19 Aug A Dream of Dad
I had a really crazy second round dream this morning about my father. By second round I mean the kids had woken up at 6:30 and we had all gotten back to sleep for a little bit, so it was a thin sleep that didn’t feel like sleep.
In the dream, I got a few letters from American Express that had to deal with fraud. There was some note in each one that detailed a complaint I had made. The dream didn’t start out having anything to do with my father. At some point though, the letters began to reference my father and it turned out that two of the letters had to do with situations involving him.
One apparently took place when he was in graduate school in Ann Arbor, Michigan- and somehow the letters included voice transcripts of recordings of the interviews. In this interview the officer of some sort was trying to explain that from the Upper Pennisula one could see Russia- which isn’t true- but also had nothing to do with my father’s frustrating situation, so he got short with the guy. My father didn’t suffer fools gladly, but he usually enjoyed taking official discussions off course. This is a past time that I too enjoy when I’m in the right mood. However, when either of us aren’t in the right frame of mind we can get short with telemarketers, cashiers, sales people, and Jehovah’s witnesses that knock at inopportune times.
I think that in the dream he was feeling inconvenienced by the fraud so the further annoyance of the cop taking the subject off course set him off. The dream then morphed into a situation where my bearded 80’s father was in the back seat of my car asking me about the third letter which had to do with an accident he was involved with. There was something slightly infirm about him in this dream memory- which is odd because I don’t have any memories where he wasn’t in control of the situation. Even as his physical health deteriorated, he was very much a leader.
I think that this part of the dream references a situation a few years before he passed away in which he got into a fender bender- where someone accelerated and then stopped at a highway entrance. There was no damage to either car, but she tried to sue him for whiplash- which made him incensed, partly because he had hit her and partly because it was clearly ambulance chasing. In the dream it was almost like he was a calm child or an Altzheimer’s patient.
What’s most interesting about all this is that he felt so present in the dream- and I have not been able to achieve that sense of presence in quite a long time. I think it’s because being at the beach in a motel reminds me of going to the beach with my parents when we were growing up.
As I write this I’m sitting in a motel chair fighting with my 7 year old daughter, who is being a total jerk. We have a few hours left at the beach and she is just being contrary all the time. I’m at my wits end about it really. I wonder now how difficult I was. I know I wasn’t particularly easy, and I know that my dad exploded at me from time to time, But was I this annoying? So often now, I feel torn between two places in time. As I observe my daughter and imagine myself, I can also imagine myself as my father. I almost feel as if i am my father looking at me when I am my looking at my daughter, and through this process I get a better sense of myself then and now- and a sense of what my father must have been thinking and feeling. Because in truth we don’t reveal our full true selves to our children. We have to project maturity and adultness even when we feel like kids ourselves. Why? why can’t we just let them know that we are still children – because then the lines get too blurred- which is clearly already a problem in our family where our oldest thinks she’s in charge
The same is not true of our younger daughter and i do feel more comfortable acting childlike with her. Go figure.