My father didn’t believe in bedtime.

Often my brothers and I would stay up with my father, who was either playing his guitar or watching M*A*S*H. We’d huddle at the dining room table around a small T.V. until 2 in the morning.

I don’t remember if I actually enjoyed watching M*A*S*H, yet I have a fondness for it simply because of this memory. Plus, when you didn’t have cable you watch whatever came on.

My father didn’t have a lot of rules for us, much to the despair of my mother. He let us stay up, watch whatever, and even showed us the atrocity that is Faces of Death (if you’re familiar, you’re probably a little scarred from it, too.)

We grew up on stories about “The Man with the Golden Arm,” and did we know that a lady died in the house before we lived there? She had no arms or legs, so she got around by pulling herself by her chin. As he told us this he’d knock on the wall, “Thump,” her chin hitting down, then his nails scratched down the wall, “drag,” her pulling her chin under and dragging her body forward.

Is it no wonder we all slept in my parents room for quite a long time?

He told us this recurring dream he had. It happened while living at the house we watched M*A*S*H at 2 a.m. in. That’s important because it was a small, powder blue house that was extremely creepy to walk around in at night. Our kitchen led into a dining room that led into a laundry room. If we needed to go into the laundry room at night, one by one we’d switch the kitchen light on, the dining room light on, and finally the laundry room light on.

But since I’ve told you about Thump Drag, it’s not really surprising we took such precaution.

But this dream. He had the strangest dreams, and this one he believes to be symbolic.

Here’s how it goes.

He’s in the bedroom looking out the window and he sees a shadow of a man near a tree that was a few feet from the curb. The next night he has the same dream, but the shadow man has moved closer to the house. The next night, closer. The next he’s on the porch, the next he’s in the house, in the hallway outside of my father’s bedroom.

The next day he finds out he has diabetes (Type 1).

But his next favorite story to regale the family with when we’re all together he swears wasn’t a dream.

When we didn’t huddle in the dining room to watch T.V. we watched it in the living room on a pallet. This specific night my father says (I was much too young to remember) that he laid down on the pallet, my three brothers in front of him, and me in the front of them. Some time in the night when the T.V. went static and we were all fast asleep my father felt a tap on his shoulder. He woke up an arm pointed over his shoulder towards the T.V.

He turned it off and went back to sleep. In the morning he realized it couldn’t have been us tapping on his shoulder because we were still laid out in front of him.