Many years ago we bought a house in south Richmond. The house was a rather grand brick house built on a small hill over looking Forest Hill Park in 1925 by Harvey and Edith Martin. Harvey and Edith lived a seemingly happy life in the house their entire married life, raised 5 sons and eventually died in the house at a ripe old age some time in the 1980's. Edith had died only a few years before we bought the place. Since then, another couple had bought the house and had fixed it up a bit before he was transferred.
The day we moved in was a busy one. We'd been going since dawn and finally the truck was empty, the boxes and furniture were waiting for us to get to them at our leisure and I was sitting on the front porch drinking a cold beer in the company of my 3 year old son Zach. It was dusk. The streetlights had just come on and my son says to me, "Daddy, who's that lady?" I asked him what lady he was talking about since the street in front of the house was completely deserted. "That lady, right there." I told him I didn't see anyone and asked him what she looked like. With a hint of frustration in his voice he said, "She's over there under the light, wearing a big dress...oh, she's gone now." I wasn't sure what to make of this.
At the time, my wife, Lynne, and I both worked. We hired Kathy to provide day care for Zach, our infant son Josh and the son of a neighborhood friend who was about the same age. One day I came home and Kathy was smiling and shaking her head. I asked her what was up. "You're not going to believe this, but I put Josh down for a nap this afternoon and when I went up to check on him, his blanket was on him." I looked confused so she explained. "His blanket wasn't in his bed. It was across the room." After that such occurrences seemed to become fairly common. Zach was older and in preschool so he was never home when these things happened. The teddy bear would end up in bed, the blanket would end up in bed or the rocking chair could be heard rocking from downstairs. When Kathy would go up to check, the chair would gradually slow to a stop.
My parents came to visit and have Thanksgiving dinner with us that first year. When they visited, they slept in what was a second master bedroom on the first floor that had been built off the dining room in the '50s when Harvey Martin started having a difficult time climbing the stairs. Lynne took great pride in making Thanksgiving dinner for my folks and particularly my mother whom she was always eager to impress. The dinning room was lit with candles. Two candles were on the table and half a dozen others were in several new sconces she'd bought to put on the walls. It was a wonderful dinner and we all had a great time. As we were cleaning up, I asked my oldest son Zach to help me blow out the candles. At five, this was a highlight of his day. I lifted him up and he blew out all six around the room and both candles on the table. Then he helped me carry the dishes into the kitchen. When I came back out, every single candle in the room was burning and no one else was or had been in the room. I can't explain it. Won't even try. I've never heard of such a thing happening, but have often wondered if Edith simply didn't want the evening to end.
Edith loved that house. Her husband had built it following her specifications. She'd raised five boys in that house and she's the only one I can think of who would be so attached to the house. Who or whatever the spirit was was always benevolent and genuinely seemed to be looking out particularly for the boys. There always seemed to be a good feeling to the place and, oddly, we always felt that we were the caretakers of Edith's home rather than our own. But that was okay with us. She was part of the family.