Dream On, Dream On, The Answer’s At The End...
I have long admired the pensive and often mystical lyrics penned by George
Harrison. For this letter to you, I borrowed and modified the title to his
song 'Read On, Read On, The Answer's At The End.' Today, we're going
to discuss dreams.
My mother, your Oma, was convinced that God spoke to her via her dreams and
that sometimes He granted her advance warning of what was to come.
This would allow Oma to prepare herself for the coming event or to pray to
God to ameliorate any future tragedy.
One night in the late 1950s, Oma dreamt that she was on one side of a long,
wide, water-filled ditch. My father, your Opa, was on the other side.
There was a huge fire burning on my father’s side of the ditch. Panicked,
he called out to her, begging her to help him escape the flames. In
dreams, everything is possible. Oma was able, somehow, to reach out
over the expanse of water, take his hand and pull him to safety.
At the time, Opa worked at the Maple Leaf Milling Company in Port Colborne,
Ontario. Sometime after Oma’s dream, I can’t honestly say if it was a matter
of days, weeks or even months, my father was at work at the mill. He
normally would have stayed at his post, on one of the upper floors of the
mill, until his shift ended at 8:00PM, but at about 7:55PM, he had an overwhelming
need to ‘punch out’ and get out of the building. He fought the urge,
but when it persisted, he made his way downstairs to the punch clock which
was situated just inside one of the exits from the building.
You have to understand the significance of Opa’s actions. He was incapable
of cheating anyone out of as little as a penny. He took every responsibility
seriously. If his shift ended at 8:00PM, he would work until the very
last minute. Punching out early would be theft in my father’s eyes
and he would never steal anything from anyone, not even five minutes of time.
There were only a few people in the mill at that time, on that day.
My father had no particular sense of foreboding, or any premonition that
something might happen at the mill. He just felt compelled to punch
out and then leave the building. He didn’t know why. As he inserted
his punch card into the time clock, there was a huge explosion and a ‘whoosh’
as all the flour dust in the mill ignited. That was followed immediately
by raining glass and other debris and then a raging fire. My father
was the last person to leave the building. Everyone else in the mill
either perished in the fire or were injured and disfigured when they leaped,
aflame, from upper stories of the building.
My father made it home, safe and sound. The others weren’t so fortunate.
What does this mean? In Oma’s eyes, her dream was a warning.
It allowed her to pray for Opa’s safety. Those prayers, she believed,
ultimately protected him from harm.
On November 12, 2001, I awoke at 7:00AM or so with the memory of a very troubling
dream. I reflected on it a bit before I got ready to go to the office,
wondering what it meant, and what, if anything, I should do about it.
I dreamt that you and I were walking down a street. There were two-story
buildings, mostly residential, on both sides of the street. There were
lots of trees, just what one might expect in an older neighbourhood in a
large city. I don’t know which direction we were facing, but when I
glanced off to our right, past the houses and other buildings, I could see
water. On the other side of the body of water, I could see a city skyline.
To our left, past the buildings on the other side of the street, I could
see water too. It was evident that we were on a peninsula of some kind,
near an airport and a large city.
As we walked along the street, I sensed something was amiss. I looked
up. Coming towards us, at an altitude consistent with just having taken
off from an airport, I saw a large, commercial airliner. As I watched,
the nose of the aircraft skewed to its left and the aircraft continued forward,
towards us, in that unnatural position. I don’t remember now if there
was an explosion, or any visible fire that preceded what happened next, but
the aircraft suddenly fell from the sky and landed on the ground, plowing
through homes and other structures that were in its path. The buildings
splintered as the aircraft slid through them. The plane started to
break up and the conflagration that resulted soon covered what appeared to
be an area approximately the size of a city block. Frightened, I grabbed
your hand and we ran away from the mayhem. Then I woke.
I got to work at about 8:20AM that morning. I debated whether
to tell anyone about my dream. I often talk about my dreams because
they are incredibly realistic and frankly, often entertaining. I think
of my dreams as interesting, not as portents of things to come. On
November 12, 2001, I decided against telling anyone of my dream. The
terrorist hijackings of September 11, 2001 were still fresh in everyone’s
minds. I thought that my subconscious mind might still be dealing with
the horror of the hijacked aircraft crashing into the Pentagon and the twin
towers of the World Trade Center.
As I do every morning, I connected to the internet to read my email and to
browse through the daily news via links on the Drudge Report and World Net
By approximately 10:00AM, the internet was awash with reports of the crash
of American Airlines, flight 587. It had taken off from John F. Kennedy
International Airport in New York at approximately 9:13AM and at 9:17 AM
it crashed into an older neighbourhood in the New York borough of Queens.
Much of what happened to Flight 587 eerily reflects the events in my dream.
I won’t go into a lot of detail here about the similarities. The crash
information is a matter of public record and is available on the internet.
For several days after the crash, I felt guilty, like I should have reported
the dream to someone. Perhaps some lives could have been saved.
But reported to whom? Who would have listened? How could anyone
know which plane, at which airport, in which country to focus on? Why
would anyone believe that a dream, in advance of a later occurrence, would
have any connection to the real event?
And how do I know that the dream was an omen, a premonition?
I don’t. I have mentally filed the tragic events of that day, and the
dream that preceded them, as yet more strange co-incidences.
In your life, Zachary, there will be many strange co-incidences. Someday,
perhaps, we will discover that there is some completely natural, scientifically
explainable connection between what is ‘real’ and what is in the realm of
the paranormal. Or, more likely, we will continue to be baffled about
much of what goes on around us, lost in a world we don’t understand, frustrated
by things we can’t change, saddened by pain, suffering, tragedy.
In the meantime, what can we do?
“Dream on, dream on, the answer’s at the end.”
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