Today a friend I’ve known for many years and went to school with posted a set of photos on every body’s favorite social network. As I have already mentioned in one of this year’s blogs 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of my high school graduating class. It seems strange because I remember the night in the late 1980s when my parents dropped my brother and I off at the baby sitter’s on the way to my father’s 20th reunion. Time truly waits for no man.
As I sat looking at that picture that same weird mixture of thoughts, emotions and feelings that always comes up when I see a picture of myself before the injury. It seems that much of my life is often defined that way, the boy before the injury and the man after, and how different they truly are. There I sit, trying to literally convince myself that the boy without a clue in the photo is actually, or ever really was me.
A few years ago I began having a recurring dream, usually about once or twice a week. The dream usually takes on 1 of 2 themes. One, I dream I am literally back in time in my body, in the exact clothes I wore and in the same social situations. The only difference was I have my thirty-something head full of so-called knowledge to make a somewhat more informed decision. Just when I am about to do the right thing in that pivotal, life-changing moment… I wake up. Then there’s scenario number two… I dream I am an adult as I am now, and I appear to myself as a young man ready to give the golden key of wisdom that will somehow change my future like some science fiction movie. Funny thing, I wake up before I can warn that young man. It has become so common that even in the deepest sleep I have come, in a flash of lucidity, to recognize the moment I am dreaming. I then hurriedly stammer to get out what I want to say.
Today as I studied that photo I realized it was Father’s Day. It makes me wonder what my Dad feels when he sees an old photo of himself. What would he say if he saw that photo of me? What kind of fear, frustration and urgency did he feel in those very real days when I was 13, 14, 15… what kinds of words did he struggle with? I’m sure he had his own dreams for me, not of the past, but for the future. Hopeful dreams. I imagine they paled in comparison to the words he struggled to find when I awoke from the anesthesia knowing I never would walk with my graduating class. What words would stick in his throat when years later in my anger and frustration with my suffering I would lash out at him looking for someone or something to blame and say things I regret till this day. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but whose words? The photographer? The subject? The viewer? What are those words worth?
I still consider myself a young man. I have been fortunate enough to come to terms with the memories of that young man in that photo. I have been blessed to apply some of the words my father did share with me. Think for yourself. Say what you mean. Look’em in the eye when you talk to them. Don’t answer questions that haven’t been asked. I am blessed to have reconciled what differences we have had over the years and know my father not just as “Dad”, but as my friend. I hope that when he looks back over the past he feels peace knowing that everything turned out alright. I hope he knows that it was not lost on deaf ears and that his acts of love and affection, his love for nature and living things, his passion for music and his desire to live honestly have helped me live through the difficulties of spinal cord injury.
I don’t have a time machine, but I’m lucky that I do have more time. More time to do the right thing, do it right and do it because it’s it is right. Hopefully if I ever have children I will find the words and actions to help them do the same so that one day, when they look back they will know they did not waste this time here we call life.
So to all the fathers worthy of the title, and most all to you Dad, Happy Father’s Day.
Thanks for reading.