“A sweet thing, for whatever time, to revisit in dreams the dear dad we have lost…” Euripides, Greek dramatist (485-406 BC)
Up until the time I was well in my 30’s, all I had ever known about my father was what had been told to me – that he was a career serviceman who died while serving in the US Army in Dachau, Germany. That picture seemed to suffice for much of my childhood and adolescence. The older I became, the more my lack of knowledge concerning my dad bothered me. As a father in my 30’s, more questions began to creep in and the desire to know more began to blossom. I realized that for most of my life, the majority of my thoughts concerning my dad were superficial. I had no real conscious knowledge upon which to base any kind of emotion, opinion or memory. That would all change with The Dream.
One could very well make the case that the dreams that we have are nothing more than meaningless, random thoughts – triggered and brought to the surface of our minds by the events of the day. Others will say that dreams do have meaning and are sometimes the instruments through which God speaks to the human heart. Perhaps my dream was a combination of the two. Regardless of its origin, this particular dream would change my life forever.
It was a summer evening in 1991 as I was putting our oldest son, Jonathan, to bed. He was five years old at the time and he began asking questions about my father.
“How old were you when he died, daddy?” Jonathan asked.
“I was four,” I told him. “Just a year younger than you.”
“Do you remember him?”
“Well, Jonathan, I was so young that I really don’t have any memories of my dad,” I said.
That night, I struggled to recall my earliest memories. As I shared in earlier posts, I remembered the sheriff coming to our home and my mother crying when she heard the news of my dad’s death.
Our boys grew up calling their grandmother, “Maw,” and that evening Jonathan asked me how Maw and my dad had met. I didn’t know as much then as I know now, but I shared with him how my dad was born and reared in Wyoming and they had met while he was traveling with the Army. I told him about the bus trip that my mom, my brother and I made out to Wyoming when I was six years old, two years after my dad’s death. That would be the only trip that we ever made to see my father’s family. I told Jonathan all that I knew about my dad that evening. Then I kissed him good night and tucked him in bed. As I did so, it occurred to me that my son was the recipient of something I could not remember ever having received. I realized that there was yet another memory that was absent from my mind, that being, the warmth and security of a father’s embrace.
The quizzing about my father only accentuated the fact that I had more questions about him than I had answers. As I went to bed that night, I recalled the innocence of my youth, the struggles of my teenage years, and the search for significance as a young man. I pondered the question of how life would have possibly turned out had he lived. As an adult, God had blessed me with a wonderful wife and two boys of my own. However, it was at this point in my life that I realized there was something missing. There was a void that needed to be filled. I needed to know more about my father.
I drifted off into a peaceful sleep. Before long, I was carried away to another place and time, and it was obvious that the world around me was that of the late 1960’s. I was riding in the back of our old Chevrolet station wagon, and my mom was driving. She looked much younger and was wearing a pair of those “cat-eye” sunglasses. As she pulled over to the curb, a man opened the door on the passenger side and got into the car. He had tanned olive skin and sleek black hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt and khaki pants. When he got in he turned to me and smiled. Immediately I knew who he was and in that moment my heart soared with elation and excitement! In this one brief moment, that thin veil which separates dream from reality lifted, and I knew that I was in the very presence of my father.
He reached back and he began to hug me. And when we embraced, a conversation took place, the words of which are emblazoned in my mind to this day.
“Oh dad,” I said. “I have missed you so much for so long.”
“Why did you miss me?” he asked with a little confusion – almost implying that he had never left me.
“Dad…I just needed you to put your arms around me and let me know that everything would be all right…”
Those words absolutely stunned me. Just recalling them now gives me goose bumps, because those words opened a window into my soul, revealing a profound need I honestly did not know I had. I just needed my dad to put his arms around me and let me know that everything would be all right.
With that embrace, a warmth beyond words began to overwhelm me. I felt ecstatic, relieved, secure and safe. We held each other tightly and I didn’t want to let go. No more would I wonder what it felt like to be held by him, for he was here. I know that in my first four years of life, there had to have been times when he held me and hugged me. I believe that what I felt in my dream were the actual feelings of my father’s hugs – tucked away in the subconscious realms of my mind and somehow elicited for this occasion.
I awoke suddenly and realized that I was crying uncontrollably, my pillow wet with tears. I was stunned and had to go to another room to fully wake up and regain my composure. Gradually, I realized that God had allowed me to have a few minutes with the father I never really knew.
I felt rejuvenated and renewed by the dream. It strengthened my desire to find out more about my father. The compulsion to learn more would be met by a concerted and intentional effort to dig for answers.
A deeper spiritual reality emerged from the dream. In addition to God’s giving me a glimpse of what my earthly father was like, He gave me a clearer understanding of my Heavenly Father. It was almost as if God, Himself, put His arms around me and gently whispered, “Now will you believe that I have taken care of you for all these years, and that I will always take care of you? Will you believe that I hold you in the palm of My hand and that I have wonderful plans for your life? Will you believe that I have always been your Father, and my promise to you is that everything will be all right?”
The Dream is as vivid in my mind today as it was twenty-two years ago. Each time I recall it, even now, I am moved to tears. Although it would take a few years to come to fruition, my quest to find the truth would primarily be powered by this incredible dream.