David L. Robbins
Novelist, Educator, Playwright, Essayist
A Dream, A Glimpse of Heaven (Native Son #13)
by David L. Robbins on May 19th, 2014

Recently, I had a remarkable dream.

I stood on a round platform, rising like a piston through a long gray tunnel. Far overhead, a blue button of sky waited.

I ascended alone and with no idea where I was headed; the dream didn’t tip me off. After what seemed a long ride up, my head and shoulders finally cleared the ground. The platform stopped, leaving me only halfway out of the tunnel.

Grass stretched in every direction to a horizon so clear I, even dreaming, remarked, “Wow. You can see a long way.”

I spun quickly to an answering voice. “Yes.”

On a park bench sat my father, elbows on knees. He wore his U.S. Army Air Corps khaki uniform, soft garrison cap in one hand, a cigar purling smoke from the other. He was maybe 26, before Pearl Harbor and the Pacific, before mom and multiple sclerosis, way before me.
I, by contrast, was still me: 57, and way after him.

Dad took one contemplating draw on the stogie. He beheld the upper half of me rising out of the emerald and perfect ground. His image was vivid in every detail, straight out of the sepia photos of him at that age, except he was in full color. His hair shined brown, hands large. Even sitting, I knew his legs were firm. I noted a lot of myself in his young face, a youth that I never saw during his life. He was 40 when I was born. He died in 1985.

Dad asked, “You alright?”


He nodded. We had a few more of my heartbeats to consider each other. He spoke no more. The fact that I was ‘alright’ seemed to satisfy. The platform under me dropped me away. The disk of sky grew distant.

In the long tunnel, I awoke, not wanting to find out just how far it intended to lower me.
I opened my eyes to a black and early bedroom, not groggy at all. I felt as if I’d just come in from the sun.

Excited, I ran through a battery of questions and insights about heaven, angels being allowed to pick their best age and form, cigars in heaven, grass in heaven implying there may also be dogs, and so on until I drifted back to sleep.

In the real light of morning, the dream remained dazzlingly clear but my epiphanies about heaven faded. Obviously I’d still been half-asleep with those revelations circling my head like an infant’s crib mobile.

One thought has stuck with me. In the dream, though I was more than twice my father’s age, he was still, instinctively, Dad. If I live to be a hundred, far outliving Sam Robbins, and his ghost appears beside my deathbed, I’ll greet him with “Hey, Dad.” He is forever my parent and senior to me. I am, therefore, forever younger.

I’m very fond of this notion. I draw a deep solace from it. That I am young. I am not an accumulation of many decades, not a collection of bits that increasingly don’t work like they used to. I am not a catalog of memories. I am not a voter, a fogy or an arrested development clown. I’m not out of touch, I’m not sore. I’m not disappointed in how some things have turned out. I don’t know people who had poor experiences of me. I don’t have dead friends. I’m not someone’s ex and I am not an orphan.

I’m my father’s boy. I have promise like I always did. I have to make the people who love me proud of me. I have to earn trust and win the day. I have to get up when knocked down because that was how I was raised. I have homework.

If heaven exists, and my father, mom, dog and pals are young there, then they watch me with young eyes and expectations.

I’m not unrealistic. It was a dream. I get it. But for those imagined moments in my father’s presence, I was reminded of innocence and dependence, of being someone’s child. We have all been that. We are all still that.

Posted in Boomer Mag, Boomer Articles    Tagged with boomer magazine, native son, richmond, dream, father


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