06 October 2010

One Welcome Dream

I had a dream last night, and I just had to tell someone about it.

What better person than both readers of 'Point Pleasant'?

The dream was about my grandpa. I just cannot describe how much I miss him, gone now for 3 1/2 years. Just thinking about him fondly seems like a privilege today, and waking up to thoughts of him this morning just turned my week around completely.

First, a little bit about dreams.

I know now that sleep is a pretty important time for the brain: it's when everything gets filed, and memories are sorted out and arranged within the various parts of the brain. It's like "defragmenting" a computer, and it's some pretty cool stuff that goes on in the brain, all while we sleep.

I also know enough about dreams and literature to understand archetypes and themes. One typical dream archetype is the 'unrealized known.' Within the dream, this is something that has existed in prior dreams but seems to always surprise the rational part of the subconscious.

For example, the college dream where I had to take a final exam for a class I hadn't attended all semester. The class was unrealized to my conscious mind, which had been using sleep to file away all the studying I had been doing, however it was a known entity to my subconscious.

One archetype that has popped up in recent years has been what I will call "the two-acre plot." It's a grassy, fenced field somewhere in the Portland area. (It's about the size of the old vacant lot that stretched between Grandma & Grandpa's driveway and Ms. Louder's house.) A few years ago, I dreamed about a horse that we'd been given. This grassy, fenced field suddenly came up--it wasn't mine, it belonged to the Ditteses--and we left the old horse there, grazing near an old barn that took up one corner of the two-acre plot.

Last night, my dream took me to the two-acre plot. As my rational sense insisted that this couldn't be real--no Dittes had paid property taxes on this land--I entered the barn and began to dig around in the corner.

I do a lot of digging around with Dittes stuff. After I moved into Grandma & Grandpa's house, I found all kinds of priceless artifacts. In the study I found the letters Grandpa had sent to Grandma from his posts overseas during World War II. In a closet I found an old .22 pistol. In the attic I found an old painting by Ronnie McDowell, one of the first he painted of old Richland Station after he got back from Vietnam--and one that I donated to the history room at the library two years ago.

In the barn at the corner of the two-acre plot, I found a box with a bunch of rolled envelopes. inside. I opened the brown paper around one of the envelopes, and a small piece of paper fell into my hands.

It was a blank check.

It was a blank check with only two names on it.

Next to "pay to the order" I read the name, "J.D." The date and the payment were blank, but on the signature line I read, "A.G. Dittes."

Grandpa! I turned the check over. Written on the other side was a message, "You can use this when you need it."

I'm not sure about the rest of the dream. I left the box in the barn, and I think I made a visit to the dream version of Farmer's Bank, but before I could make a withdrawal, Jonah climbed into our bed and woke me up.

I awoke with a real sense of peace and contentment. I've wasted too much time worrying about money of late. Watching Jenny face the challenges of raising the public and private funds to keep her clinic running has probably gotten to me--I think that's what my brain was sorting out last night. My mind is too full of things I want but cannot afford right now.

That's why the blank check meant so much to me. It wasn't about how much money would repaint the house or pay for a summer road trip; it was about the limitless gifts that Grandpa had given me and the priceless impact he had on my life.

So much of what I have is the result of a blank check I got from Grandpa. I'll name a few:
  • the house I live in was purchased by him 60 years ago and sold to me (at a generous discount) in hopes that my children would grow up here in the same way his children and grandchildren had done.
  • a work ethic like no other
  • great taste in women and the strength to choose a bride who was intelligent, beautiful and spiritually discerning, just as he chose when he married Grandma
  • a mind that reaches to the stars and playfully considers their mysteries
  • lessons in humor as the glue that can connect me to those I work for--and with
Priceless. It's funny, I think back to the box in my dream now, and I wonder about the other envelopes. I didn't examine them in my dream, but I imagine now that they were addressed to my cousins, aunts, uncles, father, children and nephews. I'm sure the all contained blank checks.

I'm pretty sure that the two-acre plot will pop up a time or two in future dreams, but I doubt I'll get another look at that blank check or recognize Grandpa's signature.

If I had the chance to actually hold it in my hand again, though, I know what I would write in the payment box.

I'd write "Thanks."

I couldn't ask for--or even imagine--a dime more than the sum of all that he's given me. I remember. How could I want more?


Andrea said...

What a wonderful dream - and what a great post. But maybe you're underestimating yourself with the 'both' my readers guess? Well, I'm glad to be one of them.

Jenny said...

JD, that is am amazing dream. I love the idea the dream left you with: that you have unlimited potential, that you are rich, because of his belief in you. It reminds me of when I first met you in England, of all the long walks we took around the English countryside, during which you assured me that if you believed strongly enough, you could do absolutely anything. I think that belief has faded for you over the years - or perhaps I should say you have become more of a realist as time has passed. So, what of it? Does this dream bring back some of that optimism? What was the real message of the dream - the message of the blank check your Grandpa gave you? How does it affect you now? Does it change your belief about the future?