Patagonian Mummies

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I’ve noticed my hands are aging. If I pull at the skin on the back of my hands, if I pinch it together with my thumb and finger and then let go, it stays there. A thin line, like an old woman’s wrinkle.

That’s okay I say. I want to age gracefully. When I was young I decided I wanted to die at sixty before I got too old and lost my sight and hearing, before arthritis set in and I began to hobble. Now that seems outrageously young. Too young.

Last night I dreamed my mother was dead and we, my brothers and sisters, cousins aunts and uncles lined the pews in the church of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The church on top of Whitehorse Road stands squat like an animal about to pounce. It is built from cream coloured bricks that give it a sense of solid form and old-fashioned modernity.

The church is surrounded by row upon row of perfect flowerbeds: petunias, pink and white and standard roses in lines alongside the green lawns that form hillocks beside the church.

We are inside the church looking up to the altar and my mother’s body lies in the middle of the centre aisle but not in a coffin. She rests on a stone slab and is covered by a swathe of cloth, orange silk or taffeta. She is covered completely, her body a small mound under the creased material.

A breeze runs through the church and lifts the cloth fractionally so I can see my mother’s toes. They are parched and dried out like the fingers of a mummy. I have seen them in picture books, Patagonian mummies. The figures of the dead in Patagonia are draped in cloth that is falling apart. Some have embroidered collars around their necks and one man’s throat is adorned in what looks like a dog’s collar.

In my dream I shiver to see my mother so emaciated, so far gone. She looks as though she has been roasted in an oven and all her juices have dried out.

Then I am in the pulpit, a thrust of anxiety running through my stomach, wanting to speak but dry-mouthed and fearful they will all yell me down. But they do not, they listen and in my mind I am rehearsing the thing I have spent years rehearsing, my mother’s eulogy.

I want to tell them: I love her, I loved her, but I also hate her. The little woman with the hooked nose and spindly fingers, the rounded belly in its tight corset.

We are outside and I am numb with loss when my mother appears, now in her fifties, my mother as I am today, full fleshed and sprightly, though fatter than me. She looks over at me with piercing blue eyes. No one else sees her, only me.

‘What are you doing here?’ I say. ‘You’re dead.’ She does not answer.

My father appears, also in his fifties. He is hunched over next to my mother’s body. His face is wet from crying. He rubs his big hands up and down his cheeks. His chest heaves. He has lost his wife. Only I know she is still here.

I wake from my dream and wonder, is this an omen? Will my mother die soon?

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71 Comments on Patagonian Mummies

  1. jane.healy
    April 7, 2011 at 9:40 am (6 years ago)

    We believe if you tell a dream it breaks the spell of it becoming a reality.

    Reply
  2. Jim Murdoch
    April 7, 2011 at 9:55 am (6 years ago)

    I don’t believe in omens. Your mother is old. She will die soon enough, perhaps too soon for you but no one outstays their welcome on the planet not even giant sequoias. The problem with omens is that a belief in them necessitates a belief in some kind of higher power who has a vested interest in keeping us appraised of what is about to come without affording us an opportunity to change it. Why bother? To give you one last chance to say the things you ought to say before she goes? If you’ve not said them by now do they need to be said? Why are you hanging onto the last possible moment?

    Art was writing about dreams recently. I used to remember my dreams only rarely so rarely in fact that I wasn’t sure I did dream. My dad insisted that he didn’t although in later life when being right wasn’t quite as important to him he did relent and admit that he probably did but just never remembered what he’d dreamt. I am aware that I dream regularly now and often can recall the tail end of a dream as I awake. This morning I was in a library trying to take out a book but the librarians noted that they had a book by me in stock, one with a blue cover, a non-fiction book which included an essay by me (no such book exists) and as such I needed to get a special card which was a little larger and shaped differently to the normal library cards I had as a kid but are no longer used. And that was it. I attach no great significance to it.

