This morning I awoke from a beautiful dream.
Turning over to look at my alarm clock, at the moment it must have clicked for me to get up, without me even having heard it, I realised I was awake and that it had just been a dream. Not any old dream, though. One of those special ones that you find your mind drifting back to over and over again during the course of the day. Straightaway I knew it had that same quality as some of the dreams I’ve had over the years, peppered with images or feelings so vivid, comforting or simply pleasant, that I can still recall them today.
In this most recent dream, I was enjoying a Christmas celebration with my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandma. It’s not clear to my memory whether or not it was actually Christmas. Apparently, my great-grandma was about to go to the north of England, so it is quite likely that the celebration was being held at a different time. Paradoxically, I don’t think great-grandma was moving there, yet I had such a sense that her stay there, for whatever reason, was due to be long, which made me feel I would never see her again. Naturally, I was feeling upset, but I was determined to put a brave face on it to make the most of the occasion.
I think there was a table with food on. Elsewhere, there was a row of chairs against a wall that my great-grandma and some of the others were sitting on, when I went to thank her for my present. Otherwise images of the environment are sketchy. The present was a box of shop bought mince pies and another box – possibly containing a sweet treat based on Christmas cake? She told me my grandfather must have chosen well, so presumably he must have done the shopping on her behalf.
There are a few things about the dream that aren’t realistic, like my great-grandma intending to move up north, since I don’t remember her having any connections there or any desire to move anywhere. The presents weren’t typical of the sorts of presents great-grandma gave, and the baked goods were shop bought. Great-grandma used to give me toys – some hand-made – and other things that little girls like. As for cakes and sweet treats, including Christmas ones, they tended to be baked either by my grandma or great-grandma. It seems strange that great-grandma would get grandpa to shop for her. If she wanted anything, I’m inclined to think she would have asked her daughter first.
Yet there are other things which chime recognition with me. I mean I LOVE Christmas cake! And there was something about the table, I can’t quite grapple back to memory, which makes me think of the boat of pick ‘n’ mix sweets on the table on the first Christmas Day without great-grandma being there. At the time I had a feeling that grandma was really trying to make an extra effort since great-grandma had always made Christmases so special.
I lost my grandfather in 2011, and my grandmother in 2012, and it is now within days of the 23rd anniversary of my great-grandma’s death. So one of the things that makes the dream poignant is that it created a scene in which my family, as I knew it when I was a little girl growing up, celebrated together again. Is it because the anniversary is so close that I dreamed of great-grandma? Or did I dream of great-grandma and my grandparents simply because I look at photos of them all every night before I go to bed? But why that dream? And why on this morning? Who knows? But there is one thing I haven’t told you about the dream yet, the thing that strikes me most about it…
In the dream great-grandma seemed different to me. It was only after having been awake an hour or so that it all fell into place for me. I can’t believe it took me so long to realise: great-grandma was completely free of the Alzheimer’s that sucked so much away from her in her final years. And something that really touched me was the way she and I conversed like a pair of adults. I loved her so much and have often wondered over the years what our relationship would have been like after I became an adult. I’ve wondered what things we would have discussed about the wider world; I’ve wondered what she would have thought of my flowers and whether she might have had any helpful gardening tips; I’ve wondered what she would have thought about my music and my art. My Mum says great-grandma would have loved my crocheting. Though she didn’t tend to crochet, she was absolutely brilliant at needlecrafts and is an inspiration to me in them, as she is in so many things to this day.
When the dream ended, I didn’t feel the same disappointment I often do when I realise a lovely dream has been nothing but a dream. Instead, I felt lucky. Fortunate to have been given such a gift, a gift to carry along with me.
It was a beautiful dream.