I have always been skeptical of imaginary friends, but my family has a long history with one that makes me a believer. My mom calls him an imaginary friend and her guardian angel, others may call him a poltergeist, but those who know the stories know him as Arnold.
When he was a child, Joe (my mom’s friend) created Arnold as his imaginary friend. Joe was later in a band, and when he toured, Arnold stayed with my mom and roommate. Eventually, Arnold lived with my mom until she married, so he came around less often until Joe passed away.
I was 8 or 9 when I experienced my first encounter. My younger brother claimed to see Arnold and said he had a large, round head that was orange like a basketball. A couple of years later, one of our roommates confirmed this description because he saw Arnold, too. Sometime later after moving again, another family member saw him standing in our living room.
When I was 13 or 14, I received a call at 2 a.m. from my dad. His girlfriend was hysterical after seeing Arnold standing in their kitchen at the table. I will never forget how terrified she was and consoling her. She described him as all the others, with a large, round orange head.
My mom describes him as her guardian angel. Arnold protected her from people who meant her harm or mistreated her. He was seen by many as a reminder that they were being watched and to treat her well.
When my mom was younger, she was working a lot and needed to do laundry and clean. She wanted to wash her bedspread and finally made time to do so. When she got home, it was done. No one else washed it, and it was beautiful. Years later, one night at work, Arnold dumped a strawberry daiquiri at a server who was irritating her.
I remember, at 15, taking a shower and seeing all the shampoos, conditioners, and soaps flying at me. Not falling into the tub; they were thrown horizontally at me. Knowing me, it was probably after an argument with my mom.
Arnold loved to move objects. He turned on TVs and lights when no one was around. He hid things in random places – you know, those places things would never end up – and especially my dad’s tools after their divorce. One night my dad called demanding me to pick up Arnold because he kept slamming the toilet seat down, over and over again. We visited my dad that day, and he swore we left him there.
One of my mom’s friends didn’t believe the stories and thought it was all a hoax. Her windshield wipers randomly came on for the next three days. She believed after that.
My mom fondly recalls seeing objects move across the counter and floor. I remember missing things and finding them in weird places like the oven. I was never scared though, mostly annoyed, and I embraced the idea we had a poltergeist who followed us.
Poltergeists are defined as noisy, usually mischievous ghosts, and no one is sure of the full story. It’s amazing that a manifestation from a child’s imagination can live decades and attach itself to one person or family. What began as an imaginary friend turned into a supernatural force that dozens of people can witness to and several have seen. I haven’t had any Arnold experiences since I was a teenager, but I’m sure now that we are talking about him, he’ll resurface again.
A very special thanks to my mom for the great stories, and we at RevPub hope everyone has a Happy Halloween week. Be sure to check in Wednesday for a very special post!