MY BIRTHDAY DREAM
By Lois Sockol
It is the morning of my 86th birthday, and I open my eyes to a shower of sunshine. ‘Tis early. No need to rise yet. Sinking still deeper into my pillow, I close my eyes. I’m walking in a forest, down a path awash in light. Ahead of me is a giant oak. It is not until I approach that I notice that it’s bowed crown is draped in unseasonably yellowed leaves. Deep, letter-like gashes mark its trunk R-O-N. I wrap my arms around its bole and feel it pulsing.
Circling the venerable oak are four clusters of pines. At the center of each is a strong regal twosome overlooking less mature pines. Letters are etched into the base of each. I know their names. It is a heartwarming, comforting site, the four clusters jointly surrounding, guarding the elderly oak.
I hug each before I continue, almost skippingly, down the path. A bit further, to my right, stands an arch of trees reminiscent of a Temple. A powerful stream of light flows my way. More tree clusters, all shapes and manner, surround me. I peer more closely, stroking each trunk. Tall and firm stand my friends, a lifetime of playmates, companions, and soulmates.
Suddenly, a clearing appears. A large lake, its translucent water shimmering before me. I peer into its silvery blue surface. From its depth float figures, reaching almost to its surface. My mother rises, her large blue eyes shining, her laughter bubbling up. Beside her, his strong arm about her shoulders, my father waves to me with his free hand. He, too, is laughing. But how can that be? “No, no wait, don’t go,” I cry, my eyes locked to the spot as my parents sink back into the depths. Almost immediately, my dear sister Ellen appears, taken from me too soon, before I had a chance to tell how much I loved her. She , too, now laughs and reaches out to me. I lean forward to take her disappearing hand.
Within a breath, everything disappears. I lose everything–my family, my friends, the forest, the lake, all gone.
I pull myself up from the floor where I lay next to my bed. Unhurt, just a bit achy. Why, why had my mind concocted such a fantasy? What is my subconscious trying to tell me? That surely we would meet again? That there is time to change the things I want to change?
The sound of the phone cuts through my thoughts. Both phones, my cell and land line, calling to me simultaneously.
“Happy Birthday, Mom. We love you.” Repeated again. “Happy Birthday, Mom, we love you.”
All through the day, a bouquet of calls from grandchildren and sons. And I embrace them all.
Before night falls, I drive to my favorite walking spot, Cutler Park, where a forest of trees surrounds a large fresh water lake. I smile. 86, like any age, new beginnings, new ending, choices.
Lois says, “I’ve been blessed with a marriage of 65 years. We raised four boys we are proud of and enjoy the reward of 9 grandchildren. Professionally, I taught public school for 25 years, published an instructional manual to aid teachers in teaching children who are high risk for learning to read, and conducted seminars on the teaching of reading. I have been active in my town of Needham as a Library Trustee and a Town Meeting member for 36 years. And now, I have the joy of being a member of BOLLI!