Friday, April 28, 2006

My last semester of college was the fall of 1982. That sounds so long ago. Until the last few years it seemed like yesterday. Not anymore. Now it feels like an eternity ago. I suppose that has to do with the life events of the last couple of years. I recall thinking at the turn of the millinimum I felt like I was about thirty years old when, in reality, I was forty-four. That was six years ago. Now I am fifty and I feel seventy. It is amazing what a mere six years can do.

But that is not the point.

After nine years of college (4 majors and countless minor's) I was finishing up with a flourish. I was within days of being done. I felt like I was finishing a marathon. I suppose I was in a sense. That was when the head of the psychology department sought me out and asked me if I would return for what was called the "Jam Term." That is a two week class where you receive full credits because you attend all day, five days each week. He wanted me to take a new class he was going to teach on "The Interpretation of Dreams." I did not have much tact in those days. I laughed. I hope it was not a disrecpectful laugh. I just found it hilarious that anyone would suggest that I spend one more day in a classroom after all of those days at Trinity. Not to mention all of those checks representing all of those dollars. I pretty much paid my own way through college. I worked full time in factories or stores. Whatever it took to be able to pay tuition. And I was married with a two year old little girl. No way I was sticking around one more day or writing one more check.

Now I kind of wish that I had.

It's just that I keep having these dreams. I cannot call it a re-occuring dream because it is always different. The "star" is always the same though. My dad. He's always very real and very involved in these dreams. He is just like he was in the good years before he passed away in June of 2000. Sometimes in the dream I realize that he is dead and should not be here and yet I am never really surprised. Sometimes I don't realize that he died and so it isn't that odd to see him. But always he looks just like he did in his older but healthier days. He is wearing his infamous red flannel shirt and blue jeans. He is tanned because he spent most of his time out doors on his boat or washing his car or cutting firewood for the coming winter. These dreams don't have any real common denominator other than his presence. There isn't any pent-up anger dying to get out or any huge confession. No tears or inordinate amounts of laughter. He is just ... there.

So I kind of wish that I had taken that class. I don't think I am a stupid guy. There is not a day that goes by that somebody does not ask my opinion about a subject or for counsel in a situation. So I must not be too dense. But I really don't get why I went over five years with virtually no dreams and then all of the sudden ... BAM. Dad is everywhere. I mean my mom has only been gone since September of 2004 and I am not dreaming about her. Sure, I miss her. But I had some great years to love on her before God called her number. Maybe that is what it is. Maybe I never got those years with my dad and I'm trying to subconsciously create them now. Hmmm. I really don't know. But here it is, about midnight, and time to stop writing and go to sleep. Tomorrow is Saturday. I have a wedding to perform for a wonderful friend. She is in her mid-sixties and has lost two husbands. And she is as giddy about marrying her third as any twenty year old is about marrying her first. I just love that. There is life in her. Wait. Let me retype that. There is LIFE in her. Sometimes all "caps" are called for.

I hope dad doesn't show up tonight. It is not that I don't love him or miss him. I do. Very much. I just haven't figured it out and I'm finding myself spending too much time on things that remind me of him. I was in a military surplus store this week. While there I stumbled upon their display of pins and patches. Several struck me immediately as things my father had saved. Relics from his time served in the army during WWII. I bought them. One is a "C.I.B." or "combat infantry badge." The other two are symbolic of the second armored division "Hell on Wheels" in which he served. I have one of his original dog-tags. My brother has the other. We did not seperate them from the same chain until dad finally died. That's the way it works for a soldier. Dog tags only get seperated at death. I've been wearing his lately. He sweat on that piece of steel while in Africa, Europe, and even in Germany itself. It pressed against his chest. Now it presses against mine. His warfare was of a physical nature. Mine is of a spiritual nature. Lot's of similarities. Little time to dwell on them.

I wonder if my dad is in my "great cloud of witnesses." If he is I hope he's wondering if maybe he can have one of my dog tags someday. The ones that identify me as a combatant in "the church militant." Right now he could have anything he wants. I am proud of him. And the missing of him intensifies with time rather than fades. I did not think it worked that way. But then ... I didn't take the class.