I had a dream about him last night. It has been nearly three decades since he died, but there he was. Alive. We met in some kind of diner. A breakfast joint. Maybe this was heaven?
He was running late, I was already sitting in a booth, sipping coffee. When he arrived, his first words were: “Did you miss me?”
“No,” I said.
He studied my face to see if I was joking. He could tell I wasn’t.
I couldn’t quit staring at him. My God, it really was my father. He looked good, too. Slender, red hair, tucked-in shirt, slacks. I’d gone so long without seeing him that I’d forgotten what he looked like.
But it only takes a moment to bring it all back. I could even smell his trademarked hair oil. The day after he died I confiscated his pillow and it was covered in this same scent. I slept on that pillow for five years.
“You really didn’t miss me?” he said. There was that easy smile of his. He wasn’t offended.
I really didn’t miss you.”
He ordered a Coke. And I suddenly remembered that he always drank Coca-Cola. He never was a coffee drinker. Hated the stuff. Just one of the many things I’d forgotten.
Then I started thinking about the differences between us. There were hundreds of them.
For example: he was always well-dressed, whereas I always looked like I crawled from beneath a Chevy. He was a hard worker; I sleep in on weekdays. Everyone called him “handsome”; nobody has ever ascribed that word to me. He was a planner; there is nothing I love more than cancelled plans.
When he was alive, he expected great things from me, but I failed to deliver. From a young age I knew within my kid brain that I would never accomplish the things he hoped for me.
I’m not saying I disappointed him,…