I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Visitation and adventure

Daddy, me as an infant, and Mama
The night before last, I had a very vivid dream about my parents. They were young and vibrant, laughing so hard they kept me laughing, too. Daddy was attempting to repair an old TV, and Mama was his assistant. Other people were around, as if it were an impromptu party, and I was so thrilled to see them having so much fun that I ran to get my camera. As I was hunting for it, I remember thinking how fortunate I was to be enjoying my parents so much when I was... seventy. And the confusion of that thought woke me up. Just for a moment as I lay in bed, I basked in the presence of my parents, who still seemed close enough for me to touch.

It really felt like a visitation, and I still to this moment feel like I had dropped by to spend some time with them. Even though I know in my head that it was an event manufactured from my brain, my heart just doesn't care. It was as real to me as this laptop. My son Chris sometimes appears to me in my dreams, too, always as a teenager, but he hasn't visited me lately, and I miss him.

Time softens my memories of my loved ones who have gone ahead; it's been twenty years since Mama died, and thirty-some years since Daddy left. I am older right now than either of them, since Daddy was 62 and Mama was 69 when they died. I remember talking with her on the phone about her seventieth birthday, which was coming up. (She died in March and would have been 70 in July.) She didn't want to think about it. She had suffered so many heart attacks but was stable and seemed to bounce back from each one. After the final one, she didn't. She knew she was dying and all her children came to see her. She didn't even look sick, but she was confined to bed and sat propped up with pillows, much like a queen holding court, while we listened to her pronouncements about which of her possessions would go to each.

She fell into a coma and we all thought it was the end. My sister Markee is an RN, and she and my sister Fia stayed with her as the rest of us returned to our lives. Then I got a call at work that she woke up from the coma and asked for a milk shake! I got on the phone and spoke with her, and she said that God had told her she could return for a short while to say goodbye to us, but when she closed her eyes, she would be gone for good. That night she fell back into a coma. Smart Guy and I got in our car and drove without haste to Texas, a journey of a little more than a day, thinking she would be gone before we arrived. But she wasn't. She had waited for me, and that night I gave my sisters a break from caring for her and slept in her room. Around midnight, I woke to give her a shot of morphine, and I noticed that her breathing had changed. I took her pulse and could barely find it. I called everyone into the room, and we were all with her as she took her last peaceful breath. We surrounded her head with the flowers that filled the room, and we stayed with her as the coroner was summoned to take her body away.

And now I remember those moments, which happened and still live in my memory, but that recent dream, those memories, feel just as real as the others. Nobody knows for sure what happens to us, if anything, after we die, but does it really matter? When I move to a new place, the location I left becomes a memory, subject to revision as time passes. The immediacy of my life makes the old place become distant. It's no different for any of us, and I hope that if there is an afterlife, I will be able to take some memories along with me. Who knows? Maybe Mama and Daddy really ARE together, laughing and carrying on with each other. It's a comforting thought.

On another note altogether, I am going to be traveling to southern California on Friday for a five-day stay. I'll be writing my next post on Sunday morning from a hotel room with a roommate I've never met, another skydiver. There is a gathering of SOS members (Skydivers Over Sixty) who will be trying to set a record for the largest formation ever attempted by SOS. I let myself get pulled into it, because they are looking for women who qualify to attempt to make a formation of just SOS women, and there aren't many of us! I'll be posting on my other blog about the daily trials and tribulations of me making four jumps a day for three days! And then I'll come home tired and (hopefully) a record holder.

My sister PJ is doing well in a rehab facility, in good spirits and learning how to cope with her weakened heart. Apparently she will be going on disability and probably getting around on a scooter, which means her home will need to be modified before she can return there. Today she will get to spend some time with her two dogs, as her husband is allowed to bring them to the courtyard where she is staying. I know she is looking forward to that.

So, all in all, life is good here in my part of the world, and I am also in good spirits and looking forward to the adventure of traveling south to join my skydiving sisterhood. If all goes as planned, nine of us will make a successful formation. Until next week, stay well and enjoy yourselves!


Anonymous said...

Wow, your story is incredible. I rarely have dreams that are memorable. I just wake up and the dreams are gone. Good luck with the formations. Will there be a dress rehearsal first? Lol.

wendyytb said...

I, too, have had "visitations" with my loved ones. They are always young..and well...in my dreams.

Smooth and safe flailing, DJan. I will look forward to hearing about it!

Teresa Evangeline/Bayou Summer said...

This is Beyond Beautiful. I am in tears ... may you have a fabulous time skydiving ...

Lorna said...

How lucky you are to have had these dreams. I wish I did.

Star said...

Well you take care on those jumps D-Jan. I'm glad to hear your sister is out of danger.
I have had a few dreams of the kind you mentioned although mostly they were warnings and something untoward followed. For that reason I don't welcome those kinds of dreams, good or otherwise.
Enjoy the sunny weather in S. California.

Rian said...

