We are each a world dreaming of local events. I heard that somewhere. A lecture perhaps or a movie. Maybe it was something Bapa used to say in her broken English. Moving between Polish and English whenever the mood struck her. I used to lay awake in those hot summer nights before air conditioning with the window above my head flung wide open with the sound of crickets filling the spaces. Every once in a while some flying insect would bounce of the window screen with a soft dull thud to remind me that there was a world just the other side of the wall as alien to me as the moon. I’d dream of cricket armies marching to battle against the butterflies and fall asleep with the stars spinning slowly overhead.
One late July morning I came downstairs for breakfast and found no one else in the house. There was nothing cooking on the stove and my parent’s room was empty. I was alone. I began to tiptoe through the house looking for someone. Anyone really, as reality moved from novelty to concern. I was never alone in the house. I found my mom on the steps out front sitting alone in the shade of the huge willow that stood guardian in the yard. I called out her name in a soft voice and she simply patted the space beside her. An invitation to sit and join her.
“Bapa’s gone Andy.” She said, “She passed away last night, sitting on the porch swing. She was humming some song from the old country one minute and the next…” Mom stifled back a sob and just laid her head against mine. I knew people died. It happened all the time. The paper was full of stories abound men who were dying in the big war, but I never thought it was going to happen here, in this house. To Bapa.
“She was telling me about the farm she grew up on, and her horse Casimir and all the adventures they had.” I felt sorry for myself because now I’d never hear the end of that story. Then I felt guilty because mom was so sad and all I was concerned about was getting the rest of the story. I looked at her and she was so sad I got scared and began to cry too because I was afraid. I’ve never seen anyone this sad before. She reached around me and tugged me tight against her hip and we sat there, tears streaming down our faces, both of us scared about the future.
I thought about Casimir and Bupa and her delivering eggs milk and butter to town. The farm was gone because of Panzers, whatever they were. No more eggs or butter or milk. No more Casimir too I supposed. All those stories, all those memories and events and feelings too. All gone. Do dreams survive the dreamer? I wanted to ask Mom if she knew about Casimir, but I was afraid to ask. I was afraid to do anything except sit there. I waited for Mom to let go.
I closed my eyes and listened, searching out and eventually finding Bapa’s voice amidst all the clutter of my mind the way Dad would tune in the news on the radio finding the calm within the chaos. There she was. Beside her was Casimir, 12 hands high with a chestnut coat and a coal black mane. I saw Bapa now atop Casimir, her arms full of eggs and milk. I smiled thinking of my white haired grandmother atop that majestic horse. In my mind’s eye I saw here galloping across the countryside like Paul Revere tossing eggs and milk to the hungry peasants of old Poland while being chased by Panzers. In that moment on the porch being held by my mom, Bapa was as vibrant and as alive as anyone I knew.