Granddaddy came to visit me the night before last, in a dream that felt like real life. I wish I could say with certainty that it was a visit from the man I so adored, rather than just wishful thinking and misfiring synapses, but I will always be a hopeful skeptic. It felt good, though, and gave me something to think on. So I’ll treat it as it felt – an important message, spoken by my long-dead grandfather, here on a soul-business trip.
We were driving to a wedding. I spent countless hours in the passenger seat of Granddaddy’s truck as a child, when he was alive, so we were back to places that suited us best. He was younger than I last remember him. He was in his late 60’s when he passed away. In the dream, he was around 50, his face still plump and a little shiny, his hair not quite thinned out, and still some black strands here and there. I was my present age. Neither of us remarked on the age differences, and I don’t think it even struck me as odd in the dream.
The wedding was being held at a church that was also a part-time warehouse and granary. Why I know this, I have no clue. We didn’t discuss it. But as the truck got closer to the building, I could clearly read the block letters on the side of the building, and the church was named “Gods Colors” (no apostrophe). I exclaimed, “Oh, I’ve been here before! I love this church!” He made a noncommittal grunt – a characteristic I’d forgotten – more on the positive side than negative, the kind of sound someone makes when they’re barely listening to you, but still want to appear polite.
Instead of stopping at the church, we rounded the corner and kept driving. On the right was a railroad depot, and ahead of us, the road changed from a country highway to a long, stately street, lined with straight, tall trees. The looked like birch trees, perhaps. As we drove towards this long line of tees, he looked over at me and said “You’ve always been so forgiving.” The subcontext was that I was forgiving to a fault, and he watched me being hurt as a result, and didn’t like it. But he wasn’t angry, or sad. He was studying me, and praising me, and it all came across in this simple sentence, and the way he looked at me, hands on the wheel, love in his eyes.
I don’t remember exactly how I responded. Something like, “I have to,” or “It’s my job.” We kept driving, and never reached the trees. Eventually I woke up.
Two things stand out to me from that dream: the church, and the message of forgiveness. Where was the apostrophe? Was the church to multiple gods? What are their colors? And was Granddaddy reminding me that I keep forgetting to forgive myself? I think so. I never see myself so clearly as when he shows up to look at me. In real life (and now sometimes in my dreams) he always looked at me with pure love. How to ever match that? But the truth is that it’s my job to do it. I’m the only one left to do that for myself. I deserve to see myself the way he saw me. I deserve to look upon myself with love and tenderness. I deserve to be forgiven.