    Most of my dreams I find are about work with a cast culled from workmates from the various jobs I’ve had over the years, family (rarely Carrie though and if my daughter is there it’s usually a much younger incarnation) and members of the congregation I was a part of growing up but I’m invariably involved in some kind of productive, although rarely creative, activity; office work features high on the list. I never dream about falling or walking around naked or any of the ‘classic’ dreams; cigars do not feature highly in my dreams put it that way.

    I have mixed feelings about trying to interpret dreams. I’m always wary of trying to impose meanings on them the same way we do with horoscopes. I prefer to think of them as my mind’s flotsam and jetsam.

    Reply
  3. The Elephant's Child
    April 7, 2011 at 10:35 am (6 years ago)

    Aaargh. Where did you get such explicit directions about where to find my buttons. You do seem to push them with uncanny accuracy. My relationship with my mama was/is ambivalent at best. Thankyou I think.

    Reply
  4. Rob-bear
    April 7, 2011 at 10:38 am (6 years ago)

    Interesting dream. I normally think of dreams as my mind trying to work out something, and all the players in the dream are facets of me. Whatever.

    Thanks for sharing that fascinating event.

    Reply
  5. steven
    April 7, 2011 at 11:01 am (6 years ago)

    my own experiencing of dreams is that they don't function very well as fortune-telling machines. i find their value in articulating the dance between the surface mapping of our experiencing and the deeper mapping where relational pieces in particular find a sort of objective substance. i'd say that the dream is pointing to the possibility that it's time to let go of a perceptual element that colours your relationship with women. steven

    Reply
  6. Isabel Doyle
    April 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm (6 years ago)

    Hmmm very interesting Elisabeth. You started with hands that may tell time and moved into reporting a dream. Am I to believe any of it? You sound to me like you are describing a surrealist painting or film (did the Dadas have the money for film?) which of course, so many dreams seem to be like.

    If there is anything in dream interpretation, it is that things are not what they seem. If the dream is telling you anything – are you remembering a future event? – it is probably related to filing your tax return or getting the gutters cleaned …

    May I recommend that you look at Susan's photos – I think they look like dreams.

    But dreams – especially those about death – are disturbing and tend to hang around in the back alleys of the mind, don't they?

    Reply
  7. Ms. Moon
    April 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm (6 years ago)

    Not an omen, I would think. More like a lot of ambivalence about your mother on your part.
    This is how I would interpret it. Of course, I could be wrong.

    Reply
  8. persiflage
    April 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm (6 years ago)

    I was married in that church – not that it did me much good, my own mother's funeral was held there, and various other family occasions were held there. I quite liked the church, actually. It is natural, as well as interesting, when the location of our dreams is so familiar to us.
    It is difficult for many of us now to understand how trapped people could be, for so many years, by awful circumstances, and the appalling lack of alternatives or any sort of solutions. Women were so confined, actually and conceptually. In many cases, women were forced to embrace their servitude and lack of choices,

    Reply
  9. Friko
    April 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm (6 years ago)

    Nobody knows the answer to your question, least of al your mother. I'd love to believe in omens and/or dreams, but I don't.

    No doubt you have looked at your mother, speculating about what it'll be like when she's gone.

    Mine died several years ago. I am still breaking my (metaphorical) teeth on the puzzle she was to me; long discussions with my counsellor revolve entirely around my relationship with her.

    I wish there had been a way through to her. If there are unresolved issues between you and your mother – perhaps your dream is an indication of that? –
    I would suggest you try and sort them out now, while she is alive.

    Mothers can be an awful burden when they're gone.

    Reply
  10. Ellen
    April 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm (6 years ago)

    Such vivid details…the aging of ourselves. Do you find that with the aging of your mom that the aging of yourself seems that much clearer and closer? I do. I see parts of my body aging just like my moms and it brings me no comfort. Perhaps if it was my mother by marriage I would feel better because she is so very loving and my mom was not. To see the aging of one who loves deeply and fully you can think that the process of change is good. I sometimes feel betrayed by aging and sometimes understand that one has to go forward. I look at my daughters and miss the young bodies they have. How fast it slipped by on the timeline of life.

