Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Your old men will dream dreams

Comer watched me pull the book out of the cardboard protector, and said, "Tada!"
I held it up for him. His face smiled back at him from the cover, his name emblazoned across the bottom.
"Well would you look at that?" he said, taking it reverently in his hands.
He looked at the cover several minutes. Then he slowly began leafing through his book. I was silent, letting him enjoy these first few moments of realizing he was now a published author. His poetry would not die with him.
"Isn't this something," he said, shaking his head, and blowing his nose.
"Shall we bring it to show Evelyn?" I asked.
"Oh she won't know what it is," he said. Evelyn, his wife of over sixty years, has Alzheimers, and was slowly losing her memory and her language. The little speech she had was becoming almost always just echoes of what others said to her.
"I think she will," I said, "May I go with you? Can we go now?"
"Sure we can," he said, gathering his cane, "But first, I wrote a poem last night. What do you think of it?"
He handed me a sheet with several verses. Comer had said last week that he could no longer write. The verses that used to flood his mind no longer came to him, he said.

I read it happily. It was beautiful.
"You haven't lost your touch, Comer. This will be book 2."
"The sequel," he said smiling.
"But name them," I said. His poems in his book were mostly unnamed, "It helps the reader. Think about the main point of what you are trying to say, and come up with a name."
"I'll call this one Shadows," he said.

Comer led the way to the Memory Care section downstairs. On the way, we passed by the receptionist.
Comer silently went to her, and handed her his book.
"Comer! You write poetry? You never let on!" she said, "I got to read one."
Comer and I stood quietly as she read a poem.
"That is wonderful ," she said, returning his book.
We headed to the elevator, where a nurse's aide stepped out.
Comer silently handed her his book.
"What's this? You write poetry!? So how come you never go with me to poetry time on Wednesday! You gotta come and read to us from your book!"
"Comer," I admonished, "You definitely need to go."
"Ok," he said, "We're going to go show this to Mama," he told the aide, "She won't know what it is, of course."
"I think she will," I said.

We found Evelyn in her room, lying in bed, covered with a bright quilt. She opened her eyes as we entered.
"We have a surprise for you, Evelyn," I said.
She lifted her hands and took the book from me, then smiled broadly.
"Comer Hawkins!" she read.
"Your husband wrote this book," I told her.
Her smile stretched across years, and she said, "Well now, isn't that something!?"
"And look," I said , flipping it over to the back, to the photo of her with Comer.
"Oh my!" said Evelyn. She opened the book and began to turn the pages. Comer watched her.
"Look at this," I said, as she opened to the dedication page, "Read it, Evelyn."
"She can't read," said Comer softly.
Evelyn put her fingers under the words and read each carefully, a bit haltingly, out loud:
"To my wife, who is the wind in my sails and the love of my life."
"Who is he talking about?" I asked her.
She smiled radiantly, "Me!"
"What do you think?"
"I am so proud of my husband," she said, looking at Comer, who was wiping his eyes.

As I drove home, I felt a sense of deep gratification. My mom told me on my last visit home that she realized what I was. I had tilted my head, and wondered what she could mean.
"You are a dream facilitator," she said.
I don't think anyone has ever told me anything that made me understand, or be happier with myself more. I wanted to be a great artist, but I am only good. I wanted to be a great writer, but life interfered and the need to raise children, and send them successfully on their own roads, after their own dreams. And then, I wanted to be a great Christian, but somehow end up tripping and stumbling despite my desire each day to do better.  But my mom made me realize that some of the happiest moments in my life have been when I have had a part in helping someone realize a dream.

It's funny that it took half a century for me to see that this was a gift from God that I never really knew was there, nor really of any value. Joseph of the Bible was a dreamer. His brothers scoffed at his dreams and what they represented. In the end, they threw him in a pit, and left him for dead because of his dreams. And then Joseph went on to interpret the king's dream, and was released from prison, and given authority over all the land. And his understanding of dreams saved his nation. God clearly doesn't treat dreams lightly. I think God is saying, "Pay attention to dreams. They matter to me."
I smiled as I drove home, remembering Comer clutching his book. Dreams matter to me, too.

Genesis 37: 19-20
19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

Joel 2: 27-29

27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
   that I am the LORD your God,
   and that there is no other;
never again will my people be shamed.
 28 “And afterward,
   I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
   your old men will dream dreams


  1. This post brought tears to my eyes. Just beautiful! Thanks so much for allowing us to peek into the lives of your friends.

  2. Thankyou Melanie. So many people have so many hidden rich lives. It is glorious to find that in unexpected places.