For some time now, I have been having very vivid dreams about my dad, my grandparents, great-grandparents and even extended family members. Some of them I never even knew. However, they are showing up in my dreams and I am trying to figure out why.
You may or may not know I have sleep apnea. When I was first tested, they found I woke up and went to sleep every thirty seconds. As a result of that, I never got into REM sleep. I would always wake up more tired than when I went to bed. I would often fall asleep sitting in my chair watching a movie or even talking with friends and/or family members. I was tired all the time and driving was beginning to be a problem as I had a hard time staying awake.
Once I started to wear a BiPAP machine, I got into good, deep, REM sleep and my dreams became very intense. After all, REM sleep is the only stage of sleep when we dream. I learned years ago our average dream is only about twenty seconds in length. I also learned we tend to dream about the last thoughts we had before we fall asleep.
One of the problems I get frustrated with is I rarely remember my dreams. Last night I did remember one and it was about my maternal grandfather, Joe Smith. By the way, if you were to come up with an alias, could you come up with a better one than Joe Smith?
Grandpa died at age eighty-six peacefully one Sunday morning watching Mass in the same spot in the living room my grandma died thirty-one years earlier on a Sunday morning while the rest of the family was at Mass. She stayed home that day because she had fallen and broken her leg and was not comfortable getting in the car and sitting in a church pew for an hour. They were also married for thirty-one years. There are so many serendipitous factors around their two deaths that always amaze me how they peacefully passed into the spirit world.
On the other side of my family, my grandfather, Ben Patrick was killed by lightning while working a field in 1942. He was only thirty-seven years old. He was the oldest of six children and his younger brother, my Great Uncle Stanley lived to be one hundred years old! Three weeks later, he passed away. He had reached his goal and it was time to join his siblings and his parents in the afterlife.
Here is one of my favorite photographs of my Grandfather Ben, Great Uncle Stanley and Great Aunt Hazel Patrick taken in 1911: Click on the image to make it larger:
I love Stanley's curly hair. Stanley and I would have great conversations over these last several years. He told me stories about his brother Ben and his sister-in-law Irene I did not know. He was a treasure trove of knowledge and information from his time here on earth. I loved listening to his stories. Now he is gone and that wealth of knowledge is gone with them. I believe that is sad.
I have so many pictures from both sides of my family I am having a hard time choosing which ones to post.
Now, I want to talk about my dad because I have been thinking a lot about him lately. I posted about him on June 6th and you can read that post by clicking here. June 6th would have been his eightieth birthday. Unfortunately, he died July 23, 2006. He was my best friend and I miss him every day.
Here is a picture of Dad and me in the summer of 1968 when he was coaching my junior high school baseball team in Sibley, Iowa:
Again, click on the image to make it larger:
I do not know what a psychologist would tell me about these dreams with my dead relatives. I am not sure I want to know!
I just know they all had an impact on my life in one way or another even though I may never have met them. My dad was a tremendous influence on me growing up. I see myself doing things and saying things he would have said. Like many of us, we find ourselves turning into our parents. I told you earlier my dad was my best friend.
Today, my mom is my best friend. We spend time on the phone almost every day. She also does some of my attendant care and stays with me every weekend. She has had two near-death experiences, one of them just a couple of years ago when she was in a coma for twelve days!
Am I learning things from these dreams in these relatives who are long gone? I do not know. Do I need to experience life with them through my dreams? I do not know.
Besides my mother and father, the most influential individual in my life was far and away my paternal grandmother, Irene Smith Patrick Grieme. I was the oldest grandchild and grandma was alone from 1942 until 1967 when she finally remarried Leslie Grieme. He also taught me many things when I stayed with them on weekends and for two weeks every summer for about five years until my accident.
I can extend this post much longer by sharing all kinds of stories about grandma, but I will not do that. Suffice it to say, I miss her tremendously as well.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I was not exactly sure where was going to go. I have rambled on long time here. But, I feel good about sharing these albeit brief stories. I look forward to meeting them all again one day in heaven. I am anxious to have great conversations again with Uncle Stanley, Dad, talk baseball with my Grandpa Young, and meet my Grandpa Patrick. Uncle Floyd is another one who was a great storyteller. I have not even mentioned him yet!
This gets back to the title of my post, "Why Are We Here?" I am not sure I answered that question, but I am sure while I am here I want to make a difference, just as all my deceased relatives made a difference in my life. I am trying to pay it forward with my speeches, my book and of course, this blog.
If any of you have any ideas about what I might take from these dreams, please comment at the end of this post. If you are a first-time reader of my blog, I want you to know this is twice as long as most of my posts! If you're still reading, thank you for sticking with me.
As always, I welcome your comments.