I Remember Dad: The Precious Gift of Night Dreams

By Richard Mabey Jr.

The old red barn that my dad and I built back in the Summer of 1972. This is a photo of the barn taken in the Summer of 1996. Beneath the maple tree, on the right-hand side of the barn, is where the picnic table was located, back in 1972.

From time to time, I find myself reflecting upon the actual journey of my walk to tell the story of my good father’s life. My greatest inspiration is to teach people that even after a loved one has passed away, the relationship with that loved one is not over. I’ve been reluctant to talk about and write about this concept and idea. At times, it can be very controversial. But, sadly, it seems that we may be living in a time and era where controversy tends to be the norm.

I often have these dreams where my beloved father and I will be working together. One specific dream, that is quite repetitive, is where my Dad and I are building our barn in the backyard of the old Mabey Homestead. These series of dreams that I have had for over a decade now, are simply a reflection of the Summer of 1972, when Dad and I built the old red barn from scratch. 

For me, it was very therapeutic to build this barn with my Dad. I had just completed my first year of college. Sadly, I had just broken up with my girlfriend, Penny, whom I had dated all through my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. There was a certain sadness weaved throughout the fibers and chambers of my heart.

It was also a time of anticipation. I had applied for the position of Feature Editor for my college newspaper, of which I had served as a dedicated reporter, throughout my freshman year. I was to find out in September whether I would be promoted to the position of Feature Editor. 

The dreams that I have, where my Dad and I are building the old red barn, are incredibly real. Sometimes, I will awaken in the middle of the night, after having this dream and feel the presence of my dad in my bedroom. It is a rather unsettling feeling. To me it brings the concept of another existence beyond this physical world, to a greater height of reality.

I remember one particular Saturday afternoon, beneath the hot sun of early July, Dad and I took a break from the sawing and hammering of wooden beams and boards, of building our red barn. My mom and my little sister, Patti, came outside and began walking to where my dad and I were working. My mom carried a pitcher of pink lemonade, with an array of ice cubes floating about the top. And, my sister carried four paper cups. 

We all sat at the picnic table beneath the old maple tree, beside the site where we were building our red barn. The shade of the tall maple tree, the cold lemonade and the chance to sit down for a rest, were all so welcomed to my heart and inner being. I remember so very well, my mom telling my dad and I that we were doing a good job, building our barn.

This quiet, simple, unassuming moment has most recently become a recurring night dream for me. My mom recently passed away, just two days before this most recently past Christmas. In my recurring dream, I hear my mom telling my dad and I that we were doing a good job building our barn. In the midst of my night dream, it brings comfort to my mourning heart.

Although I do my best to spend some time every day, to read scripture, I am by no means an expert on the Holy Bible, nor on religious doctrine. But I do believe that there is an infinite wisdom guiding the universe. And, I believe that comfort is often granted upon us by God, in the medium of our night dreams. 

My dad and I did complete the building of our red barn that summer of 1972. I remember when it was completed, Dad took off his old baseball cap and wiped the sweat from his brow with his handkerchief. We both took a few steps back from the front of the newly built, red barn and Dad simply said, “we did a good job, Richie. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

I am not an expert on human relations. But, it saddens me when I hear parents complain about their children and vice versa. I think there are three key elements that are incredibly important to maintaining good, healthy relationships with loved ones, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Those three essential elements are: forgiveness, forgiveness and forgiveness.

Love is the single most powerful force in the universe. It can shatter the emotions of hate, jealousy, envy and anger. Love can move mountains. 

Richard is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com

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