A Conversation With Dad

“Hey, Dad. You’re invading my dreams again.”
“It’s Father’s Day. Wanted to stop by and share best wishes.”
“It’s been four years, two months and two days since you died. You look a lot better than I feel.”
“That body was getting unmanageable. Glad to shed it.”
“Did you get an answer to the big question about an after-life?”
“And you’re not going to tell me?”
“So, for all I know, you could be my own mind talking to itself; a grand illusion.”
“There are many illusions.”
“Any you can share?”
“The illusion that the past matters.”
“You told me that people judge on a lifetime body of work and not one incident.”
“I said that to comfort you in your time of trial. You have to admit it’s a pretty solid argument.”
“But you don’t believe it now?”
“I believe that renewal is possible every day. It’s what you do in the now that matters.”
“But what about the people who look us up on the internet and value us based on what they see?”
“The internet is irrelevant, except to the extent you can use it to alleviate the suffering of others.”
“What about the hate and the lies it foments in susceptible minds?”
“People believe what they choose to believe.”
“And if they are in positions of power where they can negatively impact your present moment?”
“Ignore them. Do good anyway. They are hurting inside and need role models. Be one.”
“Is it really that simple?”
“It’s really that simple. Everyone is hurting. Everyone needs to discover purpose and receive the affirmation that they can connect purpose to passion and passion to action. Model that behavior to empower others to model it, and you will make a difference.”
“You sound like a motivational speaker.”
“Far from it. Just stating a universal law.”
“What if I still make mistakes?”
“Mistakes are the mortar that cements the foundation of experience to build character on a daily basis. Is Hudson still into Minecraft?”
“How do you know about that. It wasn’t a thing until after you died?”
“Just answer the question.”
“He watches it on YouTube. I think he’s into Animal Crossing now.”
“Life is a cycle of construction and destruction. We make progress on important things and there are setbacks. Remember your conversation with Penny tonight?”
“You were there?”
“What did she say about the pendulum.”
“That black people are wary of progress because the political pendulum always swings back in the other direction.”
“Keep building. Keep pressing forward. Keep doing the little things that lighten the loads of others. If enough of humanity follows your lead, that pendulum won’t swing so far in the other direction.”
“You’re saying don’t look back.”
“Only if you need a refresher on a lesson learned.”
“Since you’ve been gone, the world feels out of control.”
“Another illusion. The only thing you can control is how you react to the cards the world deals you.”
“Like being part of the Moderna test?”
“Exactly. I was proud of you for doing that one.”
“How is mom?”
“Teaching reading to struggling kids, just like before.”
“Kids struggle to read in heaven?”
“Someone in your world is modeling her behavior because they saw her doing it. They were inspired by her example and are picking up where she left off.”
“You’re not going to give me any information about heaven or hell or those metaphors religion foists on us to get us to behave, are you?”
“You can create whatever illusions you need to drive you in the direction of your purpose.”
“Another non-answer.”
“Another truth. Love in the name of god or a church is good. Love in the name of compassion for relieving human suffering is the exact same thing.”
“Have you been following the news? Our children are being killed and the same people who are against women having reproductive rights are silent about gun control? The foundations of our democracy are shaking because forces are trying to invalidate elections unless they win.”
“How is that different from when you were growing up?”
“It feels much closer to the surface, with a critical mass of supporters who have the anger and the potential to destroy democracy.”
“What are you doing to protect the people and concepts you hold dear?”
“Sheesh! After sixty-seven years, I still have to fight these battles? I’m tired, dad. We marched in support of Dr. King, women’s rights, ending the Vietnam war. Will this cycle of protest never end?”
“Nope. Concepts we claim as self-evident, inalienable rights are always under siege. Do what you can, when you can, where you can. And try to get a good night’s sleep.”
“Is there a God.”
“There is a god (small g) within you. It knows what’s right and wrong. It shows you the way. If you follow that way, this life is heaven. If you ignore it, this life is hell.”
“You’re depressing me, dad.”
“I don’t mean to. Understanding the rules of the universe opens the door to how you can serve its best interest. That means a few nightmares and doing unpleasant things that are the right things. Never give in. Never surrender.”
“I don’t remember you ever seeing the film, Galaxy Quest.”
“Did someone steal my line?”
“Or visa versa.”
“I need to go now, son. It’s almost 1am and you need some sleep so you can do battle for good in the morning.”
“I miss you, dad. I’m glad you’re not hear to witness the terrifying things we’ve had to deal with since you died. But I wish you were still around so I could get our advice and know the right things to do.”
“You know exactly what to do, son.”
“I guess I do. I’ll try.”
“That’s all we can ask. Give it your best shot today. Whatever happens, there is always tomorrow.”
“Until your body can’t contain your spirit anymore?”
“And then, someone else will step up. Inspire them by your example.”
“You’re fading away, dad. Will I see you again?”
“I’m always here. You just can’t always see me.”
“That’s comforting and scary at the same time.”
“I don’t judge, son. I just love you. That’s the most important of human skills. I hope you understand that and can pass my love on.”
“Most days. Some days I want to punch people in the nose.”
“If that moves you in the direction of your purpose, go right ahead. But remember the action and opposite reaction law.”
“OK, I’ll try.”
“You’re a good dad. You were a great son. I’m sorry for your suffering and wish I could be there to help.”
“You already have, dad. I love you. Happy Father’s Day.”
“Same to ya, kiddo. Hug those kids and grand babies kiss the kids and tell Colleen what a great mom she is.”
“You know about Juliette?”
“She and Hudson are wonderful creations. Love on them every chance you get.”
“Where are you off to, now?”
“Judy, Mom and I have lunch with about eight generations of your ancestors. I want to ask your great, great grandfather what he thought when he saw his first Model-T. If you see Marcia, tell her Ron and Jan look great and are proud of her, Mark, too.”
“You’re either confirming the existence of an after life or messing with my head.”
“Either way, think of the possibilities! Get some sleep. Enjoy the Thai food with Dänna. And finish Jess 3.0. Mom and I want to know how it comes out.”