A Singular Woman

Dreams are funny things.

This particular blog is clearly for my own posterity.

It's not too surprising that I would have dreamt about my mom last night after having blogged herehere and here regarding the horrible disease that ended her life.

I'm sure a Jungian dream analyst would have a field day with the one I had last night.  Personally, I believe that dreams are a way that the body uses to help diffuse internal stress.  I haven't been particularly stressed as of late, but I have been thinking a lot about mom.

Panagiota Koumoutsakou 1931 - 1999.

She was a singular woman.  Five days after her death, my brother wrote a beautiful and moving article entitled, "In Loving Memory of a Singular Woman".  In the piece, he describes his instantaneous catapult at 36 years of age, from boy to man as he watched mom being lowered into the ground.

Mom was the most affectionate woman on the planet.  You're probably thinking, 'sure she was.  Everyone says that about their own nurturing mother'.  Maybe, but I still hold strongly to that belief.  It wasn't that she was just affectionate with her own family and friends, she would also be that way with people she had just met if she was deeply moved by them.  And she was easily and deeply moved.  However, she wasn't the type of hugger who hugged everyone.  No way.  She was authentic and extremely discriminative as well.  When she hugged a person, it was sincere, genuine and full of the most imaginable love possible, whether she was hugging me or someone she had just met that day.  There was nothing phony about mom.

Mom was also a defender of the underdog.  Considering she had a disease that I consider to be the underdog of underdog diseases, when it came to others, she was solidly in the corners of underdogs, often making enormous sacrifices in order that they succeed.

She was semi-comatose during the last 2 weeks of her life.  I gave her 24/7 basic care during those 2 weeks.  My heart ripped in two when I knew I could no longer stay and care for her because of the family and work responsibilities I had on the other side of the country at that time.

The plane ride back home was gut wrenching.  The consolation factor was that my brother Peter had just flown in from California to help out as I left.

The day after my plane had landed back home, the phone rang.

"Mom's breathing is really weird", Peter told me.

"That's the beginning of the end Pete.  Mom will likely be gone in a few hours.  Could you put the phone to her ear for me?"

Peter placed the phone to mom's ear.

"Mom, I love you so much.  I'm so lucky that you were my mom.  I couldn't have had a better mother.  Someday we'll all get together and have a big party".

When I spoke into the phone, I knew I was speaking to someone who was completely comatose and possibly brain dead.

Peter returned to the phone.  "What did you say to her?" he asked me.

"Why?"

"Tears started running down her cheeks after whatever it is that you said to her", he replied.

Interesting.  I had assumed she was brain dead.  Perhaps she did hear me.

Two hours later mom died.

Last night, thirteen years later, I had the most crystal clear dream of mom I had ever had of her.

In the dream, I was simultaneously a teenager and my present age.  Friends from my teenage years and I arrived at this palatial building.  It was a Greek Orthodox Church (my mother's faith), and it was the most enormous and elegantly gold decorated church I had ever seen.  My friends and I were checking out the place as we walked down the isles and then went upstairs into a balcony-like sitting area.  I started walking down the stairs on my own and I saw a family friend and her daughter.  They were talking to someone who was not yet in my field of vision.  As I proceeded to go over and greet the family friend, I saw who she was talking to.  It was my mom!

This is where the dream became crystal clear.  Mom was around 50 (approximately my age now).  She looked fantastic!  She was dressed in a blue blazer and skirt and her grey hair was permed with curls.  I was overjoyed.  It all felt so real.

I spoke to her, "Are you still alive?  I can't believe you're still alive!  Is this just a dream, or is this really real?!"  I was in a state of bliss.

Mom just smiled at me.  She didn't speak.  Not because of the loss of speech that befell her due to her disease of ALS over a decade before, but she didn't speak because she was just smiling from ear to ear.  Her smiling silence indicated to me that I wasn't suppose to know or understand the mystery of my queries.

I proceeded to hug her and received back from her, that all-too-familiar loving hug.  This time her hug was also drenched in peace.  The bliss exponentiated.

Instead of lingering in the moment of that bliss, I immediately woke myself up while in the dream to see if I was really dreaming or if my experience was actually real.

Life is about choices.  The glass-half-empty part of me woke up to disappointment and an intense feeling of longing and missing.  The glass-half-full part of me felt grateful for this dream and saw it as a gift about an incredible, singular woman.

Rest in peace mom.