By the time you read this my older brother Michael will be married for the second time of his life.Â A do-over if you will.
Like me, my brother gave up on marrying the right person, or the idea of falling in love with a soul mate, back in 1978, when the father we loved and admired closed his eyes, inhaled deeply and left us to the great unknown.
I lost all faith in everything.
He shut down and threw himself into school.
Our father had so many big dreams for us:Â my brother should go to college in San Francisco and become an attorney, because he could argue the bark off a tree; while I should go to college closer to home and get a degree in journalism, because a daughter should live closer to her parents where they can keep a watchful eye on her, and my father knew no one could be more annoying than me when I want answers, so I would make a perfect journalist.
Or so that was the original dream plan.
After our father died, my brother and I said a resounding fuck no to that.
I turned my attention to dating and always having a boyfriend – but not the right guy.
My brother went to work in construction to pay his way through college (which would have killed my father right there because he wanted my brother to work with is mind, not his back) and he stopped telling the girlfriend we adored, that he loved her. Needless to say, their relationship came to a sad end with my mother and I begging my brother to change his mind.
You can really build a strong cement barricade against your dreams when in pain.
My brother and I went on to succeed and fail at college (he succeeded – I failed) and succeed and fail at relationships – then marriages. He stayed working in construction and buried the budding attorney inside him. I planned weddings for brides I wanted to slap silly, then migrated to working in banking, where every company I worked for died – just like my father.
I was like the kryptonite to banking.
We went on to have great kids, tutor homework, volunteer in our communities, stand witness to our mother’s 2nd marriage, go back to school, enjoy great friends, buy and sell homes, and raise all manner of pets – we were responsible adults going through life in a slumber – never awakening fully to our potential.
Never completely becoming the people our father knew we could be.
Growing up he was keenly aware of our natural abilities and who we were as budding adults in his home. He believed in our mother’s ability to raise Cain and let all Irish hell loose to push us to do well in school, and to encourage us in our passions of camping, boy scouts, hiking, ballet, singing, music, writing, reading and play.
Our parents were our dream warriors, our champion of childhood dreams. Although my father said it in more of a, “You are going to college young lady!” and “Son, just go to college dammit!” way.Â We understood what he was really saying.
My parents would have worked themselves to death to ensure we went to college, married well, and lived our dreams.Â In a way our father did, but we did not honor his dream crusade. We were so used to our parents unwavering belief in what we could become, that when everything changed on that day in 1978, we lost our way on the path to our dreams.
Until we came to that great fork in the dream trail: we found ourselves divorced in our 40s.
There is nothing like divorce to strip you of all your presumptions, slap you silly and send you a wake up call to change your life. Being of Irish decent, it seems that life lessons take us a bit longer to learn. We tend to be just a wee bit hard-headed and stubborn.Â What dreams?Â Did I have dreams?
In the end we lost 30 years of dream time.
30 Y E A R S.
If you won’t live the life of your dreams, the universe will move you along anyway, and before you know it you will wake up one day at the age of 50 wondering what the hell happened.
What happened is you stopped believing in your dream.
What happened is you stopped trying.
What happened is you stopped taking chances.
What happened is you went for the easy way out.
Do any of these ring true for you?
Don’t despair if you see yourself in the words written here.Â My brother and I are living proof all is not lost.Â If you open yourself to the idea you can resurrect a lost dream, then anything is possible. Life can be a do-over anytime. It doesn’t matter if you are age 28 or 68. You can begin the journey back to your right dream trail and continue down the path to where you were meant to be.
It’s never too late. It’s just a question of how badly you want it.
My brother found his great love in his mid 50s, something he hadn’t planned, but wanted. He took a chance on finding the right woman. He often tells me that she is the girl he should have met when he was 18. “She’s perfect for me,” he says. And if you know well-educated, conservative, male construction types (who should be lawyers) then you know that’s not an easy statement for him to make.
As I watched him promise the rest of his life to her, I suddenly noticed the boy who once had dreams.Â I’d forgotten what Peter Pan looked like in my brother’s face, and tears began to flow down my cheeks.Â It felt like we were coming home. “Wendy,’ Peter Pan continued in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist, ‘Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”
As I went from table to table visiting with relatives, many were curious about all the writing I’ve been doing, “What is it you are doing again?Â Our kids keep talking about you and your writing.Â Didn’t you used to do this all the time as a kid?”
When I answered their questions they just nodded like they knew.
It’s like they too have been waiting for those Hughes children they loved, with the father who had big dreams for them, to come back from Never-Neverland and be who they were meant to be.
To dream is an awfully big adventure.
Are you coming?
Now where’s my pixie dust . . .
Catherine’s dream is to be a motivator and published writer. She is testing her theories on motivation with this blog and the seven other women who have volunteered to be a part of her dream project. Catherine also writes about her life as a mom at the blog A Week In The Life Of A Redhead. She would also like to be invited to speak at TED as the next Erma Bombeck. Catherine posts on Monday mornings.
Catherine Hughes is the founder, content director and editor-at-large of 8WomenDream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead, but don’t hold that against her.
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