I think I saw a ghost at the foot of my bed two nights ago. It was three or four o'clock in the morning, a good time for ghosts, and I was awakened by someone impatiently tapping on my knee. I opened my eyes, peered into the darkness, and saw the transparent and whiteish-gray figure of an old woman standing there.
She was smiling and waving at me, with a nimbus of short, old-lady curls around her head, and wearing a flower-print dress. She looked like she was enjoying herself, just come to say hello. Then her image shimmered back into the darkness and she was gone.
I'm not sure if it was a dream or real. I had just been awakened from a deep sleep, so I was in a sort of half state. Our cat Henrik was lying on my side of the bed, and Dave was sleeping soundly. I can't imagine either one of them had tapped me on the knee so firmly.
I think it was my Aunt Gogo. I was telling a friend about Gogo just the other day, so the telling must have summoned her spirit to my bedside. Gogo was born Helga Johansson in southern Sweden, in 1895 or so, and moved to America with her parents when she was two years old. She was the first of six children, one of them being my grandma, Nana Mildred Dolly.
Gogo was a nurse in Depression-era Chicago and would visit tuberculosis patients at home. She and her husband John never had any children of their own, so they spent a lot of time with my mom and Aunt Jeannie, taking them on trips, out for dinner, on picnics, to the beach at Lake Michigan. They liked to have fun. Gogo wore a big fur coat.
I only met Gogo a few times, and by the time I met her, she was old, and then she died when I was 12 or so. It was only recently, talking about Gogo with my mom, that I realized how similar Gogo and I are, both of us urban, childless career women who like to have fun, and who discovered an artistic passion later in life. For me, it's writing, of course, and for Gogo it was painting. When Nana died, I got some of Gogo's paintings, which now hang on the walls of my apartment in Brooklyn.
Why, just the other day, I was in the kitchen, cooking, and poured myself a glass of wine. I lifted my glass to the painting on the wall, a nature scene on a forested mountain, and said "cheers" to Gogo. Gogo. I miss her. I was kind of hoping she would visit me again last night, but I slept soundly till morning.