With all of the reading I’ve been doing lately about dreams, synchronicity, and shared dreaming I thought I would write the story of Grandma Mason’s passing. This happened in 1984 when I was fourteen years old. I was in about … eighth grade. It is hard to remember exactly what grade I was in but I definitely remember what book we were reading in English class: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Unlike everyone else in the class I loved reading this stuff. The teacher would assign chapter one and I would get so wrapped up in the book I’d read the entire thing the first night. Then I’d have to go back and read it again with the class so I could remember which chapters where which!
At this time my dad’s mother – Grandma Mason – had just been admitted to a personal care home. She was 89 years old and had been having problems living alone for the past year. The place was not nearby and I’d only been there once or twice. The visit just after New Year’s I remember vividly. I went with my brothers, Bob and John, in John’s truck. A few days before he’d gotten sick while he was out somewhere and barfed on the side of his truck. It was January in Pittsburgh so the barf froze before he could clean it all off and as a result, the inside of the truck absolutely reeked. This is the kind of stuff that is hard to forget even if you try really hard. But it makes a great peg to hang other, more memorable, memories upon.
I should also point out that Grandma Mason was (is) extremely psychic. She could see ghosts and told lots of great ghost stories. She also had a lot of precognitive dreams. Her abilities co-existed peacefully with her religiousness. She was the most genuine Christian I’ve ever known. I wish I’d thought to ask her more about that, but at the time I was just interested in bugging her with questions about ghosts and dreams. This dream occured in early February, soon after I arrived home from school. I was reading Great Expectations in bed and fell asleep, most likely because I’d stayed up late the night before reading the entire book. I was wandering around in a big red brick hospital I’d never seen before when I realized I was dreaming. I didn’t know why I was there or what I was looking for. But something did strike me as odd. On all the bulletin boards and pasted here and there on the walls were construction paper hearts, some of them pasted on top of lace paper doilies. Eventually I wandered past a waiting room and spotted Grandma Mason! She was sitting in one of the ugly 1970’s colored vinyl chairs wearing what appeared to be a very old wedding dress and was holding a bouquet of flowers that were brown, shriveled, and dead. I went over and sat down beside her.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I’m waiting. I have to go soon.”
“What do you mean? Go where?”
“I have to go.”
Yes it sounds like an inane conversation, but when she repeated this phrase I immediately understood what she meant. “You can’t go!” I insisted. “I’m not ready for this! You’re the only grandparent I have left!”
She patted my leg. “Please don’t be upset. You have to understand, I’ve waited for this a very LONG time. But I can’t stay anymore. I stayed as long as I could.”
Then a door opened up and an extremely bright light shone through it. It was so bright I couldn’t see anything in the room, just the bright white light.
“That’s it!” she said, growing excited. “I have to go now. But don’t worry – you’re going to be fine. It’s just something that everybody has to go through. And don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I’m looking forward to this, as difficult as that is to understand for someone your age.”
She stood up and walked into this light. I didn’t think I could even stand to watch. But at the last minute my curiosity got the best of me and I looked up. She was in the white light now and was completely transformed. She was young! The dress looked brand new and the flowers were white and fresh. She smiled at me, waved, and tossed the bouquet. I caught it. I looked down and saw that the bouquet was made from three white Easter lilies. They were so real I could smell them! The pollen from the stamens in the center came off on my fingers, powdery yellow. I then I woke up with Great Expectations jabbing me in the back. Like most people would I attributed the dream to what I was reading.
Fast forward a couple weeks. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of the phone ringing. The phone ringing in the middle of the night could only mean one thing – somebody was dead. And I knew who. But I didn’t get up because I couldn’t deal with it.
The next morning I got up for school and got dressed. I sat in front of my dressing table and did my best to suck up so I could go down stairs and have my parents tell me my grandmother was dead. I could’ve milked it for a day off school but I decided not to. I was going to go and act normal. She told me not to worry about it. So suck up! Right?
I went downstairs to breakfast and Dad told me she died during the night. He said she started to hemorrhage late at night and they’d taken her by ambulance to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. She died at West Penn. Why is this detail important? Because a couple of years later my mother got a job at West Penn. She took me there one day to show me and imagine my shock when I recognized it as the hospital from this dream! Then I remembered something! It was Valentine’s Day! And I understood that part of the dream. What I didn’t get was if she was already dead and came back in time to warn me, if she was somehow sharing my dream two weeks before she died, or if my subconscious mind knew when and where she was going to die and created this elaborate dream to pass the information through. To this day I honestly don’t know. But the interaction felt genuine. It felt like she was really there, rather than it just being a dream image of her.
“What time did she die?” I asked.
“A little while after midnight,” he said. “About 12:30.”
“Then she really did die on Valentine’s Day,” I said.
“You’re right! I didn’t realize it. She always said people in her family died on holidays.”
And then, as if to further underscore her message that everything was fine and I shouldn’t worry, the synchronicities began. The weather did a full U turn – it was the middle of February and suddenly it was 75 degrees outside! It stayed warm like that for the entire duration of the funeral. It smelled like Easter. Odd references to Easter kept popping up and white lilies or images of white lilies seemed to be everywhere.
I was 14 years old and I’d never heard of any white light before, or had any idea of what it was for or where it lead. I had a vague idea that my Grandmother went to heaven because, well, she was the most religious person I’d ever met so where else would she go? I suspect, looking back, that when she tossed me that bouquet she was passing something on to me, because after that I began to get a real education about what happens to people after they die, clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairgustience and all sorts of other things with no vocabulary in 1984, but they were going on all around me anyway!