Last Night I Dreamed Of Dad
(Short Story)You are turning into a miserable old man
Last night, I dreamed of my father. He died sixteen years ago and had not found his way into my dreams in the last ten.
“Hi, Dad, you look great.”
“Hi, Son, I think you are just being polite. You can hardly see me. I’ve been dead so long now. You are only seeing me in your dream right now. No, you don’t really see me. You are only dreaming that you see me. When you wake up in the morning, you will not remember how I look like tonight.”
“Whatever, then. Dad, it’s still good to dream of you.”
“Wrong again, Son. It’s never been good for you to dream of me. The first time you dreamed of me, I was dying. The second time you dreamed of me, I had just died and you were such a sorrowful soul. The third time, you were having this cough for three months and you were so sure that you were dying. The fourth time, your boss had just died and you were expecting drastic changes at work….” My father went on for a good while and he was right. I was never feeling good when I dreamed of him.
“You’re right again, Dad. Nonetheless, I don’t think anything bad is happening this time. I’m doing OK at work. My health is fine. My wife is also more relaxed with the children’s problems these days. We have even seen the end of the dog’s toilet-training and don’t need to clean up after she’s shitted on the carpet.”
“It’s your son. He is turning sixteen tomorrow.”
“That’s not a bad thing, Dad.”
“Yes, it is. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to you. You are going to get angry all the time. You are going to feel that you want to beat somebody up, the first time in your life. You will feel so miserable that you will even say yes if he asks for your permission and blessing to move out. That’s the reason why you are dreaming of me.”
“No, Dad, I don’t think so. He’s always been good. He may be careless, and at times slack. He does jump before he looks. However, he always admits his mistakes and tries to make things right.”
“Let me explain this. You are talking about how he has been, or was. I am here to tell you how he will be. You don’t have to question the accuracy of this information. In dreams, dead people know everything and always tell the truth. He is going to change from nine parts sweet and one part handsome to 100 percent selfish, eighty percent hostile and fifty percent foolish. Don’t question the math as that‘s not important. This is the good news you are having tonight.”
“Good news? That sounds terrible.”
“You haven’t heard the bad news yet. The bad news is that you are turning into a miserable old man.”
“No, not me, impossible. I am as fit as I have ever been. I only weigh three pounds more than the weight I had when I finished my fastest marathon. My blood pressure is good, so are my cholesterols. Besides, I am always open to other people’s opinions.”
“Son, did you remember having this reunion dinner with your high school classmates last month? Did you tell your wife afterwards that you felt you were somehow older than your friends, even though you’re physically fitter? Do you know why? This is why - you were the only one with teenage children. I’d share this tip with you. Go mix with the older men with teenage children. You would feel more at ease with them. Talk to the ones who cope well. You would learn from them and become a wise old man.”
“Dad, I’m only forty-six.”
“It’s not how old you are that makes you an old man. It’s not even how unfit you are. It’s how helpless and unhappy your children make you. Welcome to the club. You will find your son staying up late at night surfing the world-wide-web, browsing cheap useless gossips, and, of course, porn. You will find him still sleeping when he is supposed to be up getting ready to go out for this Sunday family lunch together. You will find yourself timing his phone calls and his showers. You will find yourself talking louder at him and using more satire in your words than you would to your worst enemy. Your son is going to look into your eyes and complain that you don’t understand him. You won’t know what to say as he is right. You wish you can understand him but even more, you wish he can understand you and how right you are.”
“That sounds awful. What am I going to do?”
“Don’t worry, Son, you’ll be all right. You did survive your youth, didn’t you? That’s a jolly great track record. I probably did not tell you that I really wanted to bash you up every now and then, when you were a teenager. You remember that time you commented on my gambling? I only told you off and banged the table instead. What about the other time you asked me to drink and talk less. I blushed in anger but I didn’t say anything. I was doing well, wasn’t I? You’ll be all right. You would go through this much stronger and wiser. The great times you had with your son and the great times you had with me will help you through this. Just like how you almost got drowned but then became a good swimmer, you’d become a much better father after crawling out from the pits. You have heard that children are here to make parents whole. That’s correct. Being whole means surviving the quality control and passing flawless. You owe it to me as my son but you can only pay back as your son’s father.”
“Thanks, Dad. Now I see. But will I remember this in the morning?”
“Yes, you won’t remember what you did to me thirty years ago, but you will remember this dream you have tonight. This will help a little when your son does all sorts of things to you in the coming few years. I’ve got to go now. Take care, Son.”
“I’m sorry, Dad. It didn’t occur to me that I was hurting you…” I had so much more to tell him, yet he was suddenly gone, just the way dead people disappear in dreams of the living.
This morning I got up and went to work, just like what I always do. When I stopped for lunch, the vivid dream returned to me. I couldn’t resist calling my mother.
“Mum, how was I when I turned sixteen?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“I just wonder whether I was terrible?”
“I wouldn’t say so. I did think you were much nicer when you were small. You did turn good afterwards. ”
“I did turn good? What do you mean? I can recall I was a very reasonable teen…”
“Sorry, Son, you weren’t. But I really can’t talk. Got this lunch lined up and I have to run now. Ask me again later, if you really want to. Bye.”
The phone went dead but I could still hear my father’s words through the ear-piece, “Don’t worry, Son, You’ll be all right.”