Reading the Signs (from Pizzas to Papas to Puppy Dog Tales)

confusing road signsA few days ago my daughter was driving her daughter (my pretty, precocious, learning-to-read 6-year-old granddaughter, that is) to ballet class, but the little girl suddenly shouted “STOP!” to her mom, pointing a finger up as if to the heavens.

My daughter put on the brakes, frantically asking, “What’s the matter?”

“We have to go to PaPa’s house,” S insisted in her 1st grade know-it-all tone.Papa Ginos, pizza

“Why?” her mother asked, logically. It was 4:55 p.m., and ballet began at 5.

“Because he lives right here!” S replied in an exasperated tone.

To the right of the road a tall red sign stated:

Papa Gino’s.

Ergo, S saw the sign to her grandfather’s house.

The rest of the trip to the ballet studio, my daughter tried to explain that Papa Gino’s was a house of pizza, not the house where PaPa lived.

S hadn’t misread the sign, she’d just misinterpreted it.

(But how neat is it, that S thinks the world created a huge sign directing us all to her PaPa’s house?)

Which made me wonder, how often do I misconstrue signs?

golden retriever, dog lover, lover of dogsExample: my Henry dream.

Many of you know that our elder golden, Henry, died almost a year ago.

My guy and I grieved for this special family member who always had a smile for us, a hug, and even a kiss on the nose if we seemed to need it.

Many friends encouraged us to get a new puppy, since we obviously love animals, but I couldn’t fathom going through puppy training again, much less trying to replace the irreplaceable.

Then the doorbell rang last week in the middle of the night. I was sound asleep. With my eyes closed and while still softly snoring, I saw Henry (looking quite spry and years younger) waiting patiently outside the front door.

“Why’d he ring the doorbell?” I wondered, slowly standing up, sliding on my slippers, waking up as I walked with eyes half closed through the bedroom, the living room, on past the long hallway.

I stopped at the front door.


Henry couldn’t have rung the doorbell.

golden retriever, dreaming, dreaming about a dog

Who rang the doorbell?

Henry’s not alive.

(Never mind the fact that he certainly couldn’t reach the bell, ferheaven’sake.)

But did I turn around and go back to bed?

No, the dream was so real, the sign so strong that Henry was in fact waiting for me, that I opened the door.

No one was there.

Shaking my head at the absurdity of it all, I climbed back into bed, vowing to not tell anyone about my dreaming obsession.

Until the middle of last night.

Henry stood by my side of the bed, and I did what he always asked me to do, what I always wanted to do – I petted him from rear to ears. I felt his coarse thick fur between my fingers, and his muscles relaxed underneath my massage.

Then I woke up.

And watched my hand and arm moving up and down at the open side of my bed, fingers curling as if intertwined in a dog’s mane.

A sign…?

Or just the dreams of a middle-aged sleep-deprived imaginative dog-loving woman?

What do you think?

Perhaps I should ask my granddaughter.

grandaughter love, grandaughter and grandfather love

Following her own sign,
S finds her PaPa.


64 thoughts on “Reading the Signs (from Pizzas to Papas to Puppy Dog Tales)

  1. I can relate.. lost my Dad 10 years ago.. months later I still woke up and reached for the phone to call him.
    And speaking of dreams.. I was sound asleep earlier tonight, only to be awakened, I think by the thermostat being set too high… but was having a really vivid dream.. and even though I knew there was no way I could possibly capture, or articulate the feeling, or even convey a smidgen of the vividness in words.. especially tonight, I had to try…


    • I found your ‘hurricane’ dream VERY real. In fact, that tidal wave may be in one of my nightmares soon! I used to teach dream workshops (long ago, before I realized how dangerous it can be to interpret dreams) and there are definite reasons we have the dreams we do. I imagine you can figure out why you’re having hurricanes and tidal waves. :-0


  2. I love the story of Sophie reading the sign and thinking it showed the way to her PaPa’s! They are so literal at that age. But, the Henry dreams….I’m jealous! I want a Josie dream! We lost the doggie love of our lives 4 yrs ago when she was 14 1/2, but there are still days we call loudly for her (she became quite deaf in her old age) as we enter the house, “see” her curled up on the corner of the rug in the family room out of the corner of our eyes, leave a bite of meat from a dinner out to take home for her, feel a nudge from a loving nose…..she is still very much with us and, I suspect, will always be!


  3. Another awesome, great blog dearest, beautiful Pam! And how real our dreams can seem sometimes. Henry is waiting to see you again someday and you will be together again one day. I know how hard it is after losing a precious furry member of your family. God bless you my dear friend!


    • I’m smiling at Nosey and the way he acquired his name. We bought a little bell for our front doorknob that Henry could ring when he wanted to go out, but he preferred standing in front of us with longing in his eyes. 🙂


  4. I’m intrigued, not skeptical. I had to put a cat down many years ago. Gosh she was lovely. I used to feel her on my bed. I swear the weight of her on the mattress was real. A few years later, we moved. The oddest thing happened. Both my daughter and I saw that cat on the back deck of our new house having looked in through the patio deck doors. And then she was gone. ❤


  5. Aww, this post made me both smile and cry a little too. I love her sign interpretation! I laughed about you still going to open the door to check – often when we wake up from vivid dreams, we half believe they are real for a bit and have to check it out!

