learning some, so far so good, from the first guiding dream *6th in series


Now, I would like to tell you more of how I learned from the things this first guiding dream showed me.

I did see that my own feelings were in knots about  blaming or excusing my husband, and to feel guilty or to understand even myself.

In the dream, I had looked like my Aunt.  I did begin to understand about my Aunt who had been pregnant, and married at age 16. She was not alone in the process of getting pregnant. But, she was forever blamed for it by my grandmother, and apparently by my mother as well. That marriage had been right after World War One, in 1919. The attitudes were different then. I was realizing about this between 1948 and 1952, and attitudes were still a lot different than now. My grandmother was 65 or so in 1919 too; my Uncle had been her baby, born when she was in her early 40ies.  My Uncle was looked upon as being trapped into the marriage by a scheming woman. He was held to be blameless. But his wife became an alcoholic, which may have and may not have  led to indiscretions. If so, there was nothing I ever knew about. She died of Cirrhosis of the liver at an early age.  But in the dream, I had looked like her, as if it was a dream of what I might become. I had only known of the way she had been seen to be, not how she may have really been.  I never really knew her as a person.  I can see the idea of being driven to drink, in how she was treated.

As I grew up, my grandmother had held daily prayers where she prayed aloud listing every indiscretion for any of us, as if she was telling God, and judging people, condemning them. She seemed to ask more for punishment, for people to be taught a lesson, and it seemed to me, God must have been like this.   I was brought up often hearing her prayers.  It seemed to me that she demanded perfection of my mother, and made some allowances for children, but according to her,  all men were alike.  She had to trust them, and never be critical of them, even with personal complaints, but when they simply refused to even listen to her prayers, she prayed for them, not about their misdeeds.

But, it was my grandmother I had to understand. She had died when I was 18. By then she was blind, nearly deaf, and crippled from a broken hip, and either in bed or in a wheel chair. Yet she and I had begun to get along better than ever.  I asked her about her life, and she had been quite candid. It was even funny at times, because she would tell me some of her early escapades, and caution me not to tell my mother.

Her life held a sad story I did not understand when she told me.  Born in 1855, she was qualified as a teacher when she finished the 8th grade, no high schools existed in the small towns in Michigan.   The school board was approached to supply a teacher to a widower who ran the lighthouse, for his several children.  She was sent, more than she was asked, to take the position.  But, it turned out that the man, as my grandmother worded it, “began to treat her as if she was his wife, and wanted to marry her”.  As soon as transportation to the mainland was available, she left the position, and of course, refused the marriage.   But she was only 16, and from then on, she was the subject of female gossip, and the target of male advances, when no one would have married her.   By the time she was 27, she was an old maid school teacher when my grandfather visited his brother, who was employed to run her family farm.  In a couple of months, he proposed and she accepted.  She had a younger brother, and a sister only 16, with both parents dead, and with my grandmother supporting the family.  The three of them owned the farm, but it had to be in her brother’s name.   But, she packed them all up, along with the possessions, and with my grandfather went by covered wagon to NY State, and his family.   Trains were available then, but not if she wanted to take the furniture. 

Within two years, she had a son, and they traded the Michigan farm for another there, and had a home of their own.  She paid one third of the value of the farm to her brother, who moved west into new territory.  But the farm they purchased had to be in my grandfathers name.  Aunt ABBY, the younger sister received her one third of the value of the Mich farm, for her marriage.  About ten years later my mother was born,  and then my Uncle was born 2 years later.  Earlier genealogy has been of much interest to me, and has been written, but is not pertinent in this story.

I had several dreams about her off and on during that four-year time before the next guiding dream.   I dreamed she was dead, and dismembered, with her body parts scattered in deep very cold water. In different dreams I kept diving and bringing up parts of her body and laying them on a table like a hospital gurney. I must have had up to 20 different dreams, over many months. None were memorable as such, but in all, I know how it began, and finally how I seemed to find some last part. I was putting her together again, like a jig saw puzzle.  I know each dream and body part came with memories of my own experiences with her, feeding the chickens, or when I could help when she wove rugs, running errands for her, or helping her to hang clothes on the line.  These were all good memories, when I had remembered being somewhat afraid of her criticism.  When I put the last body part in place, she seemed to come alive again, as a young woman. This ended those dreams. At a later time, I had other dreams about her.

I began to see that double standard for women in the point of view my grandmother had held.   Women were of one kind or the other, to be respected or not to be respected.  I felt this was something like this same double standard, in the way “the guys” who were my husband’s friends saw women in general, and how they felt about their mothers or sisters, and the woman they would hope to marry some day, putting them on a pedestal.  But, the girls they did not respect were the ones who were more exciting.  I felt that my husband, only when he was with “the guys“, was not particularly respecting of women.  He respected me, put me on a pedestal, but to fit some image.  It was like ideals about what a wife, or a woman, or a girl that the other guys will admire, that I was to live up to.  It was not a question about who I am if I am really being myself.  I still had to sort this out.

