In my dream this morning I’m with Mom in a town with a kind of fortress-like complex. There are plenty of other people here who seem normal and nice. We drive through an open gate into the middle of the fortress courtyard. There are officials here, but they don’t bother us. They seem like good guys.

At one point, one of my dogs gets loose from the car, so I go after it and retrieve it.

Mom is sitting in the driver’s seat of the car now, with a dog in the passenger seat and another that I don’t recognize sitting in the backseat. I don’t see my dog, Kaylee, so I think she must still be loose. I ask Mom what happened to her, but she doesn’t know. I put this dog into the backseat with the other and sit in the passenger seat. I want to drive to look for Kaylee.

Now there’s a pond-like pit full of water behind the car. Mom turns the car around and starts to drive into it. I yell at her to stop, smacking her forehead as I say, “Stop! Stop! Stop!” But she still drives right into the water. The car is white. The windows are partly open. I manage to climb out my window, swim up, and get out of the water, but Mom and the car full of dogs sinks under the surface. I yell for help, saying my Mom is in that car, but no one comes to help fast enough. I jump into the water, even though it’s too dark to see anything that might be in the water.

The water is cold and dark. Something grabs my right arm. I realize it’s a zombie arm with fingernails that dig slightly into mine. I swim up and pull out a pair of skeletal zombie arms, setting them on the concrete by the side of the pond. I go back under the water, looking for Mom, but find only another pair of zombie arms grabbing me. I pull up another pair of skeletal arms and set it on the concrete next to the pit. I do this again and again until I’ve pulled out 4 pairs of zombie arms, one upper torso zombie and one full body zombie. The upper torso zombie and the full body zombie are still moving and thus potentially dangerous. I’m scared, but more scared of Mom drowning than of the zombies that were grabbing me when I went under the water.

I climb out of the water pit and explain how I’ve been pulling out zombie arms and one full zombie. Now another zombie wearing a yellow jumper shows up inside the fortress courtyard. The officials finally move to action. I bump some device lying on the ground, and the gate on the other side of the courtyard shoots out a red laser beam, that I think must have been designed to defend the fortress against zombies.

I apologize for setting off the laser beam, but nobody was hurt, so it’s ok. I realize I’m still not scared of the zombies and wonder why. I think and tell the other people, it’s because I know zombies aren’t real. Then I say, “Well the ones like in the book The Serpent and The Rainbow are, but they’re just brain-damaged people.

I go up some stairs into a small office that overlooks the courtyard. I’m talking to an official guy, but worried again about trying to find my dog. I think it’s too late to help Mom. I wonder if she’s going to turn into a zombie and climb out of the pit or if the zombies were supposed to stay under the water because they can’t swim up and climb out. (I wake shortly after this part.)

Notes / Interpretation:

My Mom has severe Alzheimer’s. When she was living in her own home still, I would go to look after her, take her out to lunch, take her to doctors appointments and stores. She and I would always argue and fight. Sometimes she’d grab my arm and slightly dig her nails into it while I was sitting in the driver’s side of my car. That she is driving the car in this dream symbolizes me feeling like she was controlling my life, even though she wasn’t mentally capable of controlling her own life. Because she was in control, and gave me no legal control over her, her finances or her legal affairs, she and I both lost everything. I received some papers about the remains of her estate yesterday, which triggered this dream.

I think this dream is saying that having severe Alzheimer’s is kind of like being a zombie. The body still functions, but the brain stops working right. The person becomes totally irrational and self-centered, to the point where they can hurt those around them without realizing it. (Mom had a friend with Alzheimer’s who tried to feed snail poison to her son’s dog, thinking it was dog food.) At some point then, a caregiver of a person with severe Alzheimer’s has to save himself, before the damaged person destroys them too.

Mom is in a skilled nursing facility now, which is kind of like being in that water pit for me. I don’t see her, though I know she’s still alive in there…alive, but not really alive. She eats and sleeps, but she can’t talk and probably doesn’t know who I am anymore. When I let go of being responsible for her, it was like saving myself from a zombie who was going to destroy me. She almost did destroy me, because nobody else would help me when I couldn’t take care of her on my own. We both ended up losing almost everything we had, but I’m at least still alive, still have a roof over my head, and I’m trying to get a job that will pay my rent before I run out of money.