Meditations on Fathers and Sons

I should be in bed trying to sleep now.

Instead I’m sitting in the dark while rain pounds on the windows, writing this.

I’ve been dreaming a lot about my father lately. I can’t tell you the details. I hardly remember them for more than a few minutes after waking. But he’s there. And we’re always travelling, which is strange.

When I was growing up, we only ever took one family vacation: a drive out to California from Colorado, going by way of Flagstaff and Las Vegas. We went to Disneyland, and then went to San Diego and hung out on the beach for a few days. My mom even drove me up into LA for the Universal Studios Tour, something I need to thank her for periodically. It was a great trip. My first time seeing the ocean. I swam in every pool on the way out there, then after swimming in the ocean, pools had lost their magic. I rarely swam after that.

That is not to say that we didn’t take family trips. We did. But they weren’t vacations. They were what I came to later call “guilt trips,” drives to Denver to see his family, or to Dodge City, Kansas to see my mom’s family. The motivation was always the same. “We have to see your grandparents. They’ll be dead soon.” Though that wasn’t the case. Both sets of grandparents outlived our youthful summer trips.

So I have no idea how my dad got paired up in my subconscious with travel. If he were alive I’d probably talk to him about it.

See, I loved my dad. Growing up, he was emotionally distant, but compared to a lot of upbringings I’ve heard about, it could have been worse. I don’t think he ever really wanted to be a dad, and just bore up under it, eventually learning to like my brothers and I as people. He was a wonderful person on a lot of levels, he just didn’t have that Ward Cleaver touch.

I have my own kids now. Well, adults really. My daughter is drinking age and living in Nashville, while my son is just a year behind her and living here in Seattle. I wish I could say I talked to them more, or that I did more things with them. That’s something I work on improving. As with so many things in our lives, it’s a work in progress. I’d like to think I’m a better father to them than my dad was with me. And thankfully, I think I am.

I could stand some improvement. I’m emotionally distant. I don’t think I ever wanted to be a dad. But once I became one, I tried to do right by it. Yes, I’m emotionally distant, but that’s a problem I face with a lot of people. It’s part of that self-improvement project I’m working on. And it’s already getting easier.

Maybe that’s why I’m dreaming of my dad.

Or maybe it’s the family legacy.

My grandfather died from Parkinson’s. My dad was set to do the same until Pancreatic cancer snuck in and stole him away in the space of a few months. It was a blessing really. Parkinson’s is a horrible way to go.

And it has me second-guessing every stray twitch, every nervous, involuntary motion. I don’t think I have it. Not yet. But if I develop Parkinson’s somewhere down the road it will come as no surprise. And that’s terrifying.

It’s closing in on midnight here in the Emerald City. I have work in the morning. I’ll be going to sleep soon, and there’s no way around that.

I’ll be dreaming of travels with my father again.

And I’ll wake up wondering where he was trying to lead me.

One thought on “Meditations on Fathers and Sons

  1. A very thoughtful and personal post. It sounds as if you’re working through some issues on a subconscious level. Maybe the traveling means it, whatever it is leaving, or moving on.

    I hope dreams will be less restless soon.


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