I did begin to realize some things.  In my marriage, my husband needed to be himself, as a person in his own right, not just my husband, and not just a father to our children. I needed to be myself, as a person in my own right, not just the daughter to my parents, not just a mother, and not just a wife. But, in our marriage, we also needed to be parents, together. We needed to build our home together. We needed to build a life together. But, that must not and cannot be done if either or both people were to do this at the expense of failing to also realize how to be themselves.  I did not realize this much yet, but I began to see it.

I realized we just can do our best, as we go along. I had to see that this was so for myself, for my husband, my relatives, and my parents. Parents relating to their children like to come across as if they are always right, they always know best. But, if I had wanted to have the chance to be myself, then my children certainly needed support for them to be themselves too. And, friends, and husbands and wives, even parents as it turned out, needed support to be themselves. It is not the easiest thing to do. The easiest is to be swept along in whatever way the wind blows, react to things, or go along with some of the things we pick out of what is going on.  I was being swept along more than not, even then.

I did have to understand and  to do so reflected back on myself. I could be human too, I did not have to be living up to some ideal, some image.  No one can do this, really.

In the time I was having the dreams about my grandmother, diving for body parts, putting her together like a jig saw puzzle, all different kinds of actual memories of my actual relating to her. I also remembered two very early unexplainable events.

First, I remembered when I was in Church, sitting with Grandma in their almost to the front pew. My siblings were there, my younger brother, and the boy & girl twins who were maybe not walking yet.  But they often got down and crawled away under the pews, and I had to go bring them back. I would have been about 5, and later maybe as old as 6. My Mother and Dad were both in the choir.

I remembered asking Grandma why the old ladies who always sat in the back middle pew were no longer there. They had watched me scramble to go get the twins back, and would smile and nod at me, and I looked for them and smiled back. I had seen them often, for a long time. But, they just were not there any more. Grandma asked me a lot of questions, what did they look like, how were they dressed, did they shake hands with people, had I seen them come in or leave? I had told her, as best I could. I never saw them come in, and never saw them leave, and no, they were not there when people stood up to leave, and no one ever seemed to shake hands with them. They were dressed in more old time ways, like old women, not as  my mother dressed.

Finally grandma told me they were only visiting. They used to come to church there a long time ago, and she knew who they were. But, they were gone now, and I might be getting too old to see them any more. She did not seem to imply to me that they were dead, only that they did not come to church now. But, I realized later, she had meant they were dead. It did not scare me. She probably told mother about it, but I did not think much about it, and I did not tell mother myself. They looked absolutely the same as all the other people, but I never had gone near them or talked to them, or touched them. It was only that I had seen them during church, and they had always noticed me.

The other event was when I was much younger. I had played out in a field by my grandparent’s home, and found a place where I could lie down in a deeper spot and look up at the grass and dandelions around me.  I saw a girl, a few years older than I was, dressed in a beautiful white dress, who came to play with me. She did seem totally real to me. We picked dandelions, which had very long stems from blooming in the deep grass. She showed me how to make a braid of the dandelions, and to keep adding stems and keep on braiding, and she made one for herself.  She had held my hands in hers to help me tie off the long braid, to make a crown to fit my head.   I came back to their house proudly showing off my dandelion crown.

They asked me who showed me how or helped me to make that. I told them about the girl. I was able to describe her and her lovely white dress. I might have known her name; I do not remember one way or the other. But, my grandmother had a fit. She told me this was the girl’s grave, she had died of some fever long ago, and I must never ever go back there.  I believe that as a child, I never did go back there.  But, it had only been a wonderful experience for me. I had no idea why my grandmother would be so upset about it. I thought she meant I might catch that fever or something. It seems to me, my parents heard her getting so upset with me about it, and probably talked with her about it when I was not there to hear.  I did try to show my husband where this grave had been, in that time after I had remembered this, but the field had been plowed and planted over the years, and there was no sign of it by then.

And, Grandma must have had second thoughts, because of the way she handled it so much better a few years later when I asked about the old women in the back seats at church.

There was another unexplained event in the actual time, about 1952, before the next dream came. There was a fire down at the corner, at the home of the friend of my second son. My son wanted to go, and I said he could.  It did not look to be a very serious fire. But, he ran out right in front of the fire truck, and although it looked like he would be hit, he was ok on the other side of the street.

But, after the fire was out, the driver of the fire truck walked back up to talk to me. He said, he had no idea how he could have missed hitting my boy, but he seemed to suddenly be over on the other side safely. He, the driver, had never had such a scare in his life. My son did not seem to realize that he had a close call. I felt, from what I had seen, and what the driver had said, that this happening was beyond the ordinary. When I told my husband, he wondered about it too.

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