The Unexpected Visit

I finally went to bed around 4:30 after that bout of insomnia the other night. I knew I would be a mess in the morning, especially since my first appointment was at 9:00 and I had a total of three training-by-phone appointments in addition to my usual duties as Mr. Message Man. But what could I do…

I did fall asleep quite quickly, but was awaken by a dream. Some dreams I remember; most, I don’t. This one I will never forget.

I dreamt of my father. He was walking around in a room where some family friends and relatives were gathered, and talking away about me — all in French, of course — right in front of me. “That’s it!” kept declaring one of my uncles who was present. “He’s totally losing his mind!” Dressed shockingly badly in what I’d call “flood pants” and looking a bit buffoon-like, my father was saying stuff like, “You know, that’s my son Maurice over there. He’s very nice. And he’s homosexual, you know…”

I remember feeling mortified — not because he was outing me to everybody who’d listen, but because of the way he was ambling about and talking was just plain silly. But then he turned towards me, his shoulders bent forward and rounded, and he winked at me as if to say, “You DO know, of course, that I know I’m sounding silly.”

And I woke up.

Initially I felt icky about this vision of him. Icky, with some lingering vestiges of embarrassment. Still half asleep, my mind started to compute …to orient where I was, what time it was… And that’s when it hit me.

It was March 12. The fourth anniversary of his death. Then I looked at the alarm clock. I always set it an odd number of minutes ahead to force myself into some mental gymnastics to galvanize myself into getting up. Seeing the time, I did some additional gymastics: back in 2004, we didn’t observe Daylight Saving Time as early; so I subtracted one hour and some minutes, and my heart sank. It was 5:45.

Yes, my father came to me at the EXACT anniversary of his death. And then, recalling that the tone of his “strange” talk was how he spoke to us kids when he playing with us, and remembering how he essentially was such a worry wart who didn’t smile much, let alone laugh and joke much, I didn’t feel icky or embarrassed anymore.

He’s free now to be silly and playful. He can be a dad without paying any attention to the age of his kids. He can tap into those memories of when he was happiest. And he can come to me and finally tell me that he’s always known about me, his youngest son, and all’s fine.

Merci Pa. Je ne t’oublie pas non plus…

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