The first dream came shortly after my grandfather’s death in 2003.
I’ve had dreams before, but few were as sharp, or lingered with me long after I woke up, as the one of my Grandpa Gibson.
I was sitting in his chair at our house, and he was standing in front of me. He wanted to sit down, and I was telling him that he didn’t need to stay anymore – that we, I, would protect Grandma Gibson.
I continued to have dreams of him as the years passed. I dreamt that he and my Grandmother Shrimplin were playing cards. I dreamt that he came and was holding Momma Kitty. And I reassured him again that everyone was fine.
Yet he wouldn’t go.
He did pass on to another place. I felt it when he died. But he refused, with that stubborn will of his, to leave completely.
My grandfather was a great man. His will was iron, and he performed a job he hated for years and years because it was expected of him. He was a teacher, but at heart he was a farmer.
He grew up in a time when farming wasn’t profitable and there weren’t many ways to support a family – a wife and three girls, whom he raised to be as stubborn, determined and intelligent as he was.
When my father bought some farmland just south of Deerfield, Kan., he asked Grandpa if he would live in the house with Grandma and farm the land.
As far as I know, those were the happiest years of Grandpa’s life.
So when he wasn’t leaving, and going wherever it is he was supposed to go, I knew it was because he was still trying to protect someone he cared about.
I just didn’t know it was me.
My Grandma Shrimplin visited me regularly, so I thought nothing of it when I dreamed of Grandpa. She told me when my Grandma Gibson was going to have a heart attack, and she was in my dream of Grandpa. I don’t know what card game they were playing, but they were having fun while they waited. Grandma Shrimplin wouldn’t leave because of different reasons than Grandpa Gibson.
Recently I started my way into a profession I love. I’m poorer than hell, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
I started attending the College Avenue United Methodist Church, and was startled to find I actually enjoy it. I don’t go every Sunday, but I go most of the time and I always feel good when I leave.
I have new friends and feel like I know what I am doing for the first time in a long time.
Then I had the final dream.
Grandpa was telling me he had to go, that he loved me, but I couldn’t go with him and he wouldn’t be back.
I woke up crying. I felt abandoned, and despite the fact that Grandma Shrimplin came again, I felt like I had done something wrong.
It was only last week I realized that he had been staying to protect me.
I thought he was worried about my Grandma Gibson, but he knew she was being well cared for by my Aunt Mary.
He was worried about me, and waiting until I got my life on track. He was waiting until I was doing what I was meant to do.
I’m happy for him and relieved that he finally felt able to let go.
So goodbye, Grandpa. This column was for you.
Lola Shrimplin is a senior in pre-journalism. Please send your comments to email@example.com.