Most poignant was being with my father, who now remembers little and says only a few words. About eight decades ago when he was young and adventuresome, dad’s dreams took him to California, where he served in the Navy and later met my mother. Eventually his dreams drew him to the vast stretches of land known as the Imperial Valley. It was there that he toiled into the night and began a family.
When dad was 34, though, his dreams left him – for a while. A farming accident took his arm and with it, his hopes for building a future for his children. Eventually, time helped him realize that he could learn to use one hand when two were needed. And with that, he began to dream again.
Being with my father brought back so many memories, but more than the images that surfaced, I understood differently. As a child, dad was bigger than life; he could do anything and would do anything to help his family. I did not see his dreams then; I did not know his worries. It was only later when I had my own family that I saw both – through my own dreams and worries.
Dad now rests in a hospital bed, where life is quietly leaving him. He is between worlds, and I wonder, does he dream of either? Sometimes he calls out to a brother or sister who has predeceased him, and I think, yes, he is dreaming of the life that awaits him.
When I visited this time, I asked mom for something of dad’s that I could hold near. Together we searched through his dresser and found, to her surprise and mine, the watch dad was wearing when his dreams were taken. Like my father’s arm, it did not survive the blades of the combine. But, broken and battered, it honors dreams – the before and after dreams of tragedies.
And so it is that this forgotten timepiece, now encased and displayed, is a reminder for me of a life well lived, of the power of dreams, of the resilience of the human spirit.
Thank you Dad!