I had a dream about my mother last night. I haven't dreamt about her in a long time, and last night was probably the longest, most coherent dream I've had since she died, and one of the first times that it hasn't been so much about her being sick. I dreamt that Brian and I saw her at the conference we went to in Savannah, GA. I walked in to the main ballroom for the beginning of the conference and there she was. I went right over and hugged her, told her how much I missed her. I don't remember all the details, but later we were out on the street and I was asking how things were for her now. She said, "Great. There's a guy who makes the most wonderful food for us." The dream went on the way dreams do - fuzzy and somewhat disconnected, me trying to get more time with my mom or trying to have a longer conversation and various things getting in the way. I woke up feeling like I wanted to remember that dream, like it had been different from all the others in some way.
I've been thinking a lot in the past few days about how we become like our parents. I see Dora becoming like Brian and I already - doing things I used to do, wearing my baby hat, reading books I used to read, now even playing with things that were mine. When I was home for Thanksgiving my dad gave me a little chalkboard desk that I remember playing with. In fact, it still has my name on it.
Dora loves it. And she loves Richard Scarry books, just like Brian and I used to. We read her "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go" and there are illustrations on nearly every page that I remember from my childhood.
Aside from doing things that we used to do as kids, Dora is really into imitating us now. She sits at Brian's keyboard, sticks a pencil behind her ear just like he does, puts music up in front of her, and plays the piano. She pretends to cook in the kitchen with me, she insists on walking "Furphy" while I walk Newman. She says, "I'll be right back, ok?" which is something I saw ALL the time. Her vocabulary is amazing. I gave her a dandelion on our dog walk the other day and she said, "Nice! It's so pretty!". I asked her what color the dandelion was and she said, "yellow". Every day she does something like that - says something new, or copies some action or expression that we do - and I am reminded both of how quickly she is growing up and how much she is learning every day. I definitely don't always feel like we're doing everything right - I am quite sure we're not, given Dora's absolute obsession with The Muppets (tonight while watching she said, "Piggy dancing and singing!"). Even so, I take her ability to imitate us and express herself, even draw what actually does look like a kitty - albeit one with about 25 legs - as a sign that we're doing ok. She's learning and growing and turning into a little girl, a little combination of Brian and I that charms me, sometimes frustrates me, and opens my eyes.
I see our parents in Brian and I, too. Both of us have followed in our father's footsteps in terms of career choice - Brian in music like his dad, and me in journalism and then local government like mine. Brian's got the Brause sense of humor, too, and when he's with his mom and her family members I can see how the Brause clan has had a big influence on who he is, his mannerisms. I see things in myself that come from my mom, too, and other things that I suspect were somehow passed genetically to me from my extended family. Am I so enamored with knitting in part because my aunt Joanne, my mom's sister, is a prolific and talented knitter? Am I branching out into sewing because of the impeccable precision and quilt-making talent of Great-Grandma Carrie, my namesake? Did my pie crust get passed to me from my aunt Frieda, my dad's sister?
What have I passed on to Dora in the same way? A penchant for nakedness? I'm wondering if that might be genetic, too.
My mother used to say that, after someone died, she would dream of them. The deceased person would come to her in her dreams and they would be young, healthy, at their prime. They would tell her, "I'm ok, I'm fine, I'm happy". Those dreams didn't make her stop grieving, but they eased her pain in some way. And those dreams were very consistent. To my knowledge, she always had them. I've been waiting for that dream, for that chance to see my mother in my dreams and hear her say she is ok. I've been hoping that, like the knitting and the sewing and the good pie crust, this is a trait that somehow got passed on to me. Last night's dream wasn't that dream, but maybe it was close. Maybe it was a preview, a glimmer of some future dream where my mom will come to me and say, "I'm ok, I'm fine, I'm happy" and I can say, "I am, too". Maybe she'll say, "I love you and I miss you", to which I can say, "me too, mom, me too".