This morning, I dreamt that I was on the phone to my grandfather. He was careful to remind me that my relationship with my family’s younger generations is the glue that keeps them all together, which was rather more formal, I thought, than his usual language. After a while, the sound began to fade, and I had to bid him goodbye; I felt guilty about this, but sure that I’d see him soon enough and talk to him in person.

I think it was my maternal grandfather; the thing is, though, he died in 1985, and this is the first time I recall dreaming of him in the intervening 25 years. Of course, it could’ve been my paternal grandfather instead, who was a high school principal in life, but he died in the late 1970s, when I was much too young to remember him; and, thanks to my mother, I have no relationship with my father’s family at all.

After I said my goodbyes, my maternal grandmother appeared on the other end of the line, her voice much stronger—presumably because she only died a few years ago—to remind me of my current financial straits, something of which I’m already painfully aware. It’s good to see that death hasn’t dimmed her tendencies to pointedly remind relatives of the obvious…

Mostly, it seems, our loved ones are content to watch silently from the other side of the veil. It’s times like this that I feel sorry for the Chinese, who must propitiate the generations of ancestors that hang over them, meddling from the afterlife. It must really get tiring.