Meeting Grandpa Mason

I have this silly little head game I play.  If it ever comes up in conversation, I say that I never met my grandfather when he was alive.  Most of the time this comment goes right over the head, but now and then someone gets my meaning and gives me either a strange or a knowing look.  I will also clarify – this is not the musical grandfather – that was my mother’s father.

This happened in about 1996 so this is the first trip I’m posting in the Way Back Machine.  But since Grandpa Mason was the second person to show up in my first reading, I am going to take a brief detour and post about my past history with him.

At the time this happened, my sister and I were getting back into the family genealogy project.  Our family has been researching itself for at least four generations; Linda and I picked up where my mother left off.  The odd thing is we weren’t even researching my dad’s side of the family when this happened.

My sister was living in California in those days.  She was flying in that evening for a visit.  I’d left work early so I could pick her up at the airport.  It was about 3:00 in the afternoon and I had a half hour or so before I had to leave, so I decided to lie down and take a short nap with my dog.  The dog we had at the time was Crystal – a nervous, yappy American Eskimo Dog.

I fell asleep, then opened my eyes and found myself lying on one of those sofas with the bumpy irregular upholstery that everybody seemed to have in the 1960’s and 70’s.  I sat up and there – right in front of me – were my deceased grandparents.  They were sitting in front of a window across the room from the sofa.  Really bright white light was streaming in through the window behind them.  Grandma was sitting in a chair and Grandpa was sitting on the ottoman that matched the chair, slightly in front of her.  My mother was sitting in another chair off to the right (she was alive then, but was still in this dream for whatever reason).  They (the grandparents) just radiated this intense feeling of warmth, love, peace, happiness ….

I’d never been in this room before but I recognized a lot of my grandmother’s furniture.  I am pretty sure she still had that chair and ottoman in the apartment she lived in during my lifetime, and her floor lamp with the embroidered shade, antique table, and some other things were also there.  To the right was a doorway going into another room that looked like it was either a dining room or a kitchen.  What is difficult to convey is how REAL all of it was.  I remember the way it smelled.  I remember the way it felt.  I knew it was somewhere they’d lived before I was born.  Lucid dreams are very much this way – they seem more real that waking reality does.

They hadn’t said anything at this point.  They were just smiling at me.  The dog was also on the sofa with me so I picked her up, carried her over, and put her on my grandfather’s lap.  He started petting her and I said, “Well, I guess she isn’t afraid of ghosts!”  They all laughed!

However in waking reality something had woken up the dog, and she was beginning to growl.  Even though I was asleep and in this lucid dream I could feel the dog growling next to me.  I knew that in a few seconds she was going to bark and wake me up.

They knew it too – they all stood up like it was time to go home – just like the end of a normal family visit on planet Earth.  Grandpa Mason was standing right in front of me and I can remember exactly how tall he was, how he looked, how he smelled.  There was something that caught my attention about his shirt.  It didn’t look like a normal store bought dress shirt.  It was very white and very starched and carefully laundered.  I started to get kind of emotional and teary eyed.  “At least I got to meet you once!” I said.

He gave me a hug goodbye.  He was tall, thin and had very broad shoulders.  Then the dog barked and I woke up.  I was completely freaked out!  Still crying a little I called my mother and told her all of this.  She immediately clammed up.  This was before they were very comfortable with the fact that I did this kind of stuff (and that they did it too) so she was rather evasive when I described the room.  Years later, when all the fear about these experiences had blown over, she told me that it was the living room of the little house in Kinlock where they lived in after Grandpa retired.  She said it was Grandma’s favorite house.  She had to move away from it after Grandpa died – she moved from there into the apartment where she was living when I was born.

When I picked my sister up at the airport I told her this story right away.  She looked at me kind of funny.

“Didn’t you ever hear that story about how Grandma saw Grandpa the day after he died, standing at the foot of their bed?”

“No!” I said.  “It happened five years before I was born!”

“Oh, I guess you’re right!” (They always forget I wasn’t there)  “Well, she did!  It was in broad daylight – she walked into the bedroom and there he was.  She never did tell us what they talked about.  But anyway – she said that he was wearing a shirt she made for him right after they were married.”

If that isn’t enough eerie history with this grandfather, there is one more story.  This is part of the whole I-was-originally-supposed-to-be-born-in-1956-drama of my childhood.  Somehow I went on a 13 year detour and by the time I finally showed up, I was shocked and horrified by how old everybody was and the fact that 3 out of 4 grandparents had died off.  In first grade one day they took us all to the school library and read us this story about family relationships.  There was a grandfather in this story and as soon as I heard it, I freaked out and started bawling and screaming.  The teachers could not get me to stop it so they took me to the nurses’ office, who also gave up and called my mother to come and take me home.  After rocking me in the rocking chair for a while she got me to settle down enough to tell her what happened.  And then she told me this story.

“When the other kids were little Grandma and Grandpa Mason came over every Sunday after church.  And he always brought a bag of penny candy for each kid.  But the funny thing was, he always brought four bags.  He never told us why he did this and I usually ended up eating the extra bag of candy.  But I think it was because he knew you would be born someday.”

I quit bawling and life returned to normal (for the time being, anyway).  Years later she denied this insisting she made the story up to get me to shut up, but did have to admit that he DID bring four bags of penny candy each week.  Why?  I guess I should ask him the next time I see him.