We have a WhatsApp chat group in the family that we share stories and photos of my late father in, to help us cope with our grieving in the last 5 months since my dad has passed. Quite often, my sisters would write about how they dreamed of my father while they were sleeping, and relate to the rest of us the scene, the other people in the dream, what was said, and try and determine through his demeanour and appearance whether he was doing okay or if he needed anything.
After quite a number of these dream-sharing sessions in the group chat, someone suddenly asked a few days ago (I assume without considering that it might hit a nerve):
Y winston is rarely in anyone’s dream ah? *ponder*
It bears noting that of the entire family, I have thus far showed the least emotion for my father’s passing. There is no question I loved my father, but I would like to believe that my father and I have enough of a mutual understanding (especially in the last year or so of his life) such that we could part with little regret. Besides, I figure my mother and sisters have their hands full enough with their own personal grieving, so I’m not inclined to add to their burden unnecessarily.
Perhaps this explains why I do not feature in my family’s thoughts all that much, much less dreams. As I trust that my father loved me, I am also confident my mother and sisters have me in their hearts as well, not to mention they’re also confident I can take care of myself. Besides, the quality of their dream-time with my father is thus much better without me in there providing the usual snarky distraction I do when we have family gatherings.
On the flipside, my father has all but appeared in my dreams just once since he passed. Although this bothered me for a while, I figured out why pretty quickly.
The past few months, the Mother of Xander has noticed I’ve taken to driving like the old man, right down to the car accessories I use, inspired by my dad’s own habits; we’ve got headrest attachments for bags and shopping, and I have free-rotating knob on my steering wheel so I can steer like a bus driver.
My entire family has been laughing at and actively using the same corny sense of humour my father had every time we talk, with each other and with others. It’s kept our spirits up during this trying time, and reminded us that this was what our father would do with us when he was around, too; make us laugh.
During my father’s funeral wake, my father’s friends and former colleagues have all remarked how much I look and talk like the old man; in fact, they noted various nuances of our resemblances to him, and various character traits and habits like distinct facial features (apparently he gave us different parts of his face), loud, aggressive demeanour, no-nonsense attitude, strong sense of justice and empathy for others.
I believe this to be the reason why he doesn’t come visit me in my dreams. He probably doesn’t feel the need to, considering I still see him every day, as I’ve seen him every day ever since I’ve learned to make sense of the world.
I see him in the homes we’ve each made for ourselves, in my sisters whom he’s inspired, when I’m driving my car, in myself when I look in the mirror. I see him in my own children, when Xander remembers him and talks to his portrait hanging in our living room, and when I stroke Yvie’s head while she looks at me curiously; her hair is as soft as I remember my dad’s was, in his final days when I reached out to comfort him in his hospital bed.
Despite appearances, I have been grieving; it shows most obviously in the infrequency and dearth of good mood in the posts here on The Blogfather since my father’s passing. I’ve had a couple of private moments at home where I’d break down for seemingly no reason, and I’m glad I have the Mother of Xander with me during those occasions.
I first decided to write this thinking it would help answer the question about the dreams with my dad and my apparent lack of participation in them (like I can bloody control these things, pffft). But as I finish this second last sentence, I realise I needed to write this for myself and my siblings more than anyone else. Knowing what I know now, I guess now is as a good time as any for me – for us – to move on.
And this is what I know: my father is still with us; he is survived by us, his children, and his grandchildren. He is us, and we are him, and he lives for as long as we do, and as long as we will remember him. And believe me, the old man made sure it would be damn hard to forget him.
So we keep laughing. We keep loving. We keep going, for him and for each other, so he’ll keep living in us, with us.