I'm knocking on the door to my Mom's new place in Virginia, except that it looks like a cross between the old 1946 single-story brick home I grew up in in Dallas and the modern build-em-quick type she lives in now. It's overcast and cold. I'm wearing a sweater she knitted for me. My Dad answered the door. That's the freaky part. He's been dead for over a year.
How's it going, friendly fellow?!
"Hey, aren't you supposed to be dead?"
He doesn't say anything, but he leads me down a long hall that empties in to a kitchen. He's whistling and wearing blue-and-white striped short-sleeved and short-pants pajamas despite the chill. The hall and kitchen are all dark wood. Around a long table stand my two younger sisters and Mom. They handle pieces of clothing. I think they are knitting, but I can't tell.
Hi Ta-ta, they all say.
I ask them the same question. "Isn't he supposed to be dead?"
I just pop in every so often.
He does this all the time, Mom says. Strolls right in when we're least expecting it. The first few times it was just spooky, and then it became endearing and sweet. But now, he's just a pain in the ass.
He walks by again, whistling and making a silly face.
Yeah, my youngest sister says. He comes in and watches TV and changes the channel to the History Channel or CNN. And then he'll rattle some ice in his glass and ask for a splashy. It's getting a little irritating.
He looks better, that's for sure, I think. There's meat on his bones, a bit of a pot belly on matchstick legs. It's the Dad of my highschool years, sunlightened hair, a hale fellow, well met. He could sell water to fish.
Do you think you could call the Grateful Dead the Appreciative Deceased?
Would you please leave now? someone says.
He comes over to me and shrugs his shoulders.
Well, Ta, it was good seeing you. He's smiling broadly.
It was good seeing you too Dad, I say. I lift my hand to pat him on the back, expecting to feel bone and skin and muscle through the thin fabric. Instead, my hand passes right through him.
He cocks his head as if to say What did you expect?
That's when I wake up, heart beating a little faster but feeling glad that he's apparently doing OK.
A few weeks later, my seven-year-old son told me he had the same dream.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. Come visit me anytime.