Another Grandma Dream: Saving the Pictures

Last night Grandma’s house in California was in imminent danger of burning down. In my dream that is. I was there helping to save everything important in the house. My newish neighbor (here in Massachusetts) was sitting with Grandma, comforting her. He is a minister of the more traditional variety and has a soothing and calm manner — thus he appeared in dream, I guess.

I moved from room to room in Grandma’s house looking for what mattered. Over and over again I chose photos: big and bulky framed photos, loose photos, photo albums. I quickly found these hard to carry, so I looked for bags to hold them: old purses, shopping bags, luggage, etc.

Every once in a while, I paused and looked at an item and thought, this is special. Hokey but special. Wall plaques with sentimental sayings — but SOOOO Grandma.

From the front of the house, as I moved towards the back and then the upstairs, I heard Grandma and my neighbor. Organ music began to drift through the house, a plaintive and old fashioned tune. It sounded like funeral music but was somehow peaceful. I thought, Grandma is comforting herself with music. She was playing the organ in the dream, though she rarely played her organ and didn’t really know much about music in real life — certainly not enough to play that well. But she did have an organ in what she called the “music room” of the house.

When I got into the dining room, I had a flashback to my early childhood, well before my folks divorced. I remembered visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house before they built the addition that turned their kitchen into a formal dining room and their patio into a kitchen/family room. I must have been about five? This really happened, but it was strange how I was remembering this lost detail while in a dream. I was thinking at that point about how much had happened in that house.

The thing that bugs me about the dream is how I didn’t even bother trying to help Grandma herself. She was alive in the dream, but I basically ignored her. Or more accurately, I took her presence for granted. It was the pictures I had to save. They were the thing that would be lost. Grandma was safe and comfortable, talking to my minister neighbor. We would have plenty of time to get out safely — the neighborhood was being evacuated soon but not yet. There was time to gather the things we wanted to save.

I wonder what all this means….

6 Responses

  1. Interesting dream, but sad/scary at the time I’m sure.

  2. Funny but it wasn’t really sad or scary. Isn’t that strange? I just knew what I had to do….

  3. I can sense your very intimate tie with your Grandma…sometimes it’s the objects that need to be salvaged because they represent a life lived, and carry with them memories that can sustain a relationship even after that life has passed on. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Yes, I’m sure that in my subconscious I knew that she was already gone. And always there, too. I do think the pictures represent something important: Grandma was a powerful storyteller. She gave me the gift of family ties, and the pictures I was gathering were of the ancestors, also dead. I’m sure this also has something to do with the book I am supposed to be writing. Like…hurry up and get writing or this will be lost!

  5. There really are a number of ways to interpret the dream, all of which may be as valid as the next. But I guess the real gift is simply seeing Grandma “alive” once more. I’d give anything to “see” my lost loved ones in just about any context. Because at least for some moments I’d get to “experience” being with them again.

    Going back to your dream, I agree with you that Grandma may be asking for you to “save” the memories and find that special place for them like perhaps the book you’re writing.

    Wishing you all the best with the book, I know Grandma happily approves.

  6. Thanks! Yes, I’m sure Grandma approves and understands my delays. She knew I had a life to live outside of our work together on the book. I shouldn’t chastise myself about my delays in writing. She certainly wouldn’t!

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