Tuesday, September 25, 2012

DREAMS OF THE FATHER

Last night my father visited me in my dreams.

I didn't recognize him at first — all lanky and dark-haired he was, a version I don't remember from my childhood. By the time he was a part of my waking memory his hair had gone white and he had a paunch. But in my dream he looked young, vital, a man rather than a dad.

He was smoking a Camel, his arm slung casually over the shoulders of Lilian, the woman he would eventually marry. They were smiling.

"Ronald," he said (he always called me Ronald), "you need to listen to your old man."

So I did.

This is important, he said. I know you don't think you know what you're doing, and you're coming dangerously close to blowing it again. You're coming close to opening your mouth and saying something you're gonna regret for the rest of your ever-loving life. So don't say it. Keep your mouth shut. Be patient, son. Let life unfold the way it's supposed to. And once it does you'll see that it'll all turn out the way you want it to. It did for me and Lilian.

He started to recite Yeats — all we shall know for truth before we grow old and die — then stopped and gave me a warning, his ice-blue eyes warm with concern: "Think about you and your own well-being. Don't tell her. Show her. She's just waiting for you to show her."

He kissed Lilian on the cheek. She leaned against him. Their foreheads touched and he fixed her with a look of love that made my heart ache. I remember looking like that, I thought.

Dad smiled as he kept looking at Lilian. "Keep it light, Ronald," he said. "Keep it light and maybe you won't have to just remember."

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