I had a very strange dream last night as I was in and out of this world waiting for sleep to come to me. In fact is more like a long forgotten memory than a dream.
My dream-memory went like this: I am a young child being held over a railing next to a waterfall and I am absolutely terrified of falling over into the chasm below. I know we’re somewhere in Wales as we spent many holidays there during my childhood but I don’t know exactly where. Logic tells me that we’re probably somewhere in Snowdonia hiking because I remember that to get to this waterfall we’ve had to climb so many steps during a day of hiking.
My little legs are tired and I’m scared of the deafening rush of the water hitting the rocks and pool below. My Granddad lifts me high onto the railing so that I can look, but he decides to a play trick on me like adults do with young children and pretends to let me go. I’m perfectly safe but the adults are laughing because I’m distraught. Someone takes a picture and everyone cuddles me and tells me to stop being such a wuss, it’s only water and I’m perfectly fine.
I’m still really, really scared. I can remember the smell of waterfall, the sound of it rushing and the feel of the memory so vividly. In fact, I have a thing about smells and their familiarity – I’ve felt that deja vu sense of smell many times before and I could sense it last night.
I was so taken aback by this dream-memory that I rummaged through our photos and found this one of me being held. As an adult myself I know that my Granddad wouldn’t have ever let me fall but it’s the pure fear from my childhood that still remains to this day and you can see it on my face in the photo.
I was actually really close to my Granddad who has unfortunately passed now. In our family photos there are quite a few of us together when I was a little girl like two peas in a pod. I remember that he always encouraged me in whatever I put my hand to. As an artistic child who loved to draw I could guarantee that every Christmas that I would receive a fresh Crayola selection box full of new felt tips, coloured pencils and oil pastels from my Grandparents.
I even have found memories of sitting in my Grandparents bungalow drawing on a huge roll of paper that my Granddad had gotten from somewhere especially for me to use, I can still recall trying to carefully rip off pieces to draw on. When he reached retirement he even hand-built me a gypsy-style caravan for me to play in in my back garden – he was an awesome man.
It’s these dream-memories that sometimes haunt us in life, in the past I have seen them as my subconscious mocking me but now I think that it is a sign of getting older. I don’t feel like I’m heading towards twenty-five, in fact I still feel like I’m twenty at a push – but my memories prove me otherwise. When I see old friends we reminisce over coffee or cocktails a lot more than we used to and when I see my friend’s children I comment on how they’ve grown – some of them are even in school.
Last night proves to me that family is an important factor in our lives, and so are our memories. I found this photo of me and my Dad taken a couple of years after the first one because I was only three when my Granddad held me over that railing – I think I’m about five or six in this one. I think my Dad learnt from last time not to hold me over but I still remember feeling very scared and I think I only went to the railing just to have this photo taken and then scarpered off as my Dad gave me a cuddle to calm me down.
Looking at these photos have taught me a lesson I didn’t realise until this afternoon. The second time I go to this railing I’m not screaming or crying, I’m just standing there gritting my teeth and bearing it even though I still don’t like the waterfall.
I think that sometimes we go through fearful situations and survive them, but we remain stronger on the other side. It took bravery for me to stand there with my Dad as even before I was lifted and threw a fit as a toddler I was scared – but I held strong the next time.
I miss my Granddad sometimes as you do for someone who left your life a very long time ago. Times like these I wander if he would be proud of me for how I’ve chosen to live my life. However, I know that regardless he would be encouraging me in my career and pushing me to work hard – because that’s what Grandparents do. They spoil you rotten and love you to bits no matter what.