I know now never to underestimate the power of a half bottle of chianti and a blow dryer— they were the gateway to an evening with Caryn styling my hair like Danny Partridge from Hell. The evening concluded with a coma-like sleep and a dream of driving a wheelchair to my deceased parents’ house for reasons that only make sense in dreams.
I was literally driving the wheelchair, like one would drive a car. I drove the wheelchair over the graveled driveway right up to the faded front door and I knocked. My Dad answered, he looked around 60— handsome, fit, agile, restless. He was wearing his work clothes— short-sleeved white shirt, jeans, black shoes, white socks. Per usual for Art De Mattei, he’d been working around the house all day.
“Hey Dad! I brought you your wheelchair.”
“Thanks, Son, just put it over there,” he motioned to the spot in front of the TV where he used to sit on a dining room chair and watch his programs.
I asked Art how he was doing and he said he was having a hell of a time fixing the bump in the kitchen floor. There was also a small hole there and he’d been working all day at trying to patch the hole and smooth out the bump, but he was having no luck. I looked at the damaged section of linoleum and thought it was interesting that he was trying to fill the hole in the floor with Plaster of Paris.
I left him in the kitchen and walked down the hall to my parents’ bedroom. I opened the door and saw my mom, ready for bed in one of her nightgowns, chasing her grandchildren around the bed, trying to get them to sleep. They were all very young, about two or three years of age. My mother looked lovely with short hair and a little night cream on her face. The children wanted no part of bedtime with Margie. My mother said, “Let’s go to sleep, children, Grandma’s tired.” And the children said, “No, no, no!” Then Margie said, “Then give me a kiss goodnight because I’m going to sleep.” And the children said, “No, no, no!” My mother looked at me as if to say, “you see if you can get them to settle down.” So I gathered up my little nieces and nephews, put them on the bed and said, “Are you going to let your Uncle Gary tuck you in and give you a kiss goodnight?” And they said, “No! Tell us the story of ‘The Great Mellow Yellow Schmellow Who Lived High Above the Valley Below in Snow’.” I said, “Uh, okay, you want to hear a story about a great mellow yellow schmellow who lived high above the valley below in snow? And they said, “Yes!” So I immediately launched into an improvisation of the story based on their title, creating all of the characters in the moment, doing high voices for the little people I imagined living below, and a deep voice for the great mellow yellow schmellow living above in snow. As I was telling the story I was having trouble with my falsetto for the little people below and couldn’t quite affect a tone I was happy with. I do remember it sounded hoarse and that my mother and the children were laughing at my scratchy voice. I should clarify that last remark— the children were giggling in earnest, my mother was laughing politely.
As I was continuing to struggle with the various voices I felt Caryn waking me up from my dream. She heard me talking in my sleep and was whispering to me softly, telling me everything is okay, that I was safe, she thought I was having a nightmare. I am not sure how the dream ended or what it meant. I appreciated how gently Caryn was trying to wake me, but I must admit I was a little sad not to stay there in my childhood home to finish the story of ‘The Great Mellow Yellow Schmellow Who Lived High Above The Valley Below In Snow,’ and to see if mom got the children to sleep, and if dad ever fixed the linoleum floor.