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.

Shirley  Armstrong

St.  Petersburg, Florida

 January 1983

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