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This, like all good ghost stories, is a true story. <Imagine me telling this story around a campfire with a flashlight on my face....>

My mom swears she encountered a ghost once.

She dated this guy who bought and restored an old house.

First, you have to know how he got the house.

Sometime around 1920, give or take, a fairly well-off man built his young wife a brand new house in Hampton, VA. It was pretty grand--maybe 4500 to 5000 square feet--and looked out over Hampton Roads, which is a channel where the James River and the Elizabeth River flow into the Chesapeake Bay. It had a beautiful curving staircase inside, and a big deep front porch that wrapped part way around the house, and the master bedroom on the second floor had a balcony where you could stand and look out over the water.

The lady lived there her whole life and by all accounts had a good life, including 3 children, all boys. At some point her husband died, but she continued to live there. Finally, she was, by all accounts, very old, but apparently still in pretty good health, but the care and upkeep of the big house was too much for her and the house was really needing a lot of work. She was having trouble getting up and down the stairs, and had had a couple of minor falls.

The sons, who all lived in different parts of the country, implored her to downsize and move in with one of them, or at least into a small apartment. She kept refusing.

Finally, the kids decided that they needed to do something about mom, and they decided to come in and all get together and try to convince her to move. No dice. After a long conversation, she told them she didn't want to move, this was the house her husband built for her and she wanted to stay.

The next evening, the sons were sitting around the kitchen table trying to decide what to do, and one of them suggested that maybe they'd have to have her declared incompetent and make the decision for her. Well, mom overheard, and apparently she told them that the only way she'd leave the house was if she were dead, and that was all that she had to say about it.

And she went upstairs, to her bedroom with the lovely view of the water, got into bed, and died that night.

<cue creepy music...>

Months later, my mother's boyfriend bought the house fairly cheap, given its condition, but of course it was still quite a bit, given the times, and I have to think that one reason the kids wanted to oust mom was because of the value of the property, especially there on the water. He did a lot of the work himself, but also had some borders/roommates to help with some of the costs. (It was always an interesting bunch of people--men and women--I was in high school at the time, and they were all artists and musicians and writers, stuff like that and fun to hang out with. A lot of them would help with the work painting and refinishing, etc in lieu of part of the rent. That would have been about 1979-1982 or so, so think a late hippy-ish vibe....)

But every so often, the borders--it was always a woman--swore that she felt a presence in the house. It was never a male border. They'd report they smelled perfume, or heard footsteps when no one was in the house, and one swore they heard old-timey music playing from the attic. Nothing bad every happened, but it was just always this feeling that someone else was around when no one was.

One morning my mom was staying over, and her boyfriend had found a box down in the basement. He'd brought it upstairs and it was sitting on the kitchen table. My mom started to poke through it and found a really pretty china cup and saucer, very old fashioned, and just one. She took it out and washed it and set it on the table.

She made herself some toast and was sitting at the table eating it, and all of a sudden she smelled perfume and felt a presence in the room. And the china cup and saucer slid over toward her on the table, about 6 inches, and my mom swears she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was a friendly hand, giving her a gentle squeeze.

And then it was gone.

My mom says it was the ghost of the lady who died, and it was her favorite coffee cup, which my mom used when she was at the house (though she left it there when she stopped seeing that guy). She never felt the presence again.
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