I would hazard a guess that about half of my readers are not quite familiar with my attitude regarding titles for various blog posts. So, for the both of you (I round up), here it is in a nutshell. I firmly believe that a good title will write a good post. That being said, there’s no accounting for many of my posts…
Yesterday morning the most bizarre thing happened. It was Sunday and the four of us all woke up in plenty of time for the 8AM mass in our parish. This is unusual only because we typically rush to the 10AM and if we’re really tired (and feel like punishing ourselves) it’s the noon mass. If we have to go to the 5:30PM mass on a Sunday we see it as penance for the sin of laziness for that is the mass with the “teen choir”. Enough said.
My wife thought this was going to be a great day because we now suddenly found ourselves at home, having already been to mass, at 9:15 with a whole day open wide in front of us. The only flaw in this thinking is that some of us were so tired from having been up so early that he (I) drifted off toward a nap. And a most pleasant nap it was too. Until…
I Had A Dream
No one really knows how these things work except God so I won’t attempt to explain it. At some point during my less-than-an-hour nap I found myself sitting in the drivers seat of a car that was parked at a curb in a familiar-looking location. I recognized the car right away. It was the last Buick my dad had owned. He liked Buicks. This was a dark blue 1994 four-door Century and I found it strange that the car looked so much better than the last time I saw it sometime around 2008. It almost appeared to have come right off the assembly line, it was that pristine.
I looked out the window and saw my passenger coming across the street. Somehow I knew I would be driving someone. It was my father. I was fairly surprised considering he’s been dead for over a month. But I didn’t let that bother me too much. In fact I either thought the following or said it outright in my dream: “This will be fun!” He was dressed sort of how I remember him with a black woolen overcoat over his suit, a tweed fedora, and carrying a folded newspaper.
He got into the backseat of the car on the drivers side and Started unfolding the paper. None of this was strange to me. He owned the fedora I was seeing. He did the folding thing with his paper in such a way that I could copy it move for move, it was that routine. The only things that were a little off were the overcoat (I don’t remember him ever owning a black wool variety) and the fact that I was driving him. He had let me drive him places but not normally in his car. If we took his car anywhere, he’d drive. The other thing that surprised me was how healthy he looked. He wasn’t any younger than his 80 years at the time of his death. He was just not “old” looking. I took note of the fact that he was not rail thin. He looked much like I remember him from around the time he retired.
Turning to my passenger I said “So, how are things?” to which he replied “Good,” while glancing at his paper looking for the crossword. It was at this point that – even in my dream – I knew I was dreaming. I figured I’d have a little fun with the old man.
“So,” I asked him rather coyly, “Where’ve been you hanging out these days?”
My father didn’t even look up from the paper.
“You know that,” he replied. There was a hint not of pride in his answer but rather of matter-of-factness as if to say “you know where I am because you have faith.”
“I know, Dad.” And I couldn’t resist needling him once more. I mean how often do you get to spend time with your dead father just the two of you? I had one more question. I asked it with full knowledge that he had received an Apostolic Pardon. Click the link if you don’t know.
“Did you go right in?”
Almost getting a little bothered at this line of questions, again for the seeming lack of faith, he said “Of course!”
Again I added, “Yeah, I know…” before struggling to find the next thing I’d want to ask him knowing I could wake up at any moment.
“How’ve you been?”
That seemed like a stupid thing to ask and a question I had already asked at least three times in different words.
“Well,” he said, “your mother is upset with me…” And here’s where it just got plain weird. “Because I never thanked her for a pair of pants she bought me a few months ago.” “Well, Dad,” I said, “Why didn’t you thank her?” His reply was classic. “Well I meant to, I just didn’t get around to it.”
They say all good things must come to an end. At that moment my phone – the one in my the hand attached to my very real unconscious body lying on the couch – rang. I knew it was over. I opened my eyes and looked at the screen. It was my mom calling.
I shared this story with her. She laughed. “I’m very happy to hear that,” she told me. It turns out that she had bought him some new clothes a few months ago. My father was very particular about the clothes he wore. “I never thought anything of it,” she said, “but I was a little annoyed that he didn’t even try them on.” You see, at that point in his decline bouts of confusion had begun to set in. He would sometimes get dressed in ways we were not used to (for a man known far and wide for his natty appearance). These pants, it turns out, were made by a company that had started to save costs on production by, of all things, shortening the zipper. For Dad, this simply would not do. Also, he couldn’t distinguish whether they were navy or very dark gray and it was hard to match them to his shirt. For the record, they are black. I know because they hang in my closet and I’ve worn them several times. And the shorter zipper is a bitch.
Dad, I don’t know why you chose to speak to me or to use me to get that message to Mom; but I’m sure glad you did. Do it again! I’d love to chat some more. Maybe next time I’ll actually get to take you for a spin in that old Century. Until then, as always, I love you.