A Dreamer Lives Forever…

My For a dreamer lives forever. And a toiler dies in a day. John Boyle O Reilly

My mother used to say this to me. I think she considered it her motto. But I never knew what she dreamed of. I wish I had asked, I wonder what she would have told me. Or did it have more to do with me? I think that may have been the case. Like many of her generation, she was schooled in poetry. To her dying day, she quoted whole poems, The Charge of the Light Brigade being a favorite, most anything by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Carl Sandburg. We lived on a river and at certain times of the year fog formed a wall between the banks. I never look out onto fog now that I don’t see a grey cat, tail curled around its feet, floating in the mist.

Looking back on the dreamer quote through the space and wisdom of time, I think it was her way of encouraging me. I was a late child, born nine years after my only sibling. My parents well into middle age at the time and unsure of what they needed to do about this tiny bundle of energy born at a time when they thought life would be slowing and settling. Growing up in a neighborhood where all the kids were older and male, it soon became apparent that the lone girl child needed some serious coping skills. I developed them quickly. I became an over-achieving daredevil of a child. Nothing was too hard or too dangerous.

Add an overactive imagination, and learning to read at the tender age of two into the mix, and you can see I had a setup for adventure. We built snow forts, igloos, and practiced skiing down snow packed stairs. We recreated entire battles in our snowy fields. We’d heard of the Tenth Mountain Division and although we had little knowledge of the men who served with them, we made up battles and stories for our play forts.

Then came Mark Twain. What better books for children growing up along a river. We lashed fallen branches together built rafts, all of which died watery deaths. None of us did though, I can remember being rescued by the tugboat captain once. Given the river we played in, I’m surprised we don’t glow in the dark! We didn’t just read Huckleberry Finn we reenacted it. We paid homage to Tarzan by building platforms in trees and swinging out over the river on ropes.  My parents took much of this in stride. They did draw the line when I jumped out of the second story window. I landed unbroken and unfazed, rescued the wagon train from Billy the Kid and had heck to pay when I knocked on my own front door to be let back into my house.

I met Jo March about the same time most of my friends were losing interest in playacting. The age difference between my playmates and me became an insurmountable chasm. My endless imagination turned inward and I began writing stories. School always came easy. I excelled at the work, math, science and English all flowed effortlessly. My teachers were thrilled, but they all had one negative comment. She’s a dreamer, they would write in my report card. My parents attended conferences where teachers expressed frustration that once I understood something, I lost interest in the rest of the class and immersed myself in writing stories. Many of which I was forced to read aloud as punishment. One or two paragraph flights of fancy that often drew applause from my classmates.

My parents would come home from these meetings at a loss as to how to discipline me. My mother would say, “She’s a dreamer, Bill, and a dreamer lives forever, a toiler but a day.” I’m still a dreamer. Now my dreams take the form of books and short stories. Some of them sell, some do not, but they are all a part of me. Some, like this post, are rooted in the child.

How about you? Are you a dreamer? Do you still follow your dreams?


Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, five cats, and a flock of conures. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

10 thoughts on “A Dreamer Lives Forever…”

  1. Thanks, Kait, for bringing it all back! It sounds as if we could’ve been playmates. It’s interesting that you mention the Tenth Mountain. Those brave soldiers have fascinated me, too. The site of their training camp is practically in my back yard. I have written a mystery novel that touches on their story, and it should come out some time next year. Yes, I’m definitely a dreamer, too!


  2. What a beautiful post. I love the list of writers you were nurtured with and then discovered as a young reader.


  3. Sue, I’ll be on the lookout for your novel. Please be sure to let us know when it’s available. 10th Mountain really caught our imagination when we were kids. I’ve never been to Colorado, but that is one of the places I would be sure to go. Aren’t the old 10th Mountain huts now hiker/skier refuges? Seems I read something along those lines.


  4. Thanks Theresa, it seemed so normal at the time, but it strikes me as strange in retrospect – we were all readers in my group of friends and family. We cut our teeth on the classics. I hope kids today still do the same.


  5. Sounds like your teachers’ “punishment” wasn’t very effective. 😉 I guess since I spend my hour a day in with my make-believe friends and would often prefer to stay there that makes me a dreamer. And happy to be one!


  6. Love this! While I didn’t have the neighbor children to play with (no neighbors!), I had endless woods and a stream and a meadow. As an only child, my playmates were all imaginary in the early years. My parents never asked what I got up to while outside, and I so appreciate that. Lovely memories that all children should get to make. There’s nothing like spending hours reading while safely ensconced in the nook of a tree branch, high above the ground.


  7. Mary, I always wondered why they did that. It seemed pointless, especially when the other kids started looking forward to it. They were always mysteries and one kid in class used to say he was going to be a writer too, but he had to get his clues out of the clues closet. I still laugh thinking of Jimmy O’Brien!


  8. Pamela, that is so true. I hope kids today are making these kinds of memories. Part of my childhood was spent on my great-grandfather’s farm in upstate NY. I can relate to long days of roaming free accompanied by imaginary friends. They were special times.


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