    I don't know what or if I will say any words of a eulogy for my mom when that time comes. I don't know if I could say a thing. I would be mute. My heart felt words were said at my stepfathers service. They poured from my fingers to paper and when I spoke they flowed clear and deep.

    Reply
  11. tinajo
    April 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm (6 years ago)

    Dreams like that are so scary – I once dreamed that one of my sons drowned and I could do nothing to help him. It took forever after I woke up to shake that feeling off and I was weary for days – ugh!

    I think that – when we dream like this – it´s in a way admittance of that we can´t control everything when it comes to people we love. We love our parents, children and friends and would do anything for them – but we can´t control how life happens. Awake I don´t like to think about that – maybe it comes out in my dreams now and then?

    Thanks for visiting me, I´m looking forward of getting to know you! 🙂

    Reply
  12. The Weaver of Grass
    April 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm (6 years ago)

    Those sort of dreams are horrible, Elizabeth – best to put it to the back of your mind if you can.

    Reply
  13. jabblog
    April 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm (6 years ago)

    I must disagree with Jim – being in your fifties is NOT old though I concede that some people are old in their youth!
    As for dreams, they are interesting, sometimes frightening or bizarre but I don't believe they carry omens. Strangely, I often dream that my mother is still alive and those dreams are pleasurable but I don't feel cheated when I wake and realise she is dead.

    Reply
  14. Sharon Longworth
    April 7, 2011 at 9:04 pm (6 years ago)

    I think we all imagine the deaths of those we love or loathe and how we'd behave in those circumstances, it's almost as though we're compelled to stick pins in ourselves to see how much it hurts.
    So much to think about here – thank you!

    Reply
  15. Kirk Jusko
    April 7, 2011 at 11:50 pm (6 years ago)

    Most of my dreams are too incomprehensible to make good omens.

    A Salvador Dali painting awaits…

    Reply
  16. Phoenix
    April 8, 2011 at 12:07 am (6 years ago)

    I do not think dreams are omens, because they are what is already stirred up inside us, and we don't make things happen just by dwelling on them (or we'd all either have won the lottery or driven off a bridge by now.)

    Perhaps your dream was an alarm clock, saying that the time is getting closer, closer… and maybe there's something you need from your mother (or that your mother needs from you?) before one of you goes.

    As for my own relationship with my mother: I spend most of it thinking, "I'm not ready to lose her, I'm not ready to lose her…"

    Reply
  17. rosaria
    April 8, 2011 at 12:36 am (6 years ago)

    I believe in dreams, not the literal line or visuals, but the emotions and conflicts they represent in our lives. I get a great deal of mileage from dreams, pointing me to consider things I would not ever consider in my conscious state.

    Reply
  18. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 2:02 am (6 years ago)

    That's a interesting perspective on dreams, Jane. I don't think they reflect any other reality than a psychological/emotional one. I tend to think that dreams offer us a way of reflecting on our state of mind, which is of course a movable feast. Thanks, Jane.

    Reply
  19. Robert the Skeptic
    April 8, 2011 at 4:45 am (6 years ago)

    Yes, you are most correct – age 60 is too young to die!

    I, of course, do not subscribe to omens, particularly when people ascribe prognostications to the events. But I do not discount the marvel and complexity of the human mind, and in particular, during sleep when it is allowed to explore unfettered by consciousness. Dreams clearly give us a peek behind the curtain of our subconscious. As you say, reflecting on our own state of mind.

    Reply
  20. Anthony Duce
    April 8, 2011 at 4:46 am (6 years ago)

    I Used to have similar dreams and thoughts. They stopped a long time ago when my parents turned the age I am now. Now with one ninety and the other eighty six, the dreams of them are mostly of the past.

