Dead People Dreams

Last night I dreamt about Grandma (Dad’s mom, she of the pill suitcase).

Do you ever dream about dead people? No, that sounds a bit too Sixth-Sense-ish…I guess I should should ask, “Do you ever dream about people who have died?”

But wait…I really do mean “dead people.” Because when I ask, “Do you ever dream about people who have died?” it sounds as though in the context of the dream they are still alive, in some incarnation of their if-not-younger, then at least not-yet-dead self.

But in my dream about Grandma, I knew she was dead, even though she was right there in front of me, walking and talking and, OK I’ll admit it, complaining.

She was mad at me, you see. Pissed off, to be exact, that I hadn’t thought to send her a beautiful bouquet of Easter flowers.

“But Grandma,” I protested, “I’ve never sent you flowers for Easter!”

Never during her life, I meant. And certainly (obviously!) not since she’d died.

But that didn’t matter to her. She was still upset, fuming in fact, and threatening not to speak to me anymore.

And in my dream, that didn’t seem weird.

It’s not the first time I’ve had that oddly dualistic but somehow completely normal feeling in a dream of “here I am talking to someone, who I know passed away years ago, and it doesn’t at all seem strange that they’re right here in front of me, seemingly alive and well, but dead.”

But it’s not usually with Grandma. More often, it’s Mom.

In the heart-breaking months after she died, I dreamt of her often. And whenever she made an appearance, I knew she was dead, but I was just so happy she was there.

And who knows? Maybe she was. Not a dream, exactly. Definitely not a ghost. Just…there.

Even now, 18 years later, I dream about Mom from time to time. Last week she showed up in a bizarre dream about my best friend’s wedding (which she didn’t, in real life attend (already being dead and all) but to which she most certainly would have been invited had she still been alive). It wasn’t bizarre because my dead mother was there as a wedding guest–that seemed perfectly logical in that illogical dream-like kind of way–but because my best friend had chosen six girls I’d never even heard of to be her bridesmaids, while I was relegated to driving the limo. In any case, I was surprised but thrilled to see that this time around, instead of the close-cropped salt-and-pepper chemo fuzz she was left with at the end of her life (and that she’d continued to have in every dream I’d had of her since), Mom was sporting a full head of thick hair in the red tones she’d always preferred.

I don’t need Freud to tell me that I have some unresolved guilt about not being a very good grand-daughter. Or that nearly two decades later I’m still working through the grief of losing my mom, but might finally be getting closer to remembering her for the woman she was instead of the cancer that took her. (Or even that it’s been too long since I saw my best friend and it’s time to set up a coffee date.)

I guess I’m just fascinated with how a dream can seem more like a visit. And how the conscious mind can deny what is real and true so fiercely (“she can’t be dead,” “she can’t be gone”) while the unconscious mind can reconcile what seems to be two opposing, impossible states with one bittersweet duality: she’s here, but she’s dead. But she’s here.



Feeling grey. Or is that blue?

Last week we had several straight days of rain. Even a little snow (sorry, my fault…I washed and put away the hats, mittens and scarves for the season but Mother Nature got the last word in).

I feel it both mentally and physically when the days are grey like that. I’m more tired and draggy. Headachey. I don’t feel like going out. I don’t feel like doing much of anything. I just want to curl up inside and wait for some beautiful blue skies.

So…grey bad, blue good. Right?

Not always.

Since The Great Ensuite Reno of 2015, I’ve been systematically repainting every wall in the house in shades of grey. (For the record, the book lied. There are way more than 50.)

First I took the same pale shade that’s on our ensuite walls (Benjamin Moore’s Barren Plain) and covered the sickly yellow of the upstairs hall, staircase, downstairs hall and living room. I had always been unhappy with the yellow but because we had paid a professional to paint it a decade earlier I had learned to live with it.

The difference was remarkable. It made the hallways simultaneously brighter and calmer. Plus, it made a perfect backdrop in the living room to the pair of vintage blue tub chairs I had inherited from my dad and his wife.

So…grey good, blue good. Right?

Yeah, no.

The dining room, which was another colour our “professional” had chosen for us, was next on my list (somewhere between olive and mud is the best I can describe it). I wanted a deeper, more dramatic grey than the living room and spent the better part of a week moving paint chips around the room at different times of day to determine which would be best. Finally I settled on Pigeon Grey (also by Benjamin Moore).

Have you seen a pigeon lately? I guess I’d never noticed how blue they were. While I love my vintage blue chairs and blue decorative accents in the living room, I never intended on having an entirely blue adjacent dining room. And unfortunately, with the light from the one small dining room window reflecting off the snow outside, the Pigeon Grey on the walls ended up much cooler and, well, bluer, than I’d intended.

So…grey good, blue bad.


Thankfully once the furniture was back in, the new curtains were up and the snow outside melted (thank you, Mother Nature), the blueness of the dining room warmed up a little. Satisfied, I dove into my next painting project: the entryway.

The entryway was painted a deep rosy-taupe that we had chosen the year we moved into the house (1999) to go with the circa 1986 pink 12″x12″ floor tiles (I would call them “vintage” too, but let’s face it: they’re just ugly). It owed us nothing after 18 years and was way overdue for a refresh.

There was no money in the budget for flooring, so the best I could do was find something to downplay the pink (including a large door mat). I wanted to stick with the grey theme, and since I had lots of Pigeon Grey leftover I slapped some of it on the walls.

If you think grey looks blue in a north-facing wintery dining room, imagine how it looks next to pink floor tiles. It was like a pigeon had exploded on the walls.

So I tried a little leftover Barren Plain. Which was so plain it looked white, which made the tiles even pinker.

Several hundred paint chips later I painted the entryway CIL’s Granite Grey. It’s the perfect dark, dramatic grey I originally had in mind for the dining room (don’t worry, Luc, I won’t be repainting it anytime soon). And, paired with a large charcoal door mat and black accents, elevates the entryway from functional to, dare I say it, sophisticated (pink floor tiles notwithstanding).

All of this to say that yesterday was our first bright, sunny day of spring, complete with crisp blue skies and warm yellow sunshine. And while I dislike both yellow and blue on my walls (especially in the soupy combination we had going with olive, mud and rosy-taupe), I don’t mind any of them in any combination outside, the way Mother Nature intended.

And today, we’re back to rain and grey.

But I’m writing away in my calm and soothing grey-toned house and loving it.

So…grey? It’s all good. And there’s no more feeling blue. You might even say I’m tickled pink.