Monday, December 10, 2007

dreams of the white cat

Before we left for my grandparents' house over Thanksgiving, I had a strange dream: in one car was myself, my father, and my grandfather, who was driving, and was behaving much like a confused Alzheimer's patient might drive--uncertain, confused, befuddled. We were driving around a beautiful lake, one amidst hills and seclusion. It wasn't my grandparents' lake--they live with farms so close, with flattened land. At the bottom of a rise, my grandfather looked in his rearview mirror and saw the rest of the family--my aunt and uncle, my mother, my husband, etc. They were in an RV, and my grandfather stomped on the break in shock, causing the RV to rear end us. We all got out, to collect ourselves, make sure we were OK, and my grandfather turned into a cat--a fluffy, pure white cat. He didn't speak, but I knew what he was thinking, as he sniffed the loam. He wouldn't get back into the car, unless everyone was quiet. My grandmother cooed, wanted to speak to her husband, but I was haughty, said we could all get back in the car, but we had to be quiet. So we did, my grandfather the white cat folded in my arms.

When we arrived in Michigan, we discovered the cat my grandparents had adopted was the replica of the cat in my dream. I must note: I'd never seen this cat before, only heard vague stories about it. It could have easily been a tabby, a black and white cat. How often do you see cats, pure white? Fluffy too.

My mother told me a student of hers let her know that in Hmong tradition, if someone dreams of a cat (or tiger, etc.), it means someone in the family will die.

And I pointed out to my father--of course my grandfather became a cat in my dream. He was in the nursing home then, and the cat became my grandmother's only companion.

I don't always put much stock in dreams, save the fodder I can use in poetry and whatnot, but this dream seems a little stranger than others. The white cat, the passing on of my grandfather.

And cultures all have their own way of approaching death, of grieving. We follow a box around, watch it descend into the earth. My grandfather is ashes now, and that's OK too. We can carry him to say good-bye.


chelsea said...

in many cultures (especially some communities in italy), white is the color of funerals.

in buddist cultures, cremation is supposed to allow easy and peaceful passage for the soul, since there is no body to be tied to. it is supposed to help the soul to continue into better forms.

i'm eager to teach you about some of the things i've learned about mexican culture and their traditions and symbols, especially surrounding death.

Anonymous said...

in my dream a massive white cat attacked me on my back and in the same dream my uncle randy who passed away about a year ago came to me and told me that everybody has a time to go and that was his time i wonder if there is any signifigance to this