    Reply
  21. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 5:19 am (6 years ago)

    The interesting thing about 'flotsam and jetsam', Jim, is that if you were to collect it, pries it apart and examine it, you might well find some meaning there. Bits of discarded stuff that tell you stories, if you have imagination enough to follow.

    To me this is what dreams are like. They tell you about your internal workings. But I don't think any one else can interpret these internal workings for you. Your own response is idiosyncratic. That's why I object to dream interpretation, when one person tells another person what the latter's dream means.

    A therapist might help you make sense of your dreams but they cannot tell you what they actually mean. As far as I'm concerned, they can only help you find your own meaning – if that makes sense.

    I'm a constant dreamer, Jim. I remember at least one or two dreams a week. I often know I've dreamed in the morning, traces remain but they're gone before I have a chance to write them down or reflect on them. People can learn to become more receptive to their dreams.

    I enjoy my dreams these days as much for their literary quality as for their meaning. I enjoy the way whole strange worlds open up for me in my dreams and they are there effortlessly achieved as long as I can write them up almost as soon as I've woken up. Otherwise like so many good ideas they disappear.

    Thanks, Jim.

    Reply
  22. Windsmoke.
    April 8, 2011 at 5:41 am (6 years ago)

    I reckon you've got a death wish because your bizarre dream frightened you. Omens don't exist only what will be will be :-).

    Reply
  23. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:18 am (6 years ago)

    I doubt that there are very many people whose relationship with their mothers isn't ambivalent, Elephant's Child. It's the nature of the beast.

    We must have quite a bit in common for me to be able to press those buttons of yours. I don't do it intentionally.

    Thankyou.

    Reply
  24. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:21 am (6 years ago)

    That's my take on dreams, too Rob- Bear. Our dreams are our unconscious efforts to make sense of ourselves and all their various aspects represent different facets of ourselves, in most cases heavily disguised.

    Thanks, Rob-Bear.

    Reply
  25. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:24 am (6 years ago)

    I'd agree, Steven, dreams are not necessarily useful as predictors of future events. I reckon they say more about what's going on unconsciously in the present time. You may be right about my need for a perceptual shift vis a vis my relationship with women, but I wouldn't swear by it. I still think it's more closely related to my specific relationship with my mother.

    What's that saying? My mother/myself.

    Thanks, Steven.

    Reply
  26. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:28 am (6 years ago)

    Dreams are mystifying, Isabel, I can only agree.

    I'm not into interpretation here, though. My thoughts about whether this dream was an omen was more off the cuff than not.

    I suppose it depends on how we define omen. Omen as in ominous.

    In that sense I agree with you, Isabel, dreams of death hang around in the back streets of our consciousness.

    Thanks, Isabel.

    Reply
  27. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:30 am (6 years ago)

    Ambivalence, Ms Moon, indeed. And as I've said before I suspect such maternal ambivalence in both directions is pretty universal.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  28. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:34 am (6 years ago)

    Amazing Persiflage. That is quite some coincidence, that you were married in the church OLGC and buried your mother from there.

    A long time ago I made my first holy communion and first confession there, but otherwise it stays in my memory, a ghostly building, and one I drive past many times a year, but have not been inside since childhood/adolescence.

    Your words about marital servitude are quite telling and painful.

    Thanks, Persiflage.

    Reply
  29. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:36 am (6 years ago)

    It's interesting that you can experience your mother more as a burden after she's gone than before and a tad scary. I have enough trouble now while she's alive. I must set to work on repairing rifts before it's too late.

    Thanks Friko.

    Reply
  30. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:40 am (6 years ago)

    Maybe the fact of being a step removed from your step parents enables you to feel less ambivalent about them, Ellen.

    I agree with you about the stuff of aging. The older I get the more like my mother I look.

    When I was young I looked nothing like her, but these days my mother's facial expressions and mannerisms stop me in my tracks when I see them reflected back in a mirror or when others remark on the similarities.

    As I said to Steven earlier, 'my mother/myself'.

