I have told very few people about this. I don’t consider myself a mystic nor do I put much stock in dreams, and I certainly don’t like to put much stock in extrabiblical ideas. But let me go back just a little bit and provide some background to this.
Many people would have described my father as kind of a simple, ordinary guy. But that’s only because they were missing understanding the depth of his character.
He was known as a hardworking man who tried to provide for his family. Not as well known is that he was an athletic star and could have played professionally if it had not been for World War Two, marriage, and starting a family. He never begrudged leaving sports behind, instead he put his skills and discipline to caring for and raising his family. He had quite a mind. He was very intuitive at math. He could look at problems, cut through all the guff, and figure out the best ways to do things. He could process ratios and percentages to the degree that you didn’t want to play pinochle if he was on the other team. Earlier in his life he was a terror at the blackjack tables even being accused of counting cards (which he was).
He was generous and helpful to others. His generosity went hand in hand with sacrifice in providing for his children both biological and foster.
When we lived in England I would have long phone calls with him often with his recounting the latest disaster in a Phillies or 76ers game. I started to pay attention to sports thinking I was doing it for him, but really, he was providing a Taste of Home and the distraction from the pressures of ministering in London.
I had come back to the US for medical treatment on my hip and knee. Unfortunately, I developed a serious infection in my knee. About the same time Dad developed his own health issues and had to be hospitalized. I would go to his unit and the staff had a wheelchair set aside for me which I would get into and wheel up to his room. We spent a lot of pleasant moments wheel chairing together through the halls. Unfortunately, my infection had not yet been diagnosed and was becoming more serious every day and I would find my times shortened with him. I would leave him and go back to my daughter and son in law’s house and be cared for and pampered. I would leave him alone in his hospital room. He never complained but only expressed concern for my health and comfort.
In so many ways my father was a true gentleman in the fullest sense of the word.
My infection was eventually cured, and we returned to London only to find out that because of paperwork problems we had to leave the country and return to the US. Dad was never able to return to his assisted living apartment and instead had to go into a nursing care facility. His health and mental faculties were deteriorating but nothing seemed imminent.
Everything seemed to be holding steady with him and so we planned a trip to see family in the Chicago area. On the drive out I received a phone call from one of the nurses saying that they had reduced some of his pain medicine because he didn’t seem to be in distress and need it. We were happy for such a positive report. At 3:00 AM the next morning I received a phone call saying that he had died. Now there was comfort and hope because of his strong confidence and clear testimony of having Jesus as his Savior. We saw this as the ultimate relief from all his physical limitations, the opportunity to be reunited with his wife, and the fulfillment of what he had been looking forward to in Heaven.
There were some things that made an impact on me. I was going to miss him. I had the good memories of our visits together but wondered if maybe I could have made them more frequently. I was struck by the fact but now I was the oldest generation in the family. I didn’t look forward to all the work that was going to need to be done to settle his financial affairs and probate his will.
But what really bothered me what is that I had all good intentions of sitting down with my father when we returned from our Chicago trip and expressing to him how much I loved and appreciated him. Of telling him what an impact he had made on my life and the lives of my children. The problem was that he wasn’t there when I got back.
Well, this really bothered me for a while. Guilt, remorse, thinking about what a selfish and ungrateful son I had been. People tried to encourage me by reminding me of all the things I had done for my father, how certainly he must have known of my love, and how he always spoke so highly of me. They were right, and for me actions do speak louder than words, but I still felt a great loss because I couldn’t say the words to him now.
One night I had a dream. It was a very vivid and intense one. In it I dreamed that I had a chance to sit down with him and tell him the things that I’ve said in this blog but in much more detail. It was a really great conversation, not full of lots of goopy sentimentality, but a typical conversation of ours where we talked about facts and realities. I woke up feeling free and comforted.
So, what is the significance of this dream? I don’t know. I don’t believe that I was transported to Heaven or that his spirit came down to earth. I do hope that maybe in some way in Heaven he and my mother could have been holding hands and eavesdropping on my dream and hearing the things that I look forward to saying to him when I get to Heaven.
The main significance is that I hope I have learned to not wait for a better time to express love and appreciation to someone. The best time is now because that is the only time we can be sure of.