Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Can’t Stop Thinking About a Dream


I’m at an age when I can’t remember whether or not people have died. So when I see a cousin or friend I haven’t seen in a long time I’m afraid to ask questions like, “How’s your dad doing?” or “Where’s your brother living these days?” even though I’m genuinely interested in knowing the answers. I had a dream a few nights ago that had me trying to remember if a person I’d known since birth was alive or dead. In recent years I’ve made good use of googling a person’s name plus the word “obituary” to get answers to the ‘dead or alive’ questions. As my mom used to say, “There’s more than one way to skin a kitty.” 

That phrase, by the way, first appeared in print in the mid eighteen hundreds when a man was brought before the courts of England in an animal crudity case. He was literally skinning cats alive. Such a gruesome image but since my mom didn’t sit around reading old court records from countries she’d where she’d never been, I have to believe she read it in a Mark Twain book. He used a variation of the phrase as a metaphor in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in 1889. “…She was wise, subtle, and knew more than one way to skin a cat, that is, more than one way to get what she wanted.” Mom had a related skin-the-kitty phrase she used often when I was growing up and even after her grandchildren came along. “Let’s skin the kitty,” she’d say as she helped us out of our pajama tops and sweatshirts. Heck, even I say it to Levi My Mighty Schnauzer when I peel his winter sweater off his body. And it just dawned on me why he takes off like he’s been shot out of a cannon when I’m finished with the task. The word “kitty” is an important noun in his life. “Is that kitty in the yard again?” “What’s that kitty doing back there?” “Stop barking at that kitty!” He’d probably thinks there’s a cat near-by when I mention skinning one.

Back to my the dream that had me wondering if an old friend---Al---was alive or dead. In the dream I was snuggling up to him and my husband walked by and said, “Well, I guess you’re with him now” and kept on walking. “I am?” I asked Al and he gave me the alpha male predator smile and pulled me tighter to his body. Al and I spent all our summers growing up just four cottages away from each other. Along with his younger sister and my older brother, we spent our days playing cowboys and Indians, hiking around the lake, camping in the woods and walking to the store several miles away for ice cream. As teenagers we played a lot of poker and Monopoly together on rainy days and long nights before TV was invented. And I never, ever had a romantic thought about him in all those years or since so the idea of snuggling with him in my dream shocked me awake. 

I couldn’t let go of the fact that I was dreaming about a person I hadn’t seen in probably twenty years. We’ve exchanged Christmas letters every year, though. He’s a good writer with a better memory than me so I always enjoyed reading the reminiscing he’d shared in his holiday letters. That dream and the fact that he didn’t send a letter this year had me searching the internet. The problem with that is there are fewer and fewer people choosing to put obituaries into a searchable format so the fact that I didn’t find an obituary for Al still leaves a slight doubt in my mind. We used to be able to check the phone book to see if someone is still listed. And if you are asking, “What’s a phone book?” you’re too young to be reading old people’s blogs.

I remember many of my dreams and often look them up in the Dream Moods online dictionary. Here’s what it said about seeing a childhood friend in a dream: It “…signifies regression into your past where you had no responsibilities. Things were much simpler and carefree. You may be wanting to escape the pressures and stresses of adulthood.” Not Shit Sherlock! Have you seen the news lately! But when figuring out the meaning of our dreams the so-called experts say the action in them is the most important part and about getting hugged, the dictionary says, “To dream that someone is hugging you suggests that you need to let down your guard and allow your true feelings to show." It could also mean “that you need to allow yourself to heal emotionally.” But the million dollar question is was it the hugging/snuggling the most important action in my dream or was it the fact that my husband was essentially abandoned me? I’m not sure if I really buy into dream analysis other that it’s a fun diversion but its spooky how often the interpretations fit. For abandonment the dictionary suggests that it may be time to leave past feelings behind and that “the fear of abandonment is part of the healing process after losing a loved one." ©

Note: The photo at the top is of the kids I spent all my summers with growing up. We were at a camp we built back in the woods behind our cottages. I'm the one holding back from watching a snake in the creek. 

27 comments:

  1. Andy and I have all sorts of weird dreams, and we don't try to analyze them. But I can see why this one could be full of meaning. If I dreamed that someone was hugging me I would feel I missed being hugged. But that's just me.

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    1. I do missing being hugged and give them, but it was not a comforting dream.

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  2. Skin the cat saying is one I recall being said in some circumstances. Horrible to think of the origins. Trying to decipher dream meanings can be interesting. I tend to go with the feelings they generate being related to what I’m experiencing in my daily life, too. Checking the life status of people in my past has had mixed results — learning in one instance a friend had died long after communication ceased. Months later a daughter wrote me. Others I searched I fear may be experiencing dementia or even Alzheimer’s as haven’t found an obituary. But, I agree, obituaries don’t seem to be as readily available since they’ve long since ceased being as readily available as they once were. Internet is much less helpful in many ways than our phone books were.

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    1. I specifically total my nieces I don't care about them having a funeral for me but I do want them to put an obituary in the paper. I spent too much time doing genealogy research not to see the value in obituaries.

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  3. I was intrigued by your mention that some are choosing not to put obits online. There have been a couple of times that I haven't been able to find one, and wondered about it, since I knew the person had died. Eventually, I discovered that Find-a-Grave often will provide at least the most basic information: i.e., date of death via a photo of a gravestone.

    We talked about different ways to skin a cat, just a different phrase for the same action. That was some funny hypothesizing about Levi and his response to the word 'kitty.' It makes perfect sense. It may be just as well he's thinking you're talking about a kitty 'out there' and doesn't realize you're comparing him to a kitty!

