Buckle in. I think this is going to be a long one.
I don't dream very much. I sleep. When I dream two things happen. It's in color and I can hardly remember them. It's always been that way. I don't have bad dreams very often. Not even as a kid. When you have the imagination of a fourteen year old boy, your dreams are always fun.
I can fly in my dreams. It's awesome. I have honestly had dreams where Bigfoot and I are a crime fighting team. Those piss me off because as I said, I can hardly remember the details. All I can remember is us being kick ass and Bigfoot having my back.
My dad married my mom when he was 53 and she was 30. I look at my life now and can't begin to imagine raising a child at 49. He was 54 when I was born and 15 months later, I had a brother and dad had another son. As a man I will say, we all want sons. At my dad's age, I'm sure he was ecstatic that he had two. He raised my older sisters as his own. There was no doubt about that. They were his girls and he treated them as such. He was number seven of fourteen and had only three brothers. Ten sisters who he adored. He is how I learned to be a gentleman. Opening doors, walking on the outside of the sidewalk, getting out of your chair when a lady joins the table. All him. His sisters loved him as well.
I was named for my dad. Walter. My family never called me that. It's always been Chip. A "chip of the old block." I've told you that here before.
What I haven't told is how close we were. We all love our parents. But most of you don't know what it is like to grow up with someone who is already old. Your parents were in their 20's or 30's when you were born. My mom was, but dad wasn't. I never knew him as a young man. Yet somehow (God's grace I suppose) I knew he wasn't going to see me grown up for very long. Something made me want to enjoy every moment with him. I would comb his hair before he went to work. When my parents split up, I bought a house and had him live with me. It was his house. I just paid for it. He wanted a new lawn mower, I bought one. He wanted a deck, I bought the lumber and helped him build it. Mostly bought it. I suck at wood. When the deck was built, we were standing on it getting ready to barbecue some steaks.
Dad said, "you put it that board (takes a step) that board (takes another one) and that board".
"How can you tell?" I asked.
"Well, you see that quarter moon around that nail head?"
"I don't do that" If there was a hammer mark, it was a full circle of him hitting it square. Right handed or left, he never missed.
Growing up Catholic, I said my prayers every night. One night I walked into dad's room to say goodnight. He didn't grow up with faith, but he did believe in God. I walked into his room and he was laying in bed. His hands were crossed and he was praying. He was not Catholic but he prayed every night. It's why I still pray. Not that I have doubt ( I don't, ask BG) but because of the example.
He was kind, gentle and had a great heart. When I was a kid saying my prayers, I would say to God "Please don't let my dad die until I'm old enough to understand it." My prayers were answered. I was 31 when my father passed at 86. Though I was heartbroken, I could understand. None of us are getting out alive. I had more years with my father than I could have wished for. And, he went in his sleep. We should all be so lucky.
I don't know why he didn't come into my dreams. Maybe it was the sorrow. Maybe it was my mind not wanting to make me sad. He had been dead for over six years before I first had a dream with him in it.
It wasn't a dream where he said "Be well. I'm alright." It was a dream where he appeared and we had interaction. I could hear his voice. I saw his face. We played cards. It was a dream I remembered the next day. It made me cry on the drive to work because it was so great.
Then he doesn't appear. Not very often. Sure, I'd have a dream and he would be there, but not as much as any of us would like.
Now let me move on to my beloved dog Sloan.
I had dogs growing up. I lost dogs. However, they were never mine. I told you all the story about how I came to have Sloan. She was so incredible. So different from every other dog that I felt lucky to have her. She never acted liked she was very fond of me. Not overly affectionate to me. But if I had to have someone watch her if I left town, they always commented on how she was not the same. I would leave her at BG's house. BG would tell me "when you leave, she wonders around and stays at the front door waiting for you to come back. When she realizes that you aren't, she comes and lays down by me and never leaves."
The hardest thing about having a pet, at least to me, is having the power to say 'it's time for them to go." I mean, what if they could say that? Having that much control over an animal that just lives to love you is hard. It's one of the reasons I haven't adopted another one yet. The biggest reason is because Sloan was so absolutely different from any dog I've ever been around. I'm not saying that because she was mine. I'm saying that because it is true.
Again, I don't dream very much.
Sloan came into my dreams about six months after she died. I don't remember a lot. Just her being happy and me throwing a stick into the river so she could swim. She came into my dreams a couple more times. It bothered me that she came into them so quickly and that it took years for my dad to come into them.
The subconscious is a powerful thing.
About a year after Sloan died she came into a dream. She didn't come running like before. My dad was walking her. I don't remember much, I just remember dad telling me what a good dog she is. She didn't leave his side.
I woke up the next morning with what I could remember. I felt very happy. I have never had a dream since where my dad has not had Sloan with him. It's not the same dream but they are always together.
It's funny. When dad would come into my dreams, I would feel sad the next day. When Sloan would, I would have the same feeling. Now when I wake up after dreaming about the two of them together, I'm skipping and whistling.
It's funny what our minds can do. How the subconscious can take over and turn dark skies blue again.
It makes me sleep better. Knowing that if a dream comes, I can see them both. Maybe I need some psychiatric evaluation, but then, maybe this is just how we heal.