Theresa’s grandfather was a Buddhist monk. He would leave the convent from time to time, seeking further isolation in the caves in Viet Nam. Theresa would go into the caves during her grandfather’s sojourns to take him food and water. They would talk about the dreams he had while in the caves. Theresa’s mother told Theresa not to give any credit to her grandfather’s dreams, saying they were just the ramblings of a man who could remember his dreams. The most important dream that her grandfather had pertaining to Theresa’s life was… her entire life. He told Theresa that she would marry a Vietnamese man and have four children. He said she would become a widow and then marry a foreigner. He didn’t know if that man would be Japanese or Chinese or what, but he would definitely be foreign. And finally, the year Theresa would be sixty, she would get sick and float over bodies and bodies of water, half dead and half alive.
Theresa was my grandfather’s third wife. I met her only a couple of times. She told my mother the stories of her grandfather and the fortune he told. Theresa did outlive her first husband. My grandfather was an American with a mostly mixed western European heritage. My grandfather worked for the government doing agricultural advising for foreign countries. My mother, who, like me, is not prone to exaggeration, now says that my grandfather was in the CIA, but I didn’t hear that until years after he had died. Whatever my grandfather’s actual title, he did work in Africa and Asia for almost all of his working life and that was how he met Theresa. Theresa went to Burma when she was fifty-nine years old so that my grandfather, George, could work deep in the country. Theresa was worried about going because of her grandfathers vision, but she consented to the work assignment anyway. She developed pneumonia while she was there. Theresa and George then boarded a plane to come back home because of the pneumonia. On the plane, she must have had an anoxic event (meaning her brain did not get enough oxygen for an extended period of time, probably due to ineffective breathing), so she really did float over bodies and bodies of water and by the time she arrived in Hawaii, she had irreversible brain damage. I also don’t know exactly what was done for her because I was a child and not all of the information was shared with me, but I do know she never recovered.
The moral: sometimes the relatives you dismiss have the most to offer.