I’d been thinking a lot about Dad over the past week, especially since it would have been his birthday last Saturday. I imagine it was these thoughts that led to a dream the other night. I don’t usually remember my dreams, and even less seldom do I share them with others.

I’m not sure my memories of it are sketchy or the dream itself was hazy. My dream was composed of little snapshots that seemed to merge the distant and more recent past. The location was certain: my parent’s house. But the people present were fuzzy, most likely my brothers and sister, my mom maybe. There could have been others.

At one point in the second-to-last snapshot, my dad announced he was leaving with no more significance than he normally would have when leaving for work or the store. What did he so often say? “You got the fort” or “Catch ya later.” Of course, many times he didn’t say anything, just put on his well-worn cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses and walked out the door. This time he did say goodbye, or something to that effect. My family replied with goodbyes of their own, but I followed him out the front door, somehow knowing it’d be the last time I’d see him.

The final scene was set in our garage—rather, our carport, which we’d converted into a garage long ago. It was a carport this time, likely because that’s mostly what I remember growing up. (Like the time I discovered what car battery acid felt like. Why was that battery lying around anyway? Or the time we built my red toy box. Or the one and only time I played with matches.) Dad’s specs removed, I looked into his blue eyes (which they used to be, before they turned more like gray), and I asked him to tell me he loved me. And he did. I don’t remember if he addressed me as Matt or Son, just that he said, “I love you.” And that was it. Dream over.

I honestly don’t ever recall Dad telling me that he loved me. In his own way he did acknowledge my musical abilities. “Not bad for a white boy,” he used to say. The sound of that phrase, even in my own mind, incites tears. I can hear his voice as though through the ear buds I so often use. If I could keep the ear buds in my ears forever, I would, so I could keep hearing him say those words. No, he didn’t say I love you, but I know he did. And by God’s grace, I finally heard him say those words the other night. I’m grateful for that gift. Could You keep sending more?

3 thoughts on “Not Bad for a White Boy

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