In honor of my grandmother, Jean:
I dreamed of you last night, in that misty moment between asleep and awake. You materialized in my subconscious to gossip about everyday issues—a virtual video call from the great beyond.
You lovingly asked about my children and worried about your own, assuring me that you watched over all of us. In good times and in bad, you were here still. “I am closer than you think. Please tell the others: I am with you all always.” I promised I would…
Somehow, you knew all about my quest to unearth our family history. Our ancestors were also aware of these endeavors, you assured. I asked you if any stories were off-limits. Tales of adoration and inspiration are all well and good. Of course, everyone wants to be remembered fondly with their efforts cast in a glowing light and the rough edges sanded down by time.
But, I pointed out, not all of the stories I am sharing are positive. Some exploits and downfalls that had been well-hidden in the family history are suddenly being brought into the open. Was I offending her or my predecessors by sharing their heartaches and highlighting their foibles? Or, should I, instead, follow the advice of Emily Dickinson: “Tell the truth but tell it slant, success in circuit lies…”
In response, you deadpanned: “No offense to Emily, but she was full of $h*t!” You then quipped that no one is perfect—including you—and pretending that we are anything but human only gets us fitted for straight jackets. “Tell the truth, unvarnished,” you advised. “It keeps us alive, despite death.”
I appreciated your reassurance, that my genealogical research was giving life to those who were no longer with us. I turned to tell you so, but you had already disappeared. I felt a warm wind kiss my cheek, and I thought I heard you singing softly,
Stars shining bright above you. Night breezes seem to whisper, “I love you.” Birds singing in the sycamore trees.
Dream a little dream of me…
Oh yes, Grandma, I dreamed of you last night and am anxiously anticipating our next nocturnal heart-to-heart.