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    1. Find-a-Grace doesn't work for someone who was cremated but it's sure helps with genealogy research.

      The more I think about it the more I know that's what Levi thinks. I can get him to run look out the window by just asking him if the kitty is out there. The darn old cat has been mousing in my back field for 5-6 years and quite the attitude.

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  4. I'm like you in that I'm not sure that I totally believe in dream analysis, but I enjoy thinking about whether the analysis might be true. I figure that if something makes you feel more whole in your life, then it's a good thing for you to do.

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    1. I'm fascinated by the fact that someone took the time to write that dictionary and how extensive it is. I used to keep a journal of all my dreams and what I thought they meant, got really good at remembering them by writing them down before I even got out of bed. But then my dad went into the early stages of dementia and couldn't tell his dreams for his daytime life and some of his dreams really distressed him and he'd call my brother or me during the night. That's when I decided not purposely try to hold on to my dreams anymore.

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  5. It's often as easy to accept dream analysis as it is horoscopes; many kernels of general truth can be found in each. There is a science to dreaming, however. I'm sure your brain is trying to figure something out in there!

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    1. That's a good comparison. Dreaming, from my understanding, comes from our brains trying to transfer our short term memories of what occurred that day to a different part of our brains where we store our long term memories and we do it during rem sleep. Our brains are like computers that drop bits of data off wherever it can find room thus the broken up stuff like dreaming of someone we hadn't seen in years.

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  6. Maybe it is all the caution we are getting daily about limiting human contact with fist and elbow bumps. The more hugs are banned, the more we will miss them. Maybe you were just going back into your past when it was safe to hug. I am going to a luncheon tomorrow and know all the hugs will be sidelined. I will miss them.

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    1. The son-I-wish-I-had was here on Monday and he hugged me when he came in and I said, "We're still doing hugs during coronavirus season?" He's a Trump supporter so I really wasn't surprised that he thinks it's all hype. When this is all over---a year from now, they say---I wonder if we, as a nation, will get back to hugging again. It's sad. Fist and elbow bumps just aren't the same.

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  7. I rarely remember my dreams ... and they are always comforting and good. Sheesh, I'm even a Pollyanna in the dream department.

    Do the time changes influence your dreams? Full moons?

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    1. Full moons effect my ability to get to sleep big time. If I see it coming I'll take a sleeping pill and even that doesn't help all that much. Time changes don't bother me at all. I don't get even deep sleep according to my Fitbit and I think that effects my enhanced ability to remember my dreams.

      That's funny that you are a Pollyanna even in your dreams. I think our dreams do mimic what's going on in our waking life to come extent.

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  8. Doesn't it suck when you can't remember bits of a dream and really want to fill in the bits

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  9. I don’t know if I believe in a lot of what the dream analysis books/websites have to say. Dreams are so personal and any symbols or themes will have different meanings for each person. It’s maybe a good starting point on digging down on the potential meaning but then I think it’s time to sit quietly and think about what your brain might be telling you through the dream, and using your intuition to suss it out. That’s what I do.

    Deb

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    1. I've been playing with dream dictionaries for 40 years. I find my dreams entertaining but I don't take them too seriously.

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  10. I'm glad I don't recall Dreams hardly ever, the few I ever have recalled were so absurd that figuring out a Meaning would be interesting at best and Lord knows what analysis might imply?! *LOL*

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    1. With your attraction to the macabre in decorating your dreams would be fun to try to figure out. Nothing standard in dream dictionaries would apply. LOL

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    2. Gee, how did you just KNOW I have Macabre Dreams?! Winks

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  11. I just glanced at the photo and assumed it was kids playing in a graveyard, which is always a fine setting for a dream. What IS that in the foreground??

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    1. That's a firepit---rocks with an old grate on the top where we cooked. It was our camp site complete with an old Army surplus tent and a fence all the way around it that we made out of branches. We had that camp for years and even my nieces and nephew used it after my generation grew up.

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  12. Dreams fascinate me. I have an old book from the 70s on dream interpretation. It sometimes fits. But I took a workshop once by a UU minister who worked with people and their dreams and he was of the opinion that we all intuitively already know what our dreams mean...he encouraged finding our own meaning, no matter how strange. He was masterful at helping people interpret for themselves and then finding a way for that interpretation to help them in their lives. He said dreams always have a positive lesson to teach. I was in a dream group for some months after that workshop with other attendees. Over the years I've stopped thinking much about my dreams, but it is definitely interesting to me.

    Also where did "knock on wood" come from??? I'll have to Google that!

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    1. All I remember about the 'knock on wood' phrase is it had to do with the Celts and their belief that spirits lived in trees. Knocking on wood gets harder and harder to these days with so much composition, metal and plastic stuff around.

      I pretty much agree with your UU minister on the value of dream interpretation and instinctively being able to figuring out their meanings.

      I don't think about mine as much as I did years ago but, like you, I still interested...especially when they come out with new science based studies on what goes on in the brain when me dream.

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  13. I wish I could remember dreams. I rarely can. I know I had one related to the virus the other day but I can't remember it. Just an overall impression. I don't know about dream interp. Maybe that's good or I'd overthink everything like I usually do anyway!

    On another note, thanks for your visits. Because I reply directly but don't have a contact info for you, I'm negligent in mentioning when I visit. But you always DO leave the best comments and I love it when you're there.

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    1. The trick to remembering your dreams is to have a paper and pen with a light built into next to the bed so the second you wake up you jot down whatever you remember. It will take weeks of doing this before you start getting more and more details to transfer over from your subconscious to your conscious mind. I don't have to do that anymore and all I have to do now is stay the details out loud.

      I love your blog!

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