    Reply
  31. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:48 am (6 years ago)

    Tinajo, those dreams in which our children are at risk seem to me to be the worst dreams imaginable. I've had them too. I wake up so relieved.

    Certainly dreams highlight our lack of control, they seem so chaotic, so anarchic, so as you say out of our control and yet when we're in them they can seem so real.

    Thanks, Tinajo.

    Reply
  32. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:51 am (6 years ago)

    If I don't write up my dreams I lose the memory of them pretty quickly, Weaver. It's only when I write them down that they stay longer.

    Once they're written down, their impact changes as well. They become to me more like a story of someone else and not me. Then they don't trouble me so much. It's only when they're fresh in my awareness that they can haunt me.

    Thanks, Pat.

    Reply
  33. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:54 am (6 years ago)

    Age is all relative, Janice. As you say there re some people who are old in their twenties and others who are still young in the hearts and head I their eighties.

    I dream about my mother at all ages, but mostly she appears as I remember her growing up in her forties and fifties. Funny that.

    I must say I like to dream about people who are dead. It helps to remind me that at least my memory is intact.

    Thanks, Janice

    Reply
  34. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 7:58 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks, Sharon, dreaming can be a bit like sticking pins into ourselves to see whether it hurts. It usually does, though sometimes I have wonderful dreams in which I can fly or speak in foreign languages, and dreams in which animals can talk. Anything's possible then, for good or for ill.

    Thanks again, Sharon

    Reply
  35. A Cuban In London
    April 8, 2011 at 8:48 am (6 years ago)

    Well, McCartney certainly said something about being 'sixty-four'. 🙂

    We live in a world so preoccupied with age, that, to an almost forty-year-old, it actually looks frightening.

    Many thanks for such an eloquent and vivid post.

    Greetings from London.

    Reply
  36. Jim Murdoch
    April 8, 2011 at 8:50 am (6 years ago)

    @jabblog – You have misunderstood me. Lis is in her sixties which will mean her mother is easily in her eighties. Now that is old by anyone’s standards and at that age people would be more surprised to see her live to be a hundred than pass away any day soon. My wife’s parents are both in their eighties and frankly every time the phone rings at an odd hour I wonder which one of them might have died. I wasn’t talking about the woman as she appeared in Lis’s dream. As for what Lis said in my defence I am one of those who people who was born old in fact in one of my novels I describe a character who just happens to also be called Jim this way: “Jim was forty and had been ever since he was thirty.” I’m almost 52 and I could pass for 62 easily.

    Reply
  37. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 8:58 am (6 years ago)

    Salvador Dali must have had some pretty amazing dreams, Kirk.

    I think if you try hard you can make some sense out of the smallest particle of dirt in a dream Kirk, only you have to put your mind to it and you have to want it.

    Omens are something else again and as I've said elsewhere, despite my final sentence in this post, I don't think that dreams have predictive value.

    Thanks, Kirk.

    Reply
  38. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 10:59 am (6 years ago)

    The idea of my dream as a sort of alarm clock, appeals to me, Phoenix. A wake up call, as you suggest regarding the passage of time.

    When i was little I often imagined losing my mother and I remember thinking then I could not bear to lose her. My mother is 92 years old and I'm a couple of years off sixty.

    Aging snuck up on me, when I least expected it. I'm still in good health and given that I still have a school age child, granted she's in her last year of school and look after my three year old grandson regularly, I still feel included in the life of the young.

    But it occurs to me more and more often with a vengeance, time is passing. My young days are over.

    Even my mother says, despite her years that she feels young inside. So do I. I write from an earlier self.

    Thanks, Tracy.

    Reply
  39. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 11:01 am (6 years ago)

    Dreams are barometers of our emotions and psychological states, as you suggest Rosaria, and like you I relish them for the new experiences I have when I'm in them and afterward when I can remember them.

    Thanks, Rosaria.

    Reply
  40. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 11:06 am (6 years ago)

    They say these days, Robert that fifty is forty, sixty is fifty and so on up and down the line. I think there's some truth to this.

