Originally uploaded by podso.
Last night I dreamed about my father. It was one of those vivid dreams that stay with you into daylight. I call my mother every day and this time my dad answered the phone. It was good to hear his voice, but confusing. "Daddy, is that you? Why are you there?" "I'm here because I'm here," he gave one of his typical confusing-for-fun responses in a cheerful voice. "Where's mom?" I questioned again. "Oh, she's here cooking up a storm." I could hear the clink of kitchen noise in the background and a lilt to my mother's voice as I heard her speak to Dad. Everything seemed right again. Of course she was cooking; she loved to cook when she had someone (a particular someone especially) to cook for. Then I woke up. Of course, disappointed that I couldn't finish the dream and understand what was going on.
I thought of my father several hours later when I was walking the track. I'm a fast walker and always have been. My legs are long and I try to stretch to the max and get my heart rate up. I don't think anyone ever passes me, no matter what their age or shape. Again I thought of how my father taught me to walk fast. Even when my little legs could not match his stride, I would try. Look into a journal entry I wrote soon after he went to heaven:
"Today, enroute to Good Will with some of Dad's clothes, I stopped at the cemetery to look at his grave. His everyday shoes were in the back seat of the car, and as I looked over at the mound of fresh dirt marking his earthly remains, I couldn't help but think he no longer needed those shoes; such rest and peace he now had. He also had peace from my continual saying "Big steps, dad."
"When I "cruise" the halls of the hospital or my neighborhood or a shopping mall, I am always reminded of my father. As a child, a big treat was running the few blocks from our home to church to walk back with Daddy for his lunch break. My little legs stretched to keep up with his long strides, and thus I became a fast walker.
"Dad walked fast until old age and the cruel disease of Alzheimer's began to chip away at him. In recent years, his pace became shuffled and unsteady, with tiny steps. I took him for a walk when
I would visit, and often nagged him to take big steps. When reminded, he would, but then would quickly forget. Workers in the care center chimed in with my "Big steps, Dad." My eyes were always focused on those brown shoes. (Imagine, I was proud that my dad, in spite of his disease, could still tie his own shoes!)
"I drove up to Good Will and gave the shoes to the man; he seemed gentle. Did he know the significance of what I was doing? I found I could not put the car in drive and leave. I watched as he dumped my dad's familiar shirts and pants in the bin. Away they went, absorbed into a pile of clothes, though his old green vintage tennis warm up outfit was hard to disguise. And the shoes, sitting way atop a pile of other shoes, did not sink into the pile at all. They were there for me to see. I finally started to drive away ever so slowly; my head turning to watch those shoes, shining in the sun, soon to be worn by someone else looking for a bargain. I rounded the corner, taking one final, tear-filled look. They were still there, so silent and still, yet so full of memories. What do they wear on their feet in heaven?"