Quite a long time ago I wrote in my diary, “George is a spook”. I wasn’t quite sure what I meant by that. Then, in one of the better GG bios, I read this:
“As Ira grew older, he became not less but more obsessed with George. When he was in his eighties, Michael Feinstein, who had become something of a surrogate son to him, heard him talking to George in his sleep. These were, according to Feinstein, “lengthy conversations” that were “often filled with anger, centering around Ira’s desire not to stay here on earth and George’s insistence that he stay”. Just before Ira’s death in 1983, he revealed to Feinstein in a hushed voice something he had never told anyone else. Shortly after George’s passing, he had looked into his brother’s workroom upstairs at 1019 North Roxbury and seen him “sitting on the sofa, smiling and nodding to me. It terrified me. I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t drunk. But I saw him.”
This may have started the whole thing for me, because I had consciously forgotten it. George died in 1937, Ira in 1983. It looks like maybe the one who was “stuck” was Ira, and George was trying to help him get unstuck. Ironic, since GG went far too soon, and because of the horrific manner of his dying, didn’t really know what was happening to him. Ira was a very practical, down-to-earth businessman who just happened to be a genius lyricist, and this wasn’t some wraithlike, ghostly apparition, but GG sitting happily in his workroom, his sanctuary and favorite place, smiling and nodding: “see, I’m OK, don’t worry about me.” Ira unfortunately had the same reaction to “ghosts” that most people do: terror, and thinking “I’m going crazy”. It’s interesting this wasn’t just an impression but a real 3D, solid appearance of someone who was dead. I also had the thought, though, that GG always kept his wounded side turned away from view, and it could be that he was appearing to be happy for Ira’s sake. Understandable, if Ira wanted to die. They protected each other to an extraordinary degree.
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