“Hold fast to you dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly”
My dreams are back but they are older and without much hope. They render me weeping in my sleep. When they wake me, I am agitated. I am frightened. I am lonely.
Since retiring I have tried a range of what I thought were dead set certainties for the continuation of what has been a blessed and successful life. Being a full time working mother was a badge of honour! Being a full time working mother with a succession of executive positions in schools was a badge of honour with merit! Not enough merit to allow me to crash through, completely, the glass ceiling on Principalship, but enough to convince me of my intellectual worth positioned as I am in a family of PHDs and theological qualifications.
My dreams were of children and grandchildren. The possibilities of becoming a writer, a singer, a teller of stories. Becoming “Me” without the qualifications gained in the role of mother, wife, daughter, sister. Wholly, absolutely, uniquely me.
I wallowed in the longevity of life. The gene pool looked pretty good. Dad died, 87. Mum died 98. Grandma died 99. When I hit 50 and people started to hypothesise about the possibility of retirement while considering their own possibilities for promotion, I thought they were stupid! Perhaps I was stupid! But dream on I did.
Retire at 65. Not a minute before. Upon retirement, the Rhine River Cruise. Become a writer. Sing! Tell stories. Walk away from my career with a sense of fulfilment. Joy! Awe.Become a sage, a respected elder. Wallow in my grandchildren . Be with them. Love them. Sit back with joy and satisfaction as I watch my adult children become wonderful adult people
As I type this, it is a glorious day. The sun is making everything sparkle. The sound of the grass cutters in the park is the only thing intruding on the peace and calm. It is a school day but the school is empty and silent. I am wallowing in the reception of my Australia Post package, shipped from another state, which contains what I usually purchase at the local chemist 400 metres away. Its almost idyllic. But its not and the brevity of life is staring me straight in the face!
Mum died in 2012. Her life long faith had sustained her. She never questioned. She had to accept a lot of behaviour and choices that the great institution labelled as sinful from me and she did, always. But in the end, her own private questions about the destruction of one of her sons by hierarchical hand washing greater than Pilate, was agony for her.
Our Family broke! !
In 2015 my dreams took a turn towards terror! I could not remember them even when they woke my husband because I was calling out or sobbing or shaking. My brother died in 2014. Brain cancer. Brilliance destroyed. He was 68. My oldest brother died in 2016. MND. Husband father. Brilliant educator. Almost 20 years a hero of the bastard of a disease. He was 72. Gratitude that my Mum was already dead!
My dreams are back!
Last night, in my dream, I was at the top of Harriet Street on the corner with Georgetown Road. It was the spot where every afternoon on my way home from school I would pause to check for traffic, look across the road the see my home. The third house from the corner down from the Police wireless station. Sometimes Mum would be on the verandah and call out to me.
In my dream I saw a woman. I knew her. She was standing on the other side holding a chubby, smiling baby. I could see her eyes and I began to call to her. I knew it was a baby girl. I knew she was in her grandmother’s arms. The baby smiled and I smiled “you’ve got your Grandma detector on” I called to her. Focus shifted to the background.
No houses. It wasn’t the past. It was the present! Nine houses gone replaced by the blinding glare of the cement car park. Further down the hill, the local bottle recycling drop off point. “Come on over” the cry from the woman. Panic was my response and then tears. I could not. Too dangerous for them and for me and my unvaccinated son and his father.
The psychiatrist on the government team today said “this is the most sustained and serious stress many of us will experience.
- Have a stress management plan.
- Assume everyone is dealing with stress. Create structure in your life. Exercise, contact, talk about meaningful things.
- Monitor your diet, alcohol and sleep
And she who is in charge reminded us that “close loved ones are dying.” We were invited to imagine the lifetime of guilt we would be inflicting on ourselves if we passed the virus on to our elderly loved ones.
So here I sit. Sun still beaming. Birds abounding. Not a broken winged one of them in sight. The jasmine and the frangipani trees are starting to announce the coming of spring, as foretold by she who is in charge in a “green shoot reference” in what she thought was a turning point in the pandemic.
The thing of it is, that for all their blathering on about hope, hope is being destroyed by slogan and jingoism and the cranking out of past rallying calls from war! I want to hug each of my children. I haven’t seen one of them and his family since 2019. I used to drive the 1100 kilometres to visit him at least twice a year. One of my grand daughters turned 3 in March. I have not seen her on her birthday since she was 1. Another of my grand daughters has had two birthdays and I have not been there. What was an anticipated year of family celebrations: 50 years of marriage, 50th birthday of our first born, 70th birthday for me, 10th birthday of our grandson, 30th birthday of a niece. The prospect of a family reunion in August is for 2022 perhaps!
The travel restrictions allow me to visit my parents’ grave and I have. I feel peace and connection there. But the tangible, embraceable connections to them, forever present to me in my children and theirs remains unattainable and so my dreams return as broken-winged birds that cannot fly.