Now the one about the older woman…
She is old. While taller, by feeling she resembles my Oma, my father’s mother who loved her son, her grandchildren and great grandchildren fiercely.
Always independent, as her husband lay dying of cancer, Oma, in her sixties, learned to drive, maneuvering the freeways, charming the immigration officers as she crossed the bridge to Canada, to us, with her VW Rabbit stuffed with gifts and groceries. Decades earlier, in the little Black Forest town of Germany, during and after World War II, she worked three jobs to support herself and my father. Those were her best years, the ones she storied for us with joy, pride and determination. Until she came to live her last years in Canada, close to her family.
But this woman of my dream is my height and stature. And she is Italian.
I am in Italy. I have just finished a simple, homemade, delicious dinner. I may be with a friend. I have been staying here for a while, long enough to have become familiar with, close even to the Nonna who prepared this meal.
She has been a teacher to me. I feel a deep love and appreciation for her in my life. In my broken Italian, I thank her for the good, good food. We laugh together at my attempts to say just how good…
”Insalata, ahhhh…. buonissimo! Si?”
She encourages me, asks me what else I’ll eat.
“Il dolce?” she asks and playfully hugs and tugs at my body to see if I can afford to let myself have this sweet, the sweetest part of the meal, of life?
I hug her and say in Italian “I love you” through the tears I am now crying, through an even deeper sadness that is suddenly coming up from my depths.
Holding her, despite her strength, suddenly I know she is dying. I see her face and while she is not my Oma, Oma is evoked. I love this woman very much. Again, I say, in Italian, “I love you.”
Again, and again.
Last October I awoke quietly crying from this dream. I was on a favourite island in the Pacific Northwest – it has become one of my heart places – where, without fail, I spend most nights immersed in vivid dreamscapes.
The convergence of mountain, sea and sky energies are a great catalyst for my dream maker’s talents, though I’m not always able to retrieve her creations, so plentiful that I often awake feeling tired for the travelling. However, that pre-dawn morning, the dream and feelings it evoked, deeply moved me, and stayed with me for hours, making it easy for me to journal, to contemplate, and finally to glean its gift. Even now as I write, it’s easy for me to conjure the scene and its characters, to step back into the story, to taste those feelings.
With reflection I realized that in my dream, in my broken Italian, I had said to this Nonna, “Mi’amo,” thinking I was saying “I love you” when really I was saying, over and over, “I love me.” The dream maker never errs. This was not a Freudian slip.
This wise old woman, this Nonna-Oma feeds me, loves me, plays with me, teaches me. I eat her food. I take in her love, her joy, her playfulness.
I ingest her. I take her into me. She becomes me and in so doing, is dying.
A holy communion.
A few weeks later, I read a dear wise woman words about the necessity for us each to take back and eat the hope we have projected onto others, to nourish ourselves so as to become our own hope, our own leaders, and our own fiercely loving, joyful, playful Nonna-Omas.