Was it a DREAM?

When I opened my eyes, I knew I was still alive and well, in my own bed. I must have been dreaming. I need to describe this to myself, actually, in order to put it into perspective.

Suppose I was given a chance to visit my Dad in the place where he retired after his death? And we could have that one missing conversation we never had when he was alive.

He sat up straight when I entered his room;  a peaceful place. The walls seemed to be portals into his past; places he loved and enjoyed were more like living photographs,  three dimensional as if I could walk into them with him at my side.

“This is wonderful, Dad.”

“It is the place I have always wanted to have, Peter. It’s not that different from your rooms when you were growing up. I was so proud of you when you created different spaces with some cardboard and paints, like the honky-tonk saloon you made when you were nine. Complete with music, I might add. Your Mother cringed at the sound of a honky-tonk record of an old out of tune piano! It made me laugh. The complete opposite of her music world.”

I loved my room. I was confined there so often, I looked forward to it: I could imagine being anywhere I could imagine, similar to astral travelling before there was a term for it.

“And you always seemed to find the right music.”

“I had no idea you knew about the music! I don’t remember you smiling like you are now.”

“Forgive me, my son. I had to learn to separate myself while I was home. You said it yourself once with a short comment …”

“Mom allowed us to disobey you, so you had no power.”

“I also had a fear of exposing how much I cared about all you children. My favorite times were when we went camping, sometimes just the two of us. You were always exploring for things, and running back with oddities I’d have never seen, like a branch that looked like a snake, or a pinecone so lopsided it looked like the corner biscuit – the one that expands on one side because there are no other biscuits to hold it in place.”

“Why were you so quiet?”

“I never grew up with the freedom to express myself, and the neighborhood kids bullied me into silence, especially my oldest brother. He was the leader of the doom squad, smashing any dream I talked about.  So I quietly went about my own business. I am sorry about being intimidated by you ...”

“Intimidated? How so? That really surprises me!”

“… Well, you seemed so free to express yourself. I never was allowed to speak until my Father nodded. Do you remember your Grandmother, Sophia? Take a minute to imagine growing up with her controlling everything all the time. The only freedom I had was away from my parents. I promised I’d never be that mean. It was a real internal battle when your Mother started to paddle you. She asked me to make a plywood paddle, and every stroke she took hurt me as well.”

“I only recall two beating with that paddle, Dad, but they’re still with me.”

“I am so thankful you came today. I needed to get things off my chest as well.”

“Somehow, just acknowledging this is like a deep healing, Dad. I almost want to call you Daddy again. We did some great adventures together, just you and I.”

“I tried to help you become strong; to use your brain rather than brawn while still defending yourself. Remember that bully Donald, the kid in the ninth grade for the third time, started hassling you, and you stood your ground. The gym coach talked to me about it, and said the whole gym class seemed to be lifted up because someone finally stopped him in his tracks.”

“You knew about that? You never mentioned it.”

“I was uncomfortable sharing my feelings with anyone, Peter, but that didn’t mean I was without feelings. Your Mother never wanted you to tell stories because it made her afraid. She was always so afraid, yet she hid it well, don’t you think?”

“What did Coach Barnaby tell you?”

“It sounded as if you boys had tangled once before, when the apple was flattened on the side of his face. The kids said you swung your lunch bag so hard, the apple broke through the bag and smashed in half on his face! I smile privately when I imagine it. What was it like for you?”

“It was terrifying, really. As I watched the apple juice run down his face, he shouted ‘wipe it off, asshole,’ I glared at him with as mean a face as possible, saying, ‘Wipe it off yourself, asshole.’ The entire field of kids paused mid-action, and they all turned toward us. I was so puffed up with fear I didn’t think about being beaten to a pulp.  I had already drawn a line and I pointed at the line saying, ‘You crossed it asshole; shouldn’t have done that.’ After he turned and walked to the locker room, the whole field of our peers sighed with relief. It was a scary moment of victory leaving me wondering what he’d do in return.”

“Wasn’t the next fight a year later?”

“Yes. After a year of verbal bashing, Barry, our own neighborhood bully, took me under his wing and taught me to cuss and swear, so I could hold my own, at least verbally."

 “Not to interrupt, but I though Marty taught you all those nasty words! I am glad to know it was Barry.”

He turned to his wall of images from his past and shouted with a smile.

Hey Marty! I apologize for thinking it was you!’

I heard Marty’s unmistakable laugh.

“Damn it, Frank. I needed that story! Now I have to come up with another! Now you’ve taken away one of my bragging rights, Damn it!”

I could imagine him cross himself and touch his forehead as if asking forgiveness for both cussing and telling a fib, (I think we called them fibs, or little white lies). Marty’s laugh rang like the chime of bell ringers at Christmas. More on Marty later: He was Dad’s alter ego, and we always had fun when Marty showed up. I’ll have to visit him as well.

“So you were told about the BIG BLOW?”

“…  when you pushed his tooth through his upper lip; that one.”

“You surprise me, Dad. I didn’t know you cared about me.”

“Oooh! That hurts! Now I understand how we all, including me, spent time hiding from things either imagined or real. We were more alike than different. You were able to express yourself freely, when I was only allowed to silently observe. Tell me about the upper lip incident.”

“Dad! You even have a name for it?”

“Sure do! What? Do you think we don’t brag on our children up here? From up here I get to see all my mistakes, and you were certainly NOT one of them. Please! I want to hear your own description.”

“Are you sure you won’t get angry?”

“There is no anger up here. Think of it as your personal utopia. You always refer to Petertopia to calm you down and allow the anger to drain away, don’t you? I thank you for calling it that! Up here it has caught on, and all of us have our own utopias. That’s what this retirement is all about. Now the story, please!”

“Remember the time when I asked if I could learn to fight, and you assumed I meant boxing?”

“I sure do; that big x-boxer was a gentle giant, right? His hands were as big as a baseball mitt! He …”

I held up my hand to stop him.

“I’ll never get through this if you keep injecting stuff. Come on Dad. Let me finish one thing before I forget.”

“I’m sorry Peter. I am so proud of you for fighting back, standing up for what you believe, and for being my son. Up here we don’t keep time. We just have unlimited moments to share, and we never forget ANYTHING! I will wait until you finish.”

“Really? Sometimes I think you as that history professor in the front of the classroom, lecturing to blank faces who have to attend your class or get expelled. You do know …”

Dad held up his hand, smiled tightly, kept silent, and motioned me to go on. I was impressed! He had not done that before. As if he could hear my feelings, he smiled slightly bigger, and motioned for me to get back to the story!

“So, the upper lip incident...”   (Laughter, lots of laughter!)  


To be continued! I have to find the rest of the Audio, or record it again.

This 'dream' WOKE me up!
I grabbed my journal and wrote it down. 
May 17th, 2016