8: Dreams of Yesterday

8: Dreams of Yesterday

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Dreams of Yesterday

Timing in life is everything.

~Leonard Maltin

Over the years, I have met many people through my family, neighbors, church, and various workplaces. Some I have been lucky to keep in touch with or run into once in a while. Many, like Dorothy, a former boss, I haven’t seen in years. That is why I was totally surprised to dream about working for her.

She had been one of my supervisors when I was a young administrative secretary working in our local school district. A vivacious, no-nonsense executive, she was highly organized and managed a department of twenty-six employees for a large company. Even though she had a husband and several children, she also volunteered her time as the president of the district school improvement team. The district team was comprised of two parent volunteers and the principal from each school. They met once a month with the superintendent at an evening meeting. As her secretary, it was my responsibility to reserve the boardroom, schedule the set-up of tables, chairs and equipment, and record the minutes.

The officers of this team also attended a second night meeting to discuss and plan the next month’s agenda. Most of them worked a full-time job, too, so it was not unusual for each of us to bring something to eat while we worked. For Dorothy, it involved quite a few more hours because she personally visited many of the schools and was frequently invited to attend special school assemblies and events. But she loved students and education, and often insisted, “This is a fun job to me.”

Dorothy and I looked forward to the monthly meetings. She would always try to present an interesting and informative program highlighting students, teachers, curriculum, and administrators. She gave me the responsibility of selecting a group of students to perform or present their talents in music, art, drama, and academics. At the end of the workday, we always felt fortunate to work with so many talented people. Even though Dorothy was my supervisor, she had also been a mentor and a friend.

In my dream, she stood down the hall from my cubicle quietly observing me. I was busy taking directions and answering questions from my main boss, who was meticulous and a workaholic. After she left and went back to her office, Dorothy came to my desk and whispered in my ear, “Bravo. If you learn to work for that person successfully, you will be able to work for anyone on the planet.”

I must admit that, after all these years, she was absolutely right. Several nights later, I dreamed about Dorothy again.

This time, we were at one of our meetings where a high school song-and-dance group of about sixteen students performed. They were a favorite of everyone in the community. After a long meeting about graduation requirements, Dorothy and several of the parents invited me to meet them at a local restaurant for pie and conversation. We had such a good time. Everything was in vivid detail and seemed so real, even after I woke up.

As I wondered why I kept dreaming about a former boss whom I hadn’t seen in fourteen years, I got ready to go grocery shopping with my husband. When he drove our car into an open parking space, I looked over and could not believe my eyes. In the car next to me, Dorothy was backing out. Without thinking, I quickly opened my door, ran to the back of our car, and put up my hand for her to stop. Rolling down the driver’s side window, Dorothy asked, “What did I do wrong?”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. Do you remember the secretary you had many years ago as the president of the school improvement team?”

Looking at me closely, she smiled in recognition and said, “I do remember you because you were one of my best secretaries.”

Leaning into her car window, I gave her a little hug and told her, “And you were one of my best bosses.”

We reminisced a few minutes until a truck pulled up behind her and honked. Then we held hands and reluctantly said goodbye. Going into the grocery store, I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that I had just seen Dorothy again after all these years. Even though she looked the same, I rationalized that if I hadn’t dreamed about her, I might have missed her.

I didn’t dream or think about Dorothy again until a couple of months later. In the Sunday paper, I was shocked to read in the obituaries that Dorothy had died. It didn’t seem possible. When I had seen her, she was in good spirits and didn’t look sick.

At her funeral, the minister told us that Dorothy and her family had known for a while she was ill. To celebrate her illustrious life, the family held an unforgettable service. On a big screen they shared many cherished pictures of her as a child, teenager, bride, young mother, grandmother, and friend to hundreds in our community. We laughed at the funny stories told about her, and we sang her favorite songs as a child and as an adult. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer before leaving, tears of gratitude blurred my vision because I now knew in my heart that heaven had arranged our final farewell in that parking lot.

~Brenda Cathcart-Kloke

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