My father died last October. My mother died in 1982, some thirty years before. For many years I have had dreams in which I have seen my mother alive. Almost always, she is alive on this earth, and she has not yet died.
Now, a few weeks ago, I dreamed of both my parents for the first time.
They were at a banquet, seated among the other guests along a long narrow dinner table draped in white cloth. I scanned the guests until my eyes came upon my father. He got up, walked around the end of the table and greeted me warmly. He was wearing the black-rimmed glasses I had first known him to wear–the glasses he wore until the early 80s or so, when that classic midcentury style finally gave way to less worthy designs. He was more physically fit than I remember him ever being.
I continued my scan of the guests and was utterly delighted to come upon my mother. What a surprise! It was as though my psyche had prepared this as a Dad dream and was now thrilled to see Mom thrown in for good measure. But I wondered whether Mom would recognize me after so long a lapse of years. “I’m your son–Tony,” I told her helpfully, placing my right hand on my chest to confirm the identification. “I know you’re my son,” she replied, playfully, “I’m your mother!” She was genuinely happy–happier than I remember her in her last years, which were filled with worry about her children.
That was about all that happened in my dream. This is typical for me. My dreaming mind contemplates the meaning of a few very simple scenes. With so little action, my dreams would make bad movies, to be sure.
My daughter has suggested that I was not dreaming but participating in an actual heavenly banquet attended by my parents. This notion has much theological charm to recommend it. Catholics believe that the Mass is a participation in an eternally occurring heavenly liturgy. And it is pleasing to think that we humans could participate via our dreams in an event transpiring in heaven–especially an event involving our loved ones in the full bloom of eternal life.
In any case, if I did not see my parents at a heavenly banquet a few weeks ago, I remain hopeful that someday I shall.