A true dream story about my dad's visit to me

Jim Chrisman


Your deceased father is a young man with dark hair and color in his face. He invites you to ride with him in the black and white 1956 white Olds sedan. The one you were all so proud of. It was a used car.

"Oldsmobiles are the best --- Just as good as the Caddies the hotshots drive," . . . . Dad would say. The bench seats had no belts, but seemed safe enough 'cause Dad was driving. You'd not been close in life. Dad seldom did any hugging, or anything warm like that. He looks so well and so very young. But you are your age. Fifty-three.

You say, It's as though we really are together, like in real life! You say that's good, and he repeats, "Yes, it is good." What Dad would say in words was brief, and as always during his life, he spoke more through his presence than through his mouth.

You fix on his youthful face. He turns slowly, releasing the wheel. The car is on its own for the moment. He says that he has missed you. And then, locking gaze, he comes up into your face with his younger face, clutching you hard by the arms. You say, how real it is! How the grip of his great hands warms you inside. You can't move your mouth, but he hears.

A timeless serenity sets into your dazed heart. You realize he hears your thoughts. Then you venture a query as a child might ask, Dad, it's ok to talk with the deceased, isn't it? He says that it's good to do that sometimes.

Then, you comfort yourself, . . . . I'm dreaming . . . . He hears. You know that you've spoken out of turn.

The last time you felt this clumsy awkwardness he was on a respirator. You tried to play off the inevitable as you connected with the reality of his dying at the Unversity of Minnesota Critical Care Unit, his swollen, reddened body turning morbid purple. This struggling soul could only return intermittant signals by raising bushy eyebrows to reveal his tortured sockets, wells through which his presence allowed a clumsey connection.

He was tied down with tubes and torn bandages. You recall the smell of the betadine solution, which was painted over his abdomen and neck. The tubes that went in places without openings. The silver muted sound of a disappearing I.C.U. nurse who reassured that he is still there and that you should keep talking. The pulsing words, "renal failure," just drowned out her persisting song of soul prigrimages.

You sense gripping pressure again! This time gaining awareness that the car is spinning out of control as it banks to a curve. You think, God, is this real? He says, "Isn't it?" You say aloud, "Dad, you have to drive!" He says, "But Jimmy, you say it's a dream."

Jim Chrisman