    If I look back at images of people fifty years ago, those in their fifties seem much older than today's fifty years olds. Within the western world at least.

    Better diets, better health care etc. It must have an impact not only on longevity but also on the quality of our lives.

    As for dreams, they're part of it, I'm sure.

    Thanks, Robert.

    Reply
  41. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 11:08 am (6 years ago)

    I've noticed that the nature of my dreams have changed over the years, too. Anthony . I used to dream about animals in my dreams, now it's mostly people, the type Jim mentions, family and friends, colleagues and the like. I figure they all represent aspects of me.

    Thanks, Anthony.

    Reply
  42. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 11:10 am (6 years ago)

    Gosh Cuban, I've nearly twenty years on you, but in the blogosphere, it scarcely counts. I agree though with our society's preoccupation with aging. Perhaps it reflects our fear of death and vulnerability.

    Thanks, Cuban.

    Reply
  43. Elisabeth
    April 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm (6 years ago)

    Age is relative, Jim as you suggest.

    It's funny that some people seek to keep their age a secret. When I was a young social worker I hated the fact that older people refused to take me seriously, especially my mother -I'd never go to see someone as young as you, she'd say – because I looked so young.

    I was young, in my early to mid twenties, but I looked even younger.

    In those days I longed to look older. Then one day the age differential shifted into the reverse.

    Not that I try to look young. I have the horrors of 'mutton dressed as lamb'. At the same time I don't particularly want to look as though I'm in my dotage.

    Ah me, the tyranny of aging. Thanks for clearing up the confusion, Jim.

    Reply
  44. Elizabeth
    April 9, 2011 at 3:09 am (6 years ago)

    I used to dream so vividly and feel like a subconscious desert of late. Not sure what THAT means, other than I'm stressed and preoccupied?

    As for your dream — hmmmm– I would never presume to know what someone else's dream means. I think only you know that — or perhaps learn what it means in a synchronous-type fashion?

    Reply
  45. River
    April 9, 2011 at 3:16 am (6 years ago)

    i've found my dreams are usually bits and pieces of things I've seen, read or watched on TV within the past few days. Or they're totally irrelevant to anything at all.
    My hands are aging too, looking at the wrinkles there I'd say my hands are 65 at least, while I'm not yet 60.

    Reply
  46. Áine Tierney
    April 9, 2011 at 10:17 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Liz, Your blog is compulsive reading. Thank you for commenting on my blog – it's been great to find you!
    I've gone back through your blog and read lots of your blog posts and hope to read many more. All of your posts are so thoughtfully written and stimulating to read.
    I've heard that dreaming of a sad thing is a sign of happiness coming your way.

    Reply
  47. Elisabeth
    April 9, 2011 at 11:17 am (6 years ago)

    There are periods when I don't remember my dreams, Elizabeth. fortunately they don't last long. I enjoy the fact and experience of dreaming.

    There are times when I go to bed at night and hope for a dream in the belief that it might help me to resolve a problem, a dilemma, something troubling me. It often does.

    I can understand how awful it feels to be going through a dream free zone, but hopefully it will pass as most awful things tend to do.

    Thanks, Elizabeth.

    Reply
  48. Elisabeth
    April 9, 2011 at 11:21 am (6 years ago)

    I'm not sure that there's much difference between the hands of a sixty year old and a sixty five year old.

    My mother reckons if you've spent too much time in the sun as a child it'll show up in the wrinkles later. She may be right.

    As for your dreams, I imagine those events you recall in your dreams based on snippets from TV and your everyday life have some meaning, River, only you'll need to think about them in some depth to find the connections, and if your dream imagery seems too remote, I imagine it'll be hard to do so. You may not want to bother.

    Thanks, River.

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  49. Elisabeth
    April 9, 2011 at 11:25 am (6 years ago)

    It would be lovely to think that my dream of sadness is an indication of happiness coming my way, Aine, but I'm not too confident. (Sorry I can't work out how to put the grave- is that what you call it? – above the 'A' in your name)

    I'm glad you enjoy my blog, as I enjoy yours, and especially your most recent post on empathy.

