January 2004 Page 14
The Ghost of Mr.
by Jean F.
When my husband and I first realized we were in love, and were spending every night together anyway, we decided that we should find a house that would be "ours" together. Money for the both of us was rather scarce at the time and, when I learned that my younger brother, Bobby, wanted to move from where he was living as well, the three of us began looking for a suitable place to live with our pooled funds.
We had all decided that we wanted a place in "the country" - one with at least three bedrooms, so that my brother, my daughter and my future husband and I could each have a private space. When I found an ad in the local newspaper for a four-bedroom farmhouse on a sheep ranch about 25 miles out of town, for a very reasonable price, we jumped at the chance!
The former family home of the Franchetti family was roomy and homey, and afforded a pastoral view of the rolling coastal hills of Northern California. John Franchetti was friendly and cordial as he explained how his father, a long-distance truck driver, and his mother raised him and his two younger brothers in the solidly constructed, old farmhouse; and how, since his fathers death, his mother had found it increasingly difficult to keep up the place alone. We rented the house on the spot.
Not long after we moved in, the first wind and rainstorm of the winter set in. My brother went outside "to walk around and check things out" as I set about stoking up the fireplace and making dinner for the four of us. Bobby returned from his sojourn with a very odd look on his face; and, when I inquired of him what had happened outside, he looked sheepish and said, "Well, youre not going to believe me, but I think I just saw a ghost."
At my prompting, Bobby explained that he had been standing by the fence outside, when he noticed a man walking up the hill in the pasture. He described the man as not too tall, with a swarthy complexion, wearing a navy blue "pea jacket" and a stocking cap. As the man approached, Bobby noted a look of concern on the man's face, as if he was worried about the storm, the welfare of the sheep, or the ranch in general. Thinking that this was one of John Franchetti's brothers come to see about the place, Bobby hailed him in a friendly fashion; but the man acted as if he neither heard nor saw Bobby at all! The man passed right in front of Bobby, within just a few feet and continued his walk up the hill. "But the weird part was, as I watched him walk away," Bobby told us, "he just vanished into thin air!"
Bobby insisted he was quite serious about what he had seen. In an effort to lighten the mood, I said, "Well, we must have a ghost, then. Maybe it's Mr. Franchetti... He passed away not too long ago, while living in this house. Perhaps I should set another place at the table!" And we all laughed and sat down to dinner.
Bobby saw "Mr. Franchetti" a few times in the ensuing months, always with the same concerned expression on his face, whenever a storm came up, or one of the sheep appeared to be ill, or when other potentially hazardous events would transpire. At times, I would catch a glimpse of the figure of a man out of the corner of my eye as I passed through the living room; but, if I turned to look more carefully, there was no one there! He appeared to me to be gazing out through the front door screen (or one of the front windows) at the driveway in front of the house, almost as if he was expecting visitors.
If I subsequently looked outside myself, within a few seconds, invariably some visitor or other would come down the driveway, just as "Mr. Franchetti" had expected!
I wasnt really frightened by Mr. Franchetti. On the contrary, I felt as though he was "looking out for the place" by checking on things when some unusual situation would arise around the ranch, or when someone he didnt know came on the property. I felt as though he was a kind of "guardian spirit," and actually felt more secure about my daughter playing outside knowing he was there!
At times, though, it was slightly disconcerting have a ghost around the house; like the time I put a small end table by the front door... I had to move it again when I caught another glimpse of Mr. Franchetti, standing by the front door with the lower half of his body in the table! That was just too strange for me to handle...
Many times while living there, one of us would call home, and after a few rings, someone (or something?) would answer the phone, but not utter a single word! Later we would discover that no one was home when we had called... Was Mr. Franchetti trying to take a message, or was he simply disturbed by the constant ringing of the phone?
During our second year in the house, a friend of John Franchettis named Rob remodeled one of the farm outbuildings into a studio apartment. He had been a childhood friend of Johns and had known Mr. Franchetti very well. I cautiously divulged our encounters with what I felt was the ghost of Mr. Franchetti to Rob, and put forth my "guardian spirit" theory. Rob immediately discounted my idea saying, He was a long distance trucker and never spent hardly any time around the place! It didnt seem to me as though he cared a whit about the ranch when he was alive. It makes no sense that he would care about it now!"
I didnt say anything to Rob, but, for me, his statement about the departed Mr. Franchetti explained exactly why Mr. Franchetti still inhabited the Franchetti Ranch.
I have heard that spirits of the departed find it difficult to leave this plane whenever they feel as though they have "unfinished business" here on the earth. I feel as though Mr. Franchetti was doing in spirit what he felt he did not do in life - hang around and watch after the property.
Many years later, quite by accident, I ran into a young woman that I discovered had also been a tenant at the Franchetti Ranch some time after we moved out. When I asked her if she or anyone who had lived with her at the time had ever noticed anything strange happen there, a look of surprise came over her face. She told me that, while she, her sister, and her sisters boyfriend (who lived together in the house at the time) had never really considered whether they believed in ghosts before, they had all seen a figure of a rather short, dark haired older man who wore a heavy dark jacket walking around the place! She added, "...But we came to the conclusion that it wasn't a scary ghost - more like he was just seeing after the place..."
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