wed 29 jul 2009 16:06:07 witte de withstraat
i love my laughing dad
i was upstairs in our old house, at a time when my father was already very sick, terribly thin and weak and really close to death. i thought i should check if he hadn't already died during the night. i was scared of death. i tapped on the door of my parents' bedroom and called out pretty loud, dad are you okay. i pushed the door open a tiny bit, it was dark in there, just a bit of light coming in around the edges of the curtains. dad was lying on his side with one arm resting on the other shoulder. he said he was fine. then: he got up, and stood on the bed, and looked like he was gonna do some kinda tumbling act. then he came out to cross the hall toward the boys' bedroom. and i turned to go down the stairs.
for some reason it occurred to me just then to tell him: hey dad. don't forget i love you. i think he said what? and i slowed down on the stairs, and said the same thing a little louder and clearer. don't forget: i love you dad. at which instant the truth of what i was saying possessed me. i turned and went back up to the top of the stairs and gave dad a big hug. he was smiling, and his face was like real dad, the one i remember from when i was very young, the laughing dad. and he wasn't thin or weak any more. tears came to me, after we hugged, and i was on my way down the stairs muttering "i love my father, but i never told him. i love my father." now of course the house was very big again, like in so many other dreams. i didn't want to spend time with all those people down there. i stepped outside the screen door onto a sort of roofed patio, like where the parking loop should be of a mansion. there were wicker chairs with cushions outside. i remember thinking, is this a private home really, or some kind of institution? it could be an old-folks home or something. then, two old, very furry cats waddled up to me, wanting attention. i leaned to pet them. one of the cats was so old that his head was permanently twisted to look behind him.
i think it has been a very long time since i had one of these dreams about my father being still alive but dying. i used to have them around 1980, when i was feeling guilty about being a burden on my mother. then i had one more dream where my father was dead, but had just come back to visit for thanskgiving. now i had a dream where my father seems at the brink of death, but then seems to snap out of it and become younger. as i'm leaving him he's even (i think) crossing toward the boy's bedroom (where bill and i grew up pretending that the stripes in the plaid linoleum were city streets for the toy cars). i had tears in my eyes when i woke up, feeling really good and somehow lighter, but also with a pain in my heart.