This morning I had a remarkably coherent dream.
I was out to dinner with Ma & Larry. We had gone to a lovely little ethnic place in a Coptic Church, and were eating during the tail end of a service. This dream was fraught with subtextual meaning that can only be realized during a Frank Herbert novel; transmission and reception were identical, and volumes of understood knowledge were transmitted with each utterance and gesture. Ma was watching the parishoners of the church go about their rituals, which included a buffet filled with Greek food and large punch bowls for immersion baptisms. She was wistfully imparting to me that she missed the Coptic experiences of her youth.
From this I understood immediately that she grew up in a largely Lithuanian household with many of the practices of the old country, that the Coptic church was associated with being Lithuanian (and vice versa), and that her father, Bo, had to part from being a practicing Coptic, but carried the love and need of the church in his heart all of his days. All of this was carried with a look, filled with affection and sorrow for what had been and was no more.
We asked for to-go boxes, which I realized meant that I would have to help Larry deal with the dogs when we got home, and that Ma had arthritic wrists that made it impossible for her to draw the flag up its pole at the top of the hill outside their home. If only it could be raised, it seemed, weight of past loss would be lifted not merely from her heart, but from Bo’s soul in the hereafter. I cunningly devised a plan to distract Larry and the dogs while I created a device that would raise and lower the flag for her. In a burst of insight I arranged things so that the flag that was raised was both American and Lithuanian.
Pleasure lit Ma’s face; if Bo could see this from heaven, she said, he would laugh with delight. In that moment, years of vignettes showing her childhood spent in a Kansas Coptic church flashed all around us, with Bo taking part in dignity and happiness. I realized that, without foreknowledge or intention, I had done something Good, and evereyone was made happier thereby.
All of which is fine, except that my forebears did not come from Lithuania, the Coptic Church is of Egyptian origin, there is no flagpole at my mother’s house, Bo was a Marine in the WWII south Pacific and wouldn’t want any flag but American, and Ma doesn’t have arthritic wrists.
Which does not rob the dream of a sense of Meaning, Instruction, and Import.