DJan, I have those 'dreams' also... and mom, dad, as well as my sister and brother always seem well and happy. Don't know where they come from or why... but do cherish them. Sometimes I realize during the experience that 'this can't be'... and lose the contact, but sometimes I can realize it and just continue to enjoy it... strange, but wonderful.

#1Nana said...

Once again you are the poster child for living life to the fullest. Go set those records, but even if you don't you're still my hero!

Jackie said...

I see both of your parents in you, Jan... Your Dad is so handsome, and I think that you have his eyes. Your Mama is beautiful...and I love the way that she is cuddling you. I'm glad you felt them with you. What a blessing for you to feel that. It gave me the good kind of goose bumps when I read your post. And then, I cried when I read about your Mama's waiting for you to come to her before she slipped away into death. I feel the closeness and the love. Your Chris is right there with you, too. I love your family...those that are still with you (so glad that PJ is doing better and I look forward to her return to her home)...and those that have preceded us in death.
As you travel to California, I pray for a safe trip, a wonderful time, and a safe trip back home to Washington. Take care, my friend.

Linda Myers said...

Nice visitation, DJan.

Red said...

I suppose you were taking pictures of your parents with a digital camera? It's funny how those dreams get a little twisted. I mix up the generations in my dreams. Most of the time I am the young guy.
Have a great week of jumping out of perfectly good airplanes!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

What an intense dream! My mother occasionally shows up in a dream, but I usually don't see her face. I love that your mom waited for you. Peter's mother waited a few days for him, and my mother died just after my sister visited with her two little boys. This makes me believe they are at peace when they take their leave.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Sometimes we need dreams like that to comfort some part of us..if only you had that camera with you all the time..:)
So you are going to make history..wow..you be careful..I am sending good thoughts your way for soft landings...and I am anxious to hear all about it!
Good to hear that PJ is making progress..does she have the same heart problems as your Mother did?
I think it is wonderful that you were their when your Mom died.
I was there when Far Guys Mom died..peacefully breathing one moment and not the next.
Well I am looking forward to having one huge party when I get to heaven..dogs and people..:)

Retired English Teacher said...

Dreams such as yours are such a blessing. I love that you had that time with your parents in a dream. I love that they were laughing. I love how you wanted to capture the moment. You did capture it by your descriptive writing of the dream.

I too have such dreams of Julie. Some are so real. Always, the dream stays with me for a while.

Glad to hear your sister is better.

Enjoy your trip. You are such an adventurer. I'll look forward to reading about it.

Arkansas Patti said...

Enjoyed the pictures of your parents. What a fine looking couple. So apropos that those pictures show them happy like in your dream.
My Daddy visits me on occasion but in my dream the visit seems quite normal. Those dreams are very comforting. So glad you sister is adjusting.
Have a fun, safe and successful dive.

Mel said...

I loved your dream visit with your parents, so lovely. As are your memories of your last hours with your mother. My father's sister rallied like your Mom did, only her request was for some pie.
I hope your adventure is a great one, your group is impressive. I'm always glad to stop by and read your words here each Sunday. Hope you have a great week.

Gigi said...

I love the pictures - what a beautiful couple...and an adorable baby to boot.

I don't dream much and never as vividly as the ones you describe. And the ones I do remember never involve people I've known and loved.

Be safe on your journey and have fun! I can't wait to read about you breaking records.

Linda Reeder said...

I'm glad you have happy dreams of your departed loved ones. I don't think I have dreams like that. The only ones I remember are the bad dreams.
I hope you will be able to show photos of your sky diving record attempt. Be safe and have fun.

troutbirder said...

Interesting ruminations... And good luck on your group jumps.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

That dream certainly strikes me as a visitation, DJan. Vivid and real. Have fun in California!

Friko said...

Dreams like yours are so comforting. I haven’t ‘seen’ my parents for a long time, although my waking thoughts often turn to them.

Best of luck with the attempt to set a record. Stay safe and enjoy yourself.

amanda said...

This post took me so many places in my own mind.. from the past (my grandfather dying suddenly of a stroke two weeks after we threw him a 60th birthday bash) ..to the present (my dad is currently having some health complications & undergoing test this week and next) and the future (I pictured myself, possibly making my first sky dive some day.

Have a wonderful time in California, wishing you blue skies & smooth sailing!

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Have a great trip to California and enjoy the skydiving. Sounds amazing! Thank you for all your kind comments on John's Island! John

Dee said...

Dear DJan, your posting about your parents and your mom's death and the afterlife and your plans for the SOS is so poignant and so filled with love for your family. There's so much love here that tears came to my eyes. How blessed you are in these memories. Peace.

Rita said...

What a glorious dream!! :)
Your mom really did have a peaceful exit. That is so cool that she woke up to say a last goodbye and KNEW it! What a blessing! Your post just make me feel so happy, Djan. Especially the laughing, happy dream with your folks. :):)

Jackie said...

Sending additional hugs for PJ. Please, tell her that prayers are with her as she continues to improve.
Also, I know that you will be traveling home today, and I wanted to let you know that prayers and hugs are for you, too.
I am so happy that you had a good time with your newly-acquainted skydiving friends!
Hugs to you and your loved ones...