Dreams Of Parents And A Neon Sign

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I have been dreaming about my parents lately. My dad passed away 10 years ago, and my mom followed two years later. No matter the age, like all sons and daughters who had loving parents, I miss them. So the dreams

are pleasant reminders of my parents, though like most dreams, they rarely make much sense.

For example, the other night I dreamed I was standing with my parents in my dad’s studio — a carport converted not long after we moved to South Twelfth Street in 1968. My dad handed me a 12-gauge shotgun and said he wasbequeathing it to me. My mom watched while holding Rosie, one of our dogs in real life.

Two things struck me when I awoke: my dad never owned a shotgun, just a bolt-action, single-shot .22 rifle. And my mom did not really like dogs. My childhood pet in New Hampshire was a hound named Sandy, who had to be put down when I was about 7. One day my dad took Sandy away, and she never returned. Then, one of my elementary school teachers talked my mother into taking her Airedale, named King William George and called Willie.

That dog was a prime example of inbreeding. He was flat crazy, eating my glasses one of the first nights inside, an entire T-shirt after that. My brother and I used to call him when he was outside and then close the storm door. Willie would run slap into it every time, which we found hilarious then. Now, it’s not so funny. Eventually, Willie was confined to a doghouse and chained outside, which I abhorred then and now. He died not long after. That was the last pet we had as kids.

In college at SFA I worked for a time as an animal control officer (a fancy term for a dogcatcher). I smuggled a cocker spaniel out and brought it to my mom. I had to, because my yard was filled with already-smuggled dogs. Friends were beginning to shun me for fear I would foist yet another pooch upon them.

“This is Susie,” I said. “Your new dog.” She accepted her grudgingly. Once Susie went to that great Kennel in the Sky, that was the last pet my parents owned.


The other day, my Beautiful Mystery Companion decided it was time to move some items around in the house — a precursor to spring cleaning. Wisely, I readily put myself at her disposal. We moved a small, shabby-chic glass cabinet that contains my modest collection of old camera equipment — Polaroids, my mom’s Brownie, some 4×5 film backs — from the spare bedroom into the den. Perched on top is a neon sign that says, simply “Rambler.” My dad had a friend of his — a Longview glassblower and signpainter named Rio Bridwell — make it for me when I ran the San Augustine Rambler in the mid-1980s. I have carted that sign all over Texas and even to Kansas during my many moves. Somehow it has remained intact. My dad, also a signpainter and artist, did a fine pencil sketch of Rio performing his magic, blowing glass.

I plugged the sign in. To my delight, it still worked. But after a few minutes, the light began flickering rather annoyingly. I forgot that the sign did that. After more than three decades I decided it was time to fix the problem, so I went on eBay and bought a replacement transformer for $10. I want to be able to turn on that Rambler neon sign and enjoy the orange glow in the corner of the den. Besides, the cats are fascinated by it.


            Speaking of dreams, it has been a few years since I had the dream where I arrive in a college classroom and realize this is the day of the final exam, and I have somehow forgotten to attend class all semester. I have dreamt this at least 20 times since college. Apparently, the Forgot To Go To Class Dream has been replaced with dreams of my deceased parents popping up in unlikely places, doing unlikely things. At least for now. Dreams are hard to predict, even harder to explain.

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