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Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley, or rather, Richmond, VA. It’s where I grew up. My childhood was a mixed bag of emotions filled with drama and some intrigue. It was enough to make my hair curl…quite literally!  A respite from that maelstrom was “Ms. Emma Gray’s” house. It stood just down the road, within walking distance of my family’s home. She was my mother’s best friend, her only bridesmaid, a confidant in all things. She had a daughter, Gray, who liked to dress up and play imaginary games.

One day, Ms. Emma Gray, ran strings through her entire house in celebration of Gray’s birthday. The neighborhood children each grabbed the end of a string and followed it under chairs, up and down stairs, all through the house. At the end of the string line was a present, a trinket, really. I don’t remember the gift, but I do remember how much fun the confusion was as we followed our strings.

I dreamed I was at that house the other night. On the front stone garden wall facing the house, I sat between the living (my mother) and the dead (my father and Ms. Emma Gray). We were part of a lively party, a large gathering of friends. Although we enjoyed seeing everyone have a good time, we were waiting. My daughter, who died suddenly in 1995, would be coming out of the house any minute.

We didn’t have long to wait. Out she came in all her glory! Caroline E. and I hugged for a long time and I told her how pleased I was that she came to the party. She said, “I didn’t really want to come. I have so much to do.”

I woke up feeling the most joyful I’ve been in years. I had a wonderful visit with my very busy and happy daughter. What more could a mother want for her child?

As this Mother’s Day approaches, I hope you will remember all the wonderful Ms. Emma Grays in your life and know that your mothers and children, living and dead, love you as they stay busy and happy. May you have precious dreams of your Manderley.

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