I awoke this morning about 1:45 AM – which is nothing unusual at this stage of life. But tonight, I woke up in a very different way. I was very vividly dreaming about the house I grew up in, the house my Mom and Dad bought as a young couple, and that my mother lived in almost as long as a widow as a married woman. In the dream, Steve and I were living there. We were asleep in the back bedroom when I heard one of our dogs barking outside. Not knowing how they would have gotten out, I went to find them. I walked down the hall and reached to flip on the light switch. An electrical shock ran through my right arm, one of those where you can’t seem to let go, even when trying to pull hard against the current. Stupidly, when I finally did let go, I reached over to flip the switch off.
I looked over at where the recliners my Mom and Dad sat in would have been. Around the chair came both dogs, stretching and yawning as if they’d been asleep for hours. I looked to my left into the kitchen and saw the doors – the wooden door with the skeleton key and the screen door – wide open. It had been raining; I could see a puddle of water on the porch.
I awoke to our quiet house. Steve (and the dogs) sound asleep. But my right arm was tingling…and I’ve been pondering ever since what those open doors meant…and why we were living in that house…and why I needed to be shocked so badly at 1:45 AM.
A couple of weeks ago during one of my visits with Mom, she told me she had been dreaming about Gene, my father. The way she told me was unusual itself in that I can only remember a few times when she has ever called him by name to me since he died 40 years ago. It’s almost always been “Your Dad,” not “Gene.” Mom described how she was seeing this man that she thought was Dad, but he was not dressed like he normally dressed, which was confusing her. A few seconds later she looked at me and said, “I think I’m forgetting what he looked like.”
With all of the transitions Mom has faced since July, here is yet another. One that has nothing to do with loss of physical possessions, nothing to do with loss of independence and mobility, but everything to do with loss of relationships. Maybe I needed to be reminded tonight of the relationships built in and around that house in Fieldale. Maybe I needed to see a physical reminder of the many doors that opened in my life because of those who came and went across that back porch – and maybe I need to find the skeleton key to close the door on some of the memories. Maybe on this Thanksgiving weekend, I just need a shock to remind me to be grateful for the many, many blessings in my life. Maybe I just need to spend tomorrow looking at all of Mom’s pictures and scrapbooks that are now in my possession. Maybe….
Who knows the reason for this dream tonight? I am certain it is another lesson for me on aging. Those lessons come often these days, usually in the least expected ways. For tonight, in these early morning hours, I remember…and give thanks for open doors.
On left, my dad. On the right, Mom and Cael.