Dream of: 24 October 1997 "Lifesaver"

My father and I were standing on an overlook of the Ohio River at Portsmouth. