It’s been decades now since I had that terrifying nightmare. I had all but forgotten about it until a friend and I recently had a discussion about dreams and their meanings.
As anyone who knows me well or has spent more than 10 minutes with me over the past year or so knows, I was very close to my grandparents (something that has served me very well in my work with seniors). I grew up hearing their stories about growing up in Western Kentucky before they moved to the boomtown of Akron, Ohio, now over 100 years ago. At the suggestion of an aunt, I purchased a tape recorder and began recording those stories—which I recently turned into an award-winning series of books. But this was long before that.
Due to a major recession, there was little to no work available in Northeast Ohio after I graduated from Kent State University. As a result, like my grandparents before me, I packed up my things and headed for a boomtown in search of gainful employment. Whereas my grandparent had once chosen Akron, I headed for Houston. There, finding ample opportunities, I began my first steps into the world of advertising, which would eventually lead to a 20-year career as a copywriter.
I can still clearly see the apartment bedroom where I awoke that morning in an absolute panic. It was and remains the most terrifying nightmare I’ve ever experienced. I dreamed that my grandmother had died. And I was walking around with her in my arms trying to take her home. Eventually, I found myself in a darkened movie theater where I sat down, still holding her in my arms, sobbing uncontrollably as “Gone With the Wind” played upon the screen. It was the only way I could find to take her back to the home she once knew.
When I awoke, I was absolutely distraught. As soon as I could pull myself back together I picked up the phone and called my grandparents, afraid of what I would learn. Much to my relief, everything was fine. No problems of any kind. They were both happy to hear from me. We had a wonderful visit. Eventually, I hung up the phone, glad that my dream had no basis in reality, and went about my day.
That following week, however, my grandmother slipped and fell on a throw rug, broke her hip, went into the hospital and was never the same again. That phone call would be the last conversation I had with the grandmother I knew and loved.
Perhaps these were my first tentative steps along that gray mile, doing my best to care for the elders that I loved. Pay attention to your dreams. Your premonitions. Your feelings of vague uneasiness. They can prove to be very real. And while they may not save the ones you love from the paths they have to take, you can take heart in knowing that you did the best you possibly could.