Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


what dreams can tell us

photo the author's

photo the author’s

In my dream last night, my mother was– once again — as she was when she was ‘herself.’ For those of us who suffer the horrors of Alzheimer’s, this is no small feat. It was years after my  mother’s death before I saw her as this picture shows her, and not as a skeletal shadow, silent in a bed far too large for her.

I don’t dream about my parents — or any of my much-missed departed — very often. But last night, my mother & I were at a dear friend’s house in Hawai’i, and my mother was her once-upon-a-time ebullient self, charmed by bright flowers and umbrella drinks. And my friend J’s 2-bedroom villa w/ lanai, surrounded by papaya and orange and lemon trees, somehow became a huge mansion, w/ suites for many visitors. Each room filled w/ people I know and love, almost none of them family.

2013-04-23 10.00.58

photo the author’s

I met my friend J through her daughter, one of my dearest friends. I’m actually smack dab between them — about 15 years up/down from each. So I don’t think of J as a mother figure. I do think of her home, however, as one of those rare places where I was immediately comfortable, and didn’t worry EVER about ‘being myself.’ And yes, you heard correctly: I ‘t feel that way only very rarely. And almost always only w/ family.

Digression: I believe in dreams. Whether you think they come from some ‘source’ (in which case my family would call them visions), or from deep inside our own complex knowings, I believe they speak truth to us. So when I woke up, recalling that my mother, in this dream, looked just like me when she turned away, I wondered what I needed to learn.

I know I’m at risk for Alzheimer’s. All four of us — my three sisters and I — live an uneasy truce w/ this knowledge. I’ve told my husband & sons my wishes should I progress badly, as my mother did.

That didn’t seem to be the root of this dream. I am a lot like my mother, and I don’t always acknowledge this. As with even the best of mother/daughter relationships (and ours was very very good), there are aspects of my mother I really don’t want to replicate. So some of my dream is acceptance of my own flightiness, my love of frivolous material objects (tea sets, charm bracelets, nice linens…). My dislike of confrontations, my silliness w/ children & animals.

via google

via google

But what about Hawai’i? And J? And my friend S, her daughter? What about the big house on the small island? What’s the point I’m supposed to get??

Dreams don’t speak linear logic. They have a language best listened to when you’re half asleep, obviously. So I’m trying to feel my way back to the centre of my dream, like Hansel &  Gretel following white stones in the dark. Feeling their way home.

And what I think is this: when I woke up, I missed my mother. Desperately. Because your mother will always love you. She’s loved you through diapers, through bad report cards, through teenage and bad choices and her own decline. Even at the end (and maybe after…?), she loves you. And your politics —  that in my case are so tightly wound through every thread of my beliefs — are fine w/ her. As they are w/ J & S, who loved me before I even knew it.

The other people in the house? The same. And that’s saying a LOT, because it was a big-ass house! :)

Seriously — I think my dream may well have been that simple. I miss my mother. Often. Because she loved me. And we all need that. Even grown-up grandmothers, whose own kids make fun of her deep love of them.

If you still have even a tiny shadow of your mother, grab her. Wrap your arms around her and inhale her, the way we do babies. She won’t last forever. But the love will.



Previous Posts

a bardo for Richard
My friend Richard died this week. Tuesday, to be precise. And in light of that precision, he was really my sister's friend, at least at first. But because we ended up talking across her FB page, we became friends

posted 4:48:57pm Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

foxholes
The word 'foxhole' has multiple meanings. First -- of course -- is the den foxes build for their young: a skulk of foxes. The other comes from WWI -- trench warfare, a hole to (hopefully) save your life. Today's

posted 9:03:25pm Oct. 28, 2014 | read full post »

vernacular scholars, pointy-heads, and regular folks: a tale of bewilderment ~
This is a story about what happens (far too often) when you have a PhD, or at least when folks find out you have a PhD (and I rarely confess to this!). It's the sad story of a culture where folks either react w/ ins

posted 8:43:15pm Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

autumn roses, a metaphor
In the spring, when my roses begin to bloom, it's wonderful: it means winter is over! And I'm always ready. But to be honest? The fall roses are more lovely. They're more fragrant, more vivid in colour, just overa

posted 3:47:34pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

a happy birthday for my beloved
If you've been following the blog, you know that my beloved broke his ankle about 6 weeks ago. He was unable to walk these past weeks, since the accident and the surgery. Noooo load-bearing on that foot, the doc said. And believe me: we were NOT happy about it. It's amazing what you can't do when yo

posted 5:50:32pm Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.