Tuesday, March 3, 2015
A Visit from My Father
I think about my father every day. Although he died in November 1999, I remember him with such fondness that he remains a powerful presence. Last night he appeared in a dream, and I'm pretty sure it was due to my posting on Facebook yesterday this late-1950s picture of him (he's on the far right) sitting with his long-time friends Paul and Rose Sharp, whom he'd known since college days back at Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, in the 1930s. Dr. Sharp had recently arrived to be the new president of Hiram College, where my dad was already on the faculty (Chair, Division of Education). It was a time--as you can see--of fellowship and pipes. (Dad had many of them, stored in a long rack in his room.)
The Sharps--like the Dyers--had three children, and we were close to one another in age--and because our parents were dear friends, we spent lots of time together. It was a wonderful series of years (only about seven), a time I didn't really appreciate sufficiently until, of course, it was all gone ...
About the dream ...
I am with a group of students (I can't remember any identities), and we are sitting together in some sort of surreal place that is both a movie theater and an arrival/departure area at an airport. But this airport area is from the old, pre-9/11 days. We are sitting by a glass door that leads directly out to the airplane where passengers enplane and deplane via a set of movable stairs. While we are sitting there, one group arrives; another departs--all very quickly.
I become aware that my father is with us when I hear him sobbing. I look to my left, see him there, just a few seats away from me.
I rise, go over to him. He is not the young, vigorous version of my father you see in the picture. It is later--much later--when he can no longer rise without help, when all he can really do is turn the TV on and off and doze in front of the flickering screen.
I kneel in front of him, embrace him, hear him say, "I can't see ... I can't see."
Now both of us are weeping. And I tell him, "I'll take you home, Dad. Home."
And then I am awake. I lie there, tears from the dream still on my face, new tears joining them. And I miss my father with a vast desperation.