After many, many sleepless nights that began as a siege against my psyche some months ago, I finally slept on the eve of Summer Solstice and coincidentally, Father's Day. I have remembered my father more than a few times lately as I recognize that the demons I struggle with in these recent days are the same forces he battled in his final years. I find myself often nodding in moments of insights, recognition, and understanding.
So it is no surprise that I dreamed of my father last night. What was surprising was that my son also played a major role in this somnolent production.
My father, my son, and I were living together in some strange yet familiar building in a community that is my frequent destination whenever I dream. It is a place both urban and rural, with a row of buildings on a tree-lined street. Behind our building on the corner of the street directly in back of us is an old magnificent church with a steeple that defines the sky and the horizon.
My son was in his teens and struggling to understand himself in the context of the world, a world he never made but now demanded his allegiance and compliance. I saw this same bewilderment in his face the moment he was born, as though he had been plucked from another universe and thrust into this new existence without warning or explanation.
I found myself in a large shopping mall, and came across my son roaming through the mall and ending in a game room where he was playing various games with his friends. I asked him about the car and he threw me the keys. Somehow I knew where the car was and I noticed there was damage to the cars next to us. Then it became evident that our car was totaled and suddenly I was with my Dad and the car in front of our building. My Dad was laughing and I was distressed.
"I don't know if it is worth rebuilding," I said as we assessed the damage.
"Of course we"ll rebuild it," my Dad replied, "it's a great car."
This was the essence of my Dad's philosophy. Everything was always within our control and despair was pointless. Quietly he shaped the circumstances of our lives so we always were creating our future from the circumstances of the present.
My son came home and saw the car, and we were already were reclaiming the parts and sorting them for renewal. He attempted to say something about the damage, but my Dad held up his hand and said that it would take my son many years to surpass the wrecks he had with more cars than he could remember. "The odds are always against you, " he observed, "but in the end, you can beat 'em." He continued to my son, "When you surpass my record, then you can be sorry... but not too much or too long..."
The only time the three of us were actually together were a few summers in Arkansas when my son was around nine years old. It was an idyllic time where we drove around the mountains finding swimming holes, caves, and caverns. At night we cooked out and my son regaled us with descriptions of the universe, fueled only by his imagination and the magnificent summer sky that served as a canopy, a movable tent that was somehow an assurance that all was right with the world despite the relentless onslaught of reality that seemed always lurking in background with sinister intentions.
This dream resonates even now, as though celebrating the joys of fathers and sons connected through real and remembered fantasies of the heart.