, “It’s not fair. Abigail shouldn’t be all alone, roaming the earth as a ghost forever.”
Abigail smiled and stated, “Thank you all so much for your concern over my plight, but, unfortunately, I do believe that roaming the earth alone is my fate for eternity. It is not your problem to solve.”
“Oh, yes it is. We are making it our problem,” Sandra stated emphatically.
After the kids went to bed and Abigail floated up to her room to do whatever ghosts do when alone, Sandra got on her computer and asked an AI chatbot about how to help a ghost get back to the afterlife. One solution stood out – set up a very peaceful environment for the ghost, which, hopefully, will allow the ghost to return to the spirt world. Sandra thought to herself, it’s worth a try.
The next morning, Sandra called an audio company and had them come over and install twenty speakers in their family room. She wanted to be totally surrounded by sound. That afternoon, Sandra and Abigail sat on the floor, candles burning, with the best mediative music she could find drifting out of the newly installed speakers. When Jacob and Marsha came home, they joined in on the meditation. After dinner they started up again and meditated until bedtime.
“Do you think it is helping, “Abigail asked.
“It might be too soon to tell. But we can take as long as necessary to work on your problem. I’m confident we can help you,” Sandra stated.
That Saturday, after breakfast, they were all at it again – candles and mediative music. When it was time for lunch, they all headed up to the kitchen when Jacob noticed something. “I think it’s working. Look, Abigail seems to have faded a bit.”
Marsha looked at Abigail, “Jacob, you’re right it is working.”
Abigail looked at her ghostly self, “do you think so? Oh, I hope you are right.”
“Let’s have a fast lunch then back to our meditation session,” stated Sandra.
After lunch, they quickly headed down to the family room and were soon enveloped by the mediative spirit. For some inexplicable reason, they all were able to sit quietly for hours on end, eyes shut, concentrating on experiencing the mediative feeling. It was dinner time before they knew it.
“It is working. Abigail, you are fading away from us,” Sandra stated.
“Well, eat swiftly, then we must return to our, what do you call it?” Abigail asked.
“Meditation,” replied Jacob.
Sandra made some easy sandwiches, they all ate fast, and dashed back down to the family room. Sandra was getting ready to put on another session of quiet meditation music, when Marsha stated, “No, it’s time for something different. Something faster.”
Sandra replied, “no dear, we’ve been doing very. . .”
Marsha interrupted her mother, “No mother. We are going to put on my favorite music. I’m sure I am right.” Marsha was a fanatic over EDM, so she put on one of her favorite mixes – two hours of dance. Talk about being surrounded by music.
Marsha began to dance as the others watched her. Soon Jacob joined in. Sandra looked at Abigail wondering what she could possibly make of this kind of music. But Abigail, seeing what the children were doing, began to move to the music. Sandra stood there for a few minutes watching, then her old club days kicked in and she was dancing with the rest of them. It was a frenzy of EDM – arms were waving, feet were dancing, and eyes were closed. A half hour went by, then an hour, then two hours, and suddenly the music stopped, and they all collapsed on the floor, exhausted. They opened their eyes and looked around. Abigail was gone.
“Do you think we scared her away with my music?” Marsha asked.
“Maybe she went back upstairs,” Jacob said as he rushed out of the family room followed by Marsha. They got to the top floor in a flurry of speed and pushed open the door to her room. “She’s not here,” Marsha stated. They went across the hall and knocked on the storage room door.
“Abigail are you in there,” Jacob asked. But there was no answer.
“Abigail, Abigail, where are you,” Marsha shouted. Silence.
They went back to the family room where Sandra sat on the couch smiling. “I do believe she found her way home. We did it, guys. Let’s go celebrate.”
Fifteen minutes later they were at their favorite ice cream shop. They sat around a small table – Jacob was digging into a big hot fudge sundae; Marsha was drinking a thick, chocolate malt; and Sandra had a large root beer float. “We really did something spectacular this weekend. It feels exhilarating. I haven’t felt this alive in a long time. And I’m proud of how you guys jumped in to help our ghost friend,” Sandra stated.
Later that night, Jacob and Marsha were asleep with their mother in a very nice king-sized bed. Before falling asleep they all agreed to keep their encounter with Abigail a family secret, at least for a while. And Abigail Wentworth, who died on June 18, 1767, and who spent 256 years wandering the earth alone, finally made it home. Rest in peace, Abigail.