A dream from this afternoon’s kinetic napping action:
It is nighttime. I pull into the driveway of my grandmother’s old house. The garage door is open and the overhead light is on. The water heater is out of place; it’s right in the middle of the garage. I get out of the car and have a look at the heater. The pipes have been detached and the thermostat has been removed and sits on top. I examine the thermostat and begin to rewire it. Hopefully Gram won’t come out to the garage because it’s late at night and I don’t want to spook her.
The door to the house creaks open. I loudly announce that it’s me and that I’m working on the heater. She looks the same as the last time we spoke: houseclothes, broken nose, a shock of white hair, fragile and pale and tired. How she doesn’t look is surprised; at her age she probably can’t be surprised anymore. She says that when I’m finished I should come inside for dinner.
I set down the thermostat, close the garage door and slide the lock into place. I walk through the darkened house to the guest bathroom, take a tiny Dixie cup from the dispenser, and flip on the faucet. Three times I fill the cup with water and drink, then turn the faucet off and trash the cup. I leave the bathroom.
All of the lights are on. A lot of family is in the den; parents, siblings, aunts, cousins. How they snuck in is beyond me. But there they are, chatting and eating brand-name pizza that’s been delivered (we need an html tag for “revulsion”), which means something is amiss.
Gram emerges from the kitchen. She looks like a CEO. She’s wearing a pantsuit, her hair is dark reddish, short, and professional. She is smiling and vibrant and this centenarian looks like she has another 30 or 40 years in her.
I’m stunned at the transformation, but everyone else acts like this is the normal Gram. I suddenly feel out of place but certainly glad to be here. I approach her, wondering if I’m supposed to find this version of Gram familiar. She acts as if there’s nothing strange at all about the evening. She gives me a bear hug and asks how I’ve been. When she speaks her voice is crisp and strong and confident as ever. She shrugs off the delivered pizza, she shrugs off the incident in the garage, everything is wonderful.
After a few minutes of discussing the last few years, she says Grampa’s in the bedroom if I want to go see him. This throws me even further off guard. Of course, I say, and charge into the master bedroom.
Grampa lies in the yellow-framed bed, which has been moved next to the sliding glass doors. He looks painfully gaunt, even underneath two heavy knit blankets, and has several days’ worth of stubble. He is as he looked in the last few days of his life, but he is far more alert. He speaks to me but I am at a loss for words and can’t say much back.
I take out my cell phone and try to take a picture of him with the camera. It doesn’t work. I fumble around with it, trying to figure out what’s wrong. Someone walks in and says, “That’s not going to work.”
Me: “What’s not going to work?”
Someone: “It won’t be there when you wake up.”
It is a dream, and I’ll awaken soon, but damned if I’m not gonna get his picture anyways. I frantically punch the camera button on the phone. The app finally opens. I aim and click the shutter release over and over again, but the shutter won’t snap.
I woke up and, knowing exactly how silly it seemed, dutifully checked my phone.