When I woke up, I was crying. It wasn’t like a sobbing-type cry; more like a gentle, appreciative sort of crying. In the dream, though, it was stronger, forceful. A feeling of utter shock and surprise, such a strong surge of sheer emotion as to be almost push one to cardiac arrest. The dream brought back the memory of an old television show, one I hadn’t thought of since it left the television airwaves well over 50 years ago.
It was called, This Is Your Life.
I remember that even back then, way back in my youth, the show had a profundity attached to it that always strongly affected me. It moved my emotions in a way that I could not have possibly articulated to anyone back then. And I can’t explain it now, either. But looking back on it, I think the creator of the show had tapped into something that all aging human beings feel. A sort of poignant sentimentality about the life they have lived: good, bad, or indifferent.
Like so many of my dreams — I’m not alone in this — this one was disjointed, jumping from one set of events to another without any kind of segue. Already I can’t recall all of the different scenarios I encountered, save for the one right before the grand finale. But as always, whatever they were, my emotions were tugged in each of them, whether it be anxiety, fear, relief, or whatever. I wonder if the dreams we produce are a figment of our own deep-seated emotions, played out on each of our own dreamscapes.
Anyway, in the last situation leading up to the climatic ending of my dream, I was descending some concrete stairs in what seemed like a park. I was holding onto a heavy, pipe-like iron railing that came up almost to my shoulders, with vertical supports that were, in my opinion — and I remember thinking this in the dream — too few and far in between to be safe because the steps were kind of steep and a there was a pretty long drop to the ground below. There was lots of activity, with children of all ages playing and shouting. The sort of din you would hear at a popular playground.
Somehow, I navigated myself safely down those steps and was, suddenly, in the kitchen of the house where my mother still resides. It was the kitchen as it existed before my parents had the house renovated, with a fairly narrow walkway leading from it into the dining room. I was seated at the kitchen table, facing an opposite wall where the stove was (and still is) located. About ten feet to the left of the stove (and to the right of the walkway leading into the dining room was the doorway to the basement. Back then, the basement was far from finished, a dark, dank underbelly to the house that held the coal-firing stove that heated the house and the accompanying coal bin, the hot-water heater, fuse box, the old-school ‘wringer’ washing machine, and provided space for storage. The floor was cold and dusty cement, cracked in places. We usually referred to it as the ‘cellar.’ It was a place that was frequented only when absolutely necessary. Monsters were down there. And mice.
I was talking to my sister-in-law, Linda, on the phone and she was talking to me about something . . . . I remember her tone more than the actual words she spoke, like she was setting me up for some kind of event or happening. Teeing me up, so to speak. And then people started emerging from the basement into the kitchen, a parade of them! People from my past, looking the way they did in that past! I think the first one was my sister-in-law’s husband, my brother Vern. (His name is Vernard, which sounds so odd to me because no one calls him that.) He was young, and whole again. You see, Vern has been suffering from a number of physical maladies for, oh, the past ten years maybe, and almost died from a blood infection about two or three years ago. (It’s hard for me to pin down the actual time various events occur anymore; attribute it to what you will.) He also has no cartilage in his knees, rendering his gait to a stiff and painful one in need of a cane’s assistance. Then my late brother Albert bounded up the stairs and popped through the doorway into the kitchen. He, too, was young and, something we family members hardly ever witnessed of him in his later years, full of joy and laughter. My mother, whose maiden name is Young, was just that as she appeared from the basement. Then Vern’s son, also named Vernard and called Little Vern — which he is referred to even now, at 40 years of age! — paraded through the doorway and then, like everyone else in the parade, made the 90-degree turn into the dining room and then to . . . where?
A childhood cohort of my younger brother and sisters, Derek, came through. And someone who, during the dream, I seemed to know but now, on reflection, I can’t recall. There were others but even now, their identities are fading from my memory. Conspicuous in their absence were my younger siblings: sisters Faith and Karen and brother Julian. And my father. Also not present was the person who I had been on the phone with just prior to all the hoopla: Linda! Such is the way of dreams.
I do recall hugging my mother and her saying something — I don’t know what — that was amusing and consistent with her personality. I had no contact with the others. Oddly, no one else really acknowledged me; they just filed by. But at the end of the dream, before I woke up, there was a group of people standing in the kitchen, facing me the way children stand together in their group kindergarten photo. Maybe everyone and, somehow, reconvened in the kitchen in a ‘This Is Your Life’ moment. I don’t know, can no longer remember the individual faces.
I just know that the elation and appreciation of seeing so many of the people in my life in their younger years was overwhelming. And joyful. And moving.
This dream was profound. I’ll not soon forget it.