The language of dreams is a peculiar one. It is undoubtedly a mystical language which I don't fully understand.
Often the content of my dreams leaves me baffled as to its significance (if there is any). My most outlandish dreams seem to contain some otherworldly messages that I can't decipher.
A few weeks ago (or was it months? I lose track of time), I had a dream about my maternal grandmother. She was a pivotal part of my childhood years. She filled a maternal void I did not even know I had.
Both of my parents were self-employed and worked long hours, six days a week. Summer break was a quandary they solved, for my older brother, by sending him to camp (for many weeks). An easy fix for my father who had done the same every summer as a child after the war.
The camp stories my sibling shared with me of razing and bullying by a herd of untamed boys left me terrified to follow in his footsteps.
Around age six or seven, there were parental discussions of sending ME to camp. I wanted none of it. I begged with all I had to not be sent to this summer prison.
While I cannot recall the nature of the talks, I most certainly remember the emotions engendered by this event. They are still vivid within me.
I viewed my not attending camp as a matter of survival. All I knew was that camp was Hell and I was not going.
I had a "nanny" who I called Auntie or "Tata" in French. My parents hired her to care for me when I was nine months old. Her job was to watch me Monday through Saturday until I could return home when my parents left work, in the best of cases at 7 pm.
Until that time, I had spent my summers with her. However, I was now older, and my parents were concerned about my being cooped up all summer long in a tiny apartment.
Her home was indeed small and although I have not seen it in decades, I am still very familiar with its layout as well as its contents. It was a three-room apartment well under 400 square feet, in a century-old building built before electricity or running water.
There was a bedroom, a tiny living room, and a small kitchen. No bathroom. There was a common toilet between floors. Baths were handled at the oversize sink in the kitchen or in a galvanized tub filled from the sink faucet.
Nevertheless, the apartment's size was irrelevant to me. This tiny home was a refuge, a place of peace and love; it was familiar and comforting no matter its shape or size. The kindly woman within its walls showered me with love as if I was her own and this was enough.
While my parents did not relent on me staying in the city, they did soften on my attending camp. Hallelujah!
The compromise was that instead of camp, I would be shipped 265 miles away to my grandparents who blessedly lived next door to my mother's youngest sister and two cousins a few years younger than me.
I adored my Mamie. She was a blue-eyed angel with wavy white hair (sometimes with a light blue tint). Despite the fact they were of small means, my grandparents were generous in their affection. They tended an extensive garden to supplement their table which Pépé (grandpa) cared for daily except for Sundays.
Mamie made me crèpes or other special desserts. She also sat on my bed at night and gave me a bowl of warm milk and honey or linden tea while we talked.
Monday morning was market day and my favorite day of the week for this very reason. I tagged along with my grandparents (or aunt) mesmerized by the fares displayed all around me from fresh produce to art, and just plain junk. The candy truck was a favorite.
When I visit my aunt, market day is still a highlight. Good times.
My beloved Mamie suddenly departed from this world four days after my eighteenth birthday. I still remember seeing her white and still, and shedding so many tears over her departure from this earth. I felt her absence so keenly. I still miss her and wish she could have met my husband and our children.
A few weeks ago, I dreamed about her. I was on the phone; one of those heavy, corded, rotary phones.
She came on the phone.
"Mamie. I haven't heard your voice in so long," I cried. "It is so good to hear your voice."
And then, I awoke.
With consciousness returning I wanted to hold on to the sound of that beloved voice buried somewhere within the recesses of my brain.
As I stated previously, the language of dreams is indeed a peculiar one.
The Language of Dreams: Tata
The day I wrote this post, it was my nanny who occupied my dreams.
The woman had a child out of wedlock some fifty years prior to my arrival. The boy was raised by her sister. He was now married and without kids (probably pushing 50). He visited once a year, and after his departure, my nanny never failed to tell me: "my son is a jerk." And, indeed he was.
When I was around ten, my nanny suffered from two strokes. She seemed fine after the first one albeit slower in speech. The second left her forgetful. I didn't fully understand why she was different now and I don't remember anyone explaining to me what had happened.
All I know is that she now accused me of things I had not done.
"You have not come to see me in a while," she complained in the phone receiver. To which I replied confused: "I was there yesterday."
Her strange, unexplained behavior left me a bit afraid of her.
What was going on?
Then one day she was gone. No explanations, no goodbyes. Her son had moved her. Address unknown.
She is Gone
A few years later, after school, my father met me in the kitchen. As he approached, he said he had some news and proceeded to tell me that my nanny had died. She was gone. I would never get to say goodbye now. As I folded in his arms crying, he also informed me she was already buried.
We only found out because her son had sold all of her belongings to an acquaintance of my parents. This sweet man was also kind enough to give me a tiny vase of hers. My sole memento. No pictures. No letters. No nothing.
My nanny's jealous son had made sure none of her requests were followed after her passing. He even made sure I could not attend her funeral. The buffoon. But then again, that's on him.
Years later, my father drove me the 45 miles or so to the cemetery where Tata was buried. He and I looked from grave to grave until we found hers. I took a picture and paid my respects.
The Rest of the Story
Years later, I learned the rest of the story.
My paternal grandmother had surgery, and she had been sent to a clinic to convalesce. While my parents visited her, they had stumbled upon my nanny and had entered her room. Upon their entrance, she did not recognize them, and they resolved not to tell me.
In hindsight, I do wish I would have understood her condition better. At the very least, I would have wanted to say goodbye.
Last night, my nanny is the one who occupied my dream. It was a dream which left me teary-eyed. I never saw her, but I went to her home, and later met a man (a stranger to me) who knew her in the dream.
Why did my sleeping brain decide to manufacture such a dream?
I woke a tad morose, thinking about a woman I loved and to whom I owed so much. She died lonely and alone maybe even thinking I had abandoned her; this should have never happened.
The Language of Dreams
I am sure some well-versed individual on the language of dreams could give me an explanation; if there is one to tell.
Deep inside of me, I must admit that I think maybe my nanny would have recognized me. Perhaps, this is all pie in the sky wishful thinking. I will never know, but I can dream.
One thing is for sure, she loved me. I loved her too. May she rest in peace.
I am grateful for these two dreams -— even if they remain an enigma — which brought such beautiful and special women to mind. While these nightly visions left me melancholy, they also spotlighted people who lived before me, shared my life for a time, and departed. The very thing we shall all do.
I pray someday my loved ones will dream of me, shed a tear, and smile, grateful they too knew me.
As to the language of dreams, I am no closer to being well versed in it.
As for you, have you ever dreamed of a loved one who had passed? Do you feel like your dreams try to tell you something of significance?