I Saw My Father in a Dream


By Mary Beth Haines, Ph.D.

Faculty, College of Integrative Medicine & Health Sciences
Saybrook University

I saw my father in a dream

And he said to me “Someday,

when you have been teaching a while,

come back to me, and I will teach you

about coffee.”  And we will sit

down there at a table in the afternoon

sun, with our coffee cups,

where we will join in the real

business of teaching:

the conversation of equals.


Artist's statement: I wrote the poem when I was in grad school. My father, who was a college professor, had been dead for almost 16 years. I had this very vivid dream one afternoon during a relatively short nap in which the events of the poem took place. I had no idea at the time that I would become a college instructor myself. My dad had several friends who were also teachers, at both the college and high school levels, and they would occasionally gather and have long conversations about teaching over coffee.

What I hope the reader gains from this is that it is the desire of every college or university instructor to get to a place with students where they are interacting as equals, equals in understanding, equals in contribution, equals in value. There is an inherent power imbalance between instructors and students, and those of us who teach long for that time when we can connect on that level playing field, just as we as students, which I was at the time, long for that time, too.

Just as instructors long to interact with their students as equals, parents also look forward to working together with their adult children as adults, as equals, perhaps with different ideas, but with similar caring and passion. This is something else we encourage as a Saybrook value. This connection and caring can go on even after losing a parent.