    I enjoy thoughtful blogs that allow a measure of conversational depth and yours certainly achieves this.

    Thanks, Aine.

    Reply
  50. Kat_RN
    April 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm (6 years ago)

    With the unusual details, the cloth drape bare toes, and her younger appearance it seems to me more like your subconcious trying to work something out. That does not make you a bad daughter or a good one, it just means you need to think about it.
    My own mother has been gone for several years (and she still manages to make me feel guilty). We had a good and bad relationship, in other words, a typical one.
    Nice bit of writing.
    Kat

    Reply
  51. Antares Cryptos
    April 9, 2011 at 8:16 pm (6 years ago)

    I have never attempted the interpretation of dreams, personally, they have always "represented" an active brain while sleeping.

    If I happen to wake up while dreaming and thus recall the dream, it will inevitably turn out to be something that was "on my mind" while awake.

    That includes the loss of loved ones.

    P.S. Thank you for your comment, a bit of an oversight on my part. I would like to see how you would continue the "story".

    Reply
  52. rraine
    April 10, 2011 at 3:00 am (6 years ago)

    i use my dreams as indicators to look at things i've been either ignoring, or unaware of (maybe that's the same thing). i always remember my dreams, especially the images. i wish i could draw or paint them. i keep trying to figure out how i can take a photo of my dreams. the technicalities of that escape me.

    Reply
  53. Glenn Ingersoll
    April 10, 2011 at 4:43 am (6 years ago)

    hello, Elisabeth,

    Catching up on your blog since I went on vacation. I didn't get to the "cold turkey" post until after I'd read the one after it, where you put it in context. I had already read the disclaimer, I guess, so my saying that the piece felt composed, like a poem, say, rather than a diary entry or a new resolution, can't avoid accusation of hindsight, but I will say the crafting of the piece suggested to me work intended to be read as contemporary whenever it ended up being read.

    As to the aging stuff – I've been watching a tiny liver spot on the back of my hand grow ever so slightly larger for a few years now and if I look close I see possible neighbors to it. I remember my mother having lots of liver spots on the backs of her hands. She was a blonde, very fair, so I'd bet she got started on 'em early.

    Reply
  54. Dave King
    April 10, 2011 at 8:42 am (6 years ago)

    I cn relate to this post, largely, I believe, because Doreen and I went to se her mother in the chapel of rest. She was so emaciated and looking so little like the person we had known, that it was probably a mistake. I did once dream a friend's death who died soon afterwards – from a different cause. So I guess I relate by bringing together disparate experiences. All such are very disturbing, though. Or can be.

    Reply
  55. Elisabeth
    April 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm (6 years ago)

    A typical mother daughter relationship, Kat, is one riddled with ambivalence I'd say, at least from my observations.

    There are so many features in this dream to explore and I might yet do so, out of sight perhaps.

    Thanks, Kat.

    Reply
  56. Elisabeth
    April 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm (6 years ago)

    I'm not sure how I'd continue your story, Antares. I fear I am very good at beginning stories but not so good at finding endings. Besdies the ending is up to you.

    The same as for dream interpretation, as I've said elsewhere, I think it's pretty idiosyncratic.

    Thanks, Antares.

    Reply
  57. Elisabeth
    April 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm (6 years ago)

    It would be terrific to be able to paint or draw our dreams,rraine. We've already mentioned Salvador Dali. His works are like dreamscapes.

    I'm not a visual artist. I only use words, but you could try to paint or draw one of your dreams if you wanted.

    Why not give it a try one day?

    Thanks rraine.

    Reply
  58. Elisabeth
    April 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm (6 years ago)

    Welcome back after your holiday, Glenn.

    That liver spot of yours set me to checking out mine. They too spreading.

    It's such a grim word to use, a 'liver' spot, as if your insides are reaching up to the surface.

