There are few things worse than listening to someone talk about their dreams; unless you are a soothsayer, a Pharaoh, or, perhaps, chatting with your children as they relate their anxieties.
A few days ago, I had a strange dream – I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was ‘vivid’ – suffice to say, the next day I couldn’t tell whether it was real or not.
Here’s what has been happening…
Over the holidays my family gathered in Doncaster; it has been an amazing week, with more Kershes in one household than at any time since the 1980’s.
Part of our gathering involved looking through old photos.
I have an album full of black and white photos; starting with my siblings when they were young, going-back in time to the 40’s and 50’s when my parents were children and further back to their parents’ childhoods.
Most of the pictures were of family in Glasgow or Manchester. Some taken in the countryside – perhaps Troon or Ayr, others at celebrations – Passover or Chanukah.
It is funny how much of the past is crystallised in these images. There is even one of my mum, with a man stepping-out in the background, a sort of homage to Henri Cartier Bresson.
What led to my dream however was the frustration at our inability to name, place or identify so many of the people. Most have now died; their children or grandchildren are likely in later life. The majority now lost to the past. Nameless. Voiceless.
And it is this link between the present and the past that captures my imagination. Specifically connecting with my job. Old people, still young.
I love it when patients come to my clinic with their sons and daughters, grandchildren and occasionally great-grandchildren; seeing the generational reflections.
For those of us whose families have been wrenched apart by geography, migration, education and profession, who live in communities that are made-up of friends and acquaintances rather than people who knew you when you were a tot, before you cut your first tooth, changed your name or learned to drive, it is not the same.
Without family around you, your connection to the past is different – less concrete.
And so, to the dream.
I dreamed that I had another photo album; only in this one, I had written-down the names of all my relations – with my mum and dad before they died; fitting each image into a yesteryear family tree; supporting who I am today – not a fish out of water.
There was no album.
This was perhaps one of those things I had wished I had done when I was younger but never got around to;
Some people think this is silly – looking back on the past; translating facial features, interests or behaviours to those who have gone before, preferring instead to remain in the present, or, prepare for the future.
For me, I can’t resist. One foot in the present, the other in yesterday.