I met my grandfather last night. And not as the tired shadow he became towards the end of his life, as he neared the century, but as the rotund retired shopkeeper of my childhood. And I’m pretty sure it was in the kitchen of his old home on the coast, with the three-step stool I used to perch on. Yet I was my adult self, finally talking to the man on equal terms.
I always dream vividly, but this was exceptional. It was a beautiful dream.
I remember we had a real conversation, not all dreambabble. He knew he’d died some years back, and joked about it. “What about the brass band?” (Sorry, Gramps – no uniformed marchers allowed at a green burial site, but we did play some of their music for you.)
He knew where we were, too. He knew that the static occluding his kitchen window wasn’t the salt spray of the south coast, but the swirly stuff of the dreamscape. He was satisfied to be there, in his favourite place, and grateful for the time we had. Near the end, he gave that jocular wink of his and chortled, ‘You ARE having a dream, you know…’ as if I wasn’t aware. It was my dream, but he was the star. And then I woke up.
I knew it was a dream … but I wish you hadn’t told me yet, Gramps! Wish I could have stayed and talked longer. But all good things come to an end.
I wrote at his funeral that no life truly ends until all the lives it’s touched have ended. And because I met him again, over steaming cups of tea drunk from mugs purchased long after he died, his memory’s again as fresh as if I saw him yesterday.
Until next time, old man. And I know there will be a next time.