With Valentine’s Day approaching, the airwaves are full of love songs. Some are laughably bad, and some are classics. Today, I heard the “Titanic” song. You know the one that goes on and on about dreaming of a lost loved one who goes on and on….and on? I began to giggle, about the silliness of the song. Who would write it? Why was it a hit? Why did I, gulp, like it so much? And then I knew.
Years ago, my grandfather passed away. I did not get to say good bye. In my mind, I remain frozen as a teenager when I think of him. As a police captain, my grandfather was a powerful presence. When he picked me up at my elementary school in a cruiser, other kids would stare in awe. I thought they were jealous, but, now that I think about it, they were probably wondering what I had done.
We vacationed together. Each summer blockbuster introduced new monsters. In the cottage each night, I had never felt safer. I had my dad, of course, but just in case he was asleep at the wheel, there was always Grampa. But, if Dracula came calling and crashed through my bedroom window, who would I call first? I am confident protocol demanded calling for my father, and yet? Dad would get over it. Besides, who knew? Maybe I would run and find him also hiding behind Grampa?
Years later, he remains sorely missed. Logic indicates he is gone. Yet, after his death, various family members described a similar, vivid dream in which he appeared- in a supermarket checkout line. I also had the dream, and, though rare, I have had other “Grampa dreams”.
In one dream, I was reaching for vanilla ice cream. He appeared, and we began to chat as if no time had passed. I asked him what Heaven was like. He pushed away my vanilla ice cream, and replaced it with butter pecan. Then he opened a can of peaches and mixed it with the butter pecan ice cream. Gross, right? I was instructed to take a bite of vanilla. “This is what you know now.” he said, as I swallowed it down. Then he gave me a spoonful of his concoction and said, “This is what you will know.” I tried it and enjoyed the intense flavors, textures, and temperatures. That dream gave me tremendous comfort, and a few laughs.
The latest dream? Not so much. During a stressful time, I was coasting. I was dating the wrong man, partying too much and sleeping whenever possible to avoid it all. Guess who stopped by? I was informed that I was not trying hard enough, and that I needed to start over immediately. He pointed to his kitchen table where I studied years before. My law books were back. I wasn’t sure about a career in law anymore… They became children’s books. I could teach, but then… He was annoyed. “Oh, for Chrissakes! Just do something ELSE!”
In the dream, I went to put on the high heels I frequently wore on dates. Now he was really irritated. He insisted that I leave those off for a while, even if it meant going barefoot. Now I was mad. “What the..?” “Who does he think he is?” I rolled over, and for some reason, I became instantly awake and unable to fall back to sleep. It was the last nap I took for some time. I got up, shook off my attitude and resolved to get going. All it took was a supernatural kick in the ass.
For years, we looked for signs that Grampa was around. My grandmother was aghast when I drove her to the cemetery, and my non-verbal two year old pointed and laughed “Oh, Gampa!” People had broken car engines start when they asked him to help. I guess he can come by, if he wants to.
He was real, as was his love for us. Whether the dreams are real visits, I would rather not know. It’s the mystery that I like best. Apparently, he enjoys presenting me with this puzzle. Right before each dream ends, he gives me a quick wink.
Valentine’s Day is about the celebration of all kinds of love. I would give anything to get a granddaughter Valentine card once again. And, some tin foiled chocolate hearts wouldn’t be too bad either. But, above that, I would love a “visit”. So, if you are not too busy Gramps, swing by. I’ll be the barefoot teenager in your kitchen. I’ll bring the ice cream. You get the peaches.