Dreams and Memories

Memory can be an elusive thing. I’ve noticed lately that I can’t always remember completely what my father looked like. I get snatches of certain looks he had, but then I can’t be sure I have the whole image right. And I hate that.

He died a little over 12 years ago. Sometimes I’ll be out somewhere and out of the corner of my eye I’ll catch a glimpse of someone in a crowd who vaguely resembles him. It happened the other day while my wife and I were picking up some summer clothes for our daughter. An older gentleman was walking down the store aisle and if I squinted, or looked partly the other way, the hairline, hair color, and general stature was enough like my father that I deliberately kept not QUITE looking at him so that I could remember my father in motion.

It was a distinct pleasure to have a vivid dream last night when I actually got to see my father as he had been in his last years. I got to give him a big hug, and even though we hadn’t held hands since I was a little kid, we held hands briefly before he told me he had to go. I wish we could have said a few words, but I knew the whole time that he was dead and didn’t really belong there. Around us was the click and hum of electric typewriters, as there used to be in English departments everywhere, and as there was whenever I visited him at the university at his office when I was a kid.

When I woke up, though, I realized that he seemed smaller than I remembered; I was a little taller than he was. And my memory had tricked me so that I had to ask my wife if I had been taller than my father in later years. She was pretty sure we were about the same height. So am I. I think.

Memory is undependable. And I miss my dad.

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