    It’s not about replacing Henry, it’s about giving another doggy the chance of living in a happy dog-loving home, and to give you some new doggy fun times; the memories you create with a new dog aren’t to replace the memories of Henry, but to add to them. If you can’t face puppy training, perhaps you could give a home to a slightly older rescue dog?


    • We’ve thought about a rescue dog. Discussion is on-going! I don’t think I’m worried about erasing memories of Henry; I’m just not sure I want to create new ones yet. Weird, huh? :-0


  6. I am a firm believer in intuition and limitless possibilities. The time when we are able to acknowledge that what we know is that we really know nothing at all is when our mind opens up to allow the seemingly impossible to occur.

    Putting the metaphysical philosophy aside, you bring up a much more interesting (and concrete) aspect in your story – the innocent and open-minded eyes of youth. If we were all able to cast aside, if only for an instant, all the preconceived notions we have about the world, and look at things through the eyes of a child, I suspect we would see so many “signs” that we would have an entire other universe to explore 😉


  7. How very literal youngsters can be Pamela. I wonder how easily your explanation went down.
    Dreaming of Henry was magical, to be actually feeling his fur in your hand as you massage him. A visit to bring you some cheer maybe or a reminder to bring a new Henry into your lives?
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx


  8. Your granddaughter is at a wonderful age. Having taught first grade for 17 years the children would amaze me with their interpretation of things and thought processes. I loved it so much…… I only wish I had written down everything they came up with.
    What a wonderful dream about Henry you got to spend some time with him.


    • I didn’t know you were a 1st grade teacher. I have several friends who teach that grade, and we all have decided it’s the hardest grade (and maybe the most satisfying). I had plans to write all of my kids’ witticisms when they were young, and of course didn’t. Now I’m going to try to be better with the grandkiddies.


  9. Dreams some times drift over into reality. Or is it the other way around? You must still really miss Henry. Your granddaughter is adorable! And thanks for the recent visit and comment on my blog!


  10. Perhaps Henry is telling you that it’s ok to look for another puppy. He knows that you loved him, and in your so real dream he is giving you permission. I know that sounds out there, but one never knows. Isn’t it great when the little ones start to read.


  11. What a beautiful dream about Henry, to feel him there so real! I always say a house is not a home without a dog (although I do think it’s important to give yourself time to grieve). Your granddaughter is so sweet! Signs for her grandfather everywhere (Papa Johns, etc.). When I still lived in France, there would be signs in hardware store for “email” products which means enamel and it would make me smile. I imagined little emails sitting on the shelf.


    • Perhaps we should start making up our own signs on our front lawns. Mine might be ‘reading grandmother here’ (which would either mean I’m reading a book, or I’m reading to one of my grandkids!). How about: ‘Dreamer.’ Boy, that would say a lot. You make an interesting point about a house not be a home without a dog. Hmmmm.


    • Just finished reading your Wednesday post (hey, I’m a little behind the game). Getting my book list gathered since those creepy weather people are predicting another winter storm. You’re right, nothing like cuddling up with a special canine friend during a raging storm….


  12. Henry could see you needed a little dog cuddle. Or maybe he needed one. A dog gets impatient waiting for a person to come home from work; just imagine how impatient Henry would be waiting for his person to pass from one life to the next.


  13. Wow, I came to return the stop by. You seem to have a lot of friends dear woman. I am so very sorry to hear about your dog/child’s passing. And I’m with Vanessa-Jane on the need for a new one. Hope you feel as if you are not alone.


    • Sooo many people understand the sadness of missing a pet who was a member of the family. On the other hand, so many of my readers enjoy the happiness of living with a furry friend. That’s a very cheery thought! Thanks for stopping by.


  14. We’ve had lots of dogs and loved every one of them, but we now have one of those “too special for words” dogs. She’s almost ten. Sometimes I feel sad when I think she’s heading into her senior years becaue we’re all so attached to her. I think your Henry dreams are his way of telling you it’s time to think about adopting a dog. It won’t be another Henry (you can’t replace a beloved animal), but I believe having a dog in the house makes it a home.


  15. I love that your Henry came to visit you TWICE in one night. That is the coolest. Almost as cool as the sign story with your granddaughter and PaPa’s Pizza. By the way, I learned today that most people say, “I would like a slice of pizza” not “a piece of pizza” like we do. My daughter informed me that we were either too midwestern or behind the times. Anyway, as for misinterpretation, I am lately convinced that thoughts are wrong way more times than they are right! Hope you’re enjoying being back in winter wonder land.


    • Ohhhhhhh, how wonderful to see your face and read your words here. I visited you over at your ‘home’ with the cactus plant flowers. Beautiful (mine bloomed once, and I’m still hoping for another take before I sacrifice them to the winter goddess).
      I laugh at how our daughters laugh at us. Pshaw, like they know anything. You are neither behind the times nor ‘too miswestern.’ You just like your piece of pizza!


  16. OOH I like this post. I am very close to our pups and can only hope that they visit me when they go as well. We did put one pup down 3 years ago and it broke my heart – still does. I pray he is in doggy heaven and I hope to someday see him again.


    • All of these comments from dog lovers make me realize that all of the main characters in my books should have a dog! Working on that (and on one in my own life…) Thanks for your wonderful blog on books. Just ordered two you recommended.


  17. Definitely a sign that he’s still with you, watching over you. He wanted you to let him in (first dream) and keep him close (second dream). His spirit is with you and he is reaching out to let you know in the most comforting way possible. Be glad for the gift!


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