    Thanks, Glenn.

    Reply
  59. Elisabeth
    April 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm (6 years ago)

    I have not seen too many dead bodies myself, Dave, and the ones I've viewed were mostly dignitaries, archbishops and the like, and therefore well embalmed.

    I only ever saw my husband's father shortly after he had died and it gave me quite a shock. His face seemed so different from when he was alive.

    Death is always unsettling, I think, in dreams and reality.

    Thanks, Dave

    Reply
  60. Elisabeth
    April 10, 2011 at 1:50 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks for introducing me to your blog, Anni from Belgium. I've been over to your blog and left my calling card.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  61. Eryl
    April 10, 2011 at 11:48 pm (6 years ago)

    You have such a vivid imagination, Elizabeth. I guess you are beginning to feel your mother's and your own mortality, and your sleeping mind is working through it. My mother died five years ago today, coincidentally enough, and I was both prepared for it (it was obvious it was coming) and utterly surprised.

    I hope you are well, and your thesis is coming along as you would hope. Sorry I haven't been around for a while.

    Reply
  62. Elisabeth
    April 11, 2011 at 9:30 am (6 years ago)

    It's good to hear from you again, Eryl.

    I think you may be right about my reflections on mortalty, my own and my mother's.

    The irony of it all is that I spent some time this morning with my mother in hospital. She is being assessed for a tricky heart. For some unknown reason it's not doing it's job and she's breathless all the time.

    As far as I can see, you were too young to lose your mother five years ago, Eryl. For me it will be different.

    My mother is 92 and she had me at 33, but like you, although I might anticipate her death soon enough, I think it will also come as a surprise.

    Thanks, Eryl.

    Reply
  63. flaubert
    April 13, 2011 at 2:04 am (6 years ago)

    Elisabeth, I can relate to this, my dreams are quite vivid. However, I don't believe dreams can become reality, if that were the case, I would have tigers chasing me down the pavement. I think we pick up images, conversations, etc … from our life. I enjoyed this piece very much, excellent writing.
    Thank you for the nice comment on my blog. Nice to meet you too.

    Pamela

    Reply
  64. Elisabeth
    April 13, 2011 at 5:57 am (6 years ago)

    I agree, Pamela, dreams can't become replicas of reality. I'd have lions rather than tigers chasing me down the street.

    Thanks for your generous comments. It's great to see you here, Pamela.

    Reply
  65. Ruth
    April 13, 2011 at 10:44 am (6 years ago)

    I think of that image of Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" at the beginning when she pinches her skin, in disbelief that she is aging.

    60 is the new 30.

    90 is the new 60.

    Death and funerals are like births. The person we hoped for in life can now never be. Then they begin to grow in us in a new and different way. After all, everyone we know is really part of ourselves. Just as in dreams, every person and aspect of the dream is us.

    Reply
  66. Elisabeth
    April 13, 2011 at 11:11 am (6 years ago)

    I couldn't agree more, Ruth. My oldest daughter is due to give birth to her second child in July. My mother at 91 is struggling with a heart condition, the cause of which and effective treatment of no one can get to the bottom of. She's coming to the end of her life, while new ones are coming along.

    In the meantime we in the middle, the younger ones, for instance my children in their late teens and twenties and my husband and I, the next cabs off the rank, wait our turn and live our lives as best we can with the help of our dreams.

    Thanks, Ruth.

    Reply
  67. Mim
    April 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm (6 years ago)

    Thanks, dear Elizabeth–
    The dream reveals your feelings, I believe, but is not a definite prediction. As for aging gracefully, it's impossible.
    Warm regards from Mim

    Reply
  68. lucychili
    April 15, 2011 at 1:51 am (6 years ago)

    ooh
    i am lucky
    and time is fast

    Reply
  69. Elisabeth
    April 16, 2011 at 12:19 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Kim of Lucychili, it's great to see you here and to read that you enjoyed your quick visit here. Thanks.

    Reply

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