In 1948, when I was ten years old, my brother Hughie Cogan was dating a girl named Nora Carter. After Hughie brought Nora to our house to meet the family, she seemed like another big sister to me.
I had three older sisters, but Nora was special because she treated me special. While my own sisters would complain to Mother when I wanted to go with them wherever they might be going.
Nora always asked me to come along. Nora lived in the town of Sciotoville, Ohio, while we lived some fifteen miles away in the tiny village of Wheelersburg. But Nora often found a way to pop in for a Sunday visit even when she didn’t have a special date with my brother.
I came to love Nora and was always overjoyed when she showed up on an impromptu visit. Unfortunately, Nora came for a visit one Sunday without first getting her mother’s permission. When late in the evening she called home, her mother was distraught. She came immediately and took Nora home. After that Nora was forbidden to visit us.
Six months later, in April 1949, we all were chocked and saddened when we read Nora’s obituary in the newspaper. She had died of leukemia. Shortly, after Nora’s death I went to live with my grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Hughie Boggs of Franklin Furnace, Ohio, for the summer.
Imbued with fundamentalist religious beliefs, I worried that Nora might not have been “saved” before she died. I became obsessed with grief for her passing and concern about her welfare.
One afternoon late in the summer my grandparents and I were sitting on the porch. Grandpa was reading the bible to us; Grandma was mending some clothing and I was sitting on the step.
Rising from her rocker, Grandma said, “I believe someone is coming up the path. We should go out to meet them.” When I looked up, I saw Nora coming up the path! “Oh, Grandma, it’s Nora!” I shouted.”Don’t get up.
I’ll go out to meet her.” I ran up to her and took her hand. “Oh, Nora, I’m so glad to see you,” I said. “Please tell me where you have been.” “That’s the reason I came, honey,” she replied. “I wanted to tell you I’ve been in Heaven. I have to go back now.”
Suddenly Nora was no longer there and, as if by magic, I was perched back on the porch step. Grandpa was still reading the Bible and Grandma was still sewing. Neither of them seemed to be aware of the visit which had been so real to me.
I don’t know what happened that day. Perhaps I had a dream or a vision. Perhaps my subconscious solved a problem that had perplexed my young mind for nearly three months. But I like to believe that Nora actually paid me one last impromptu visit.
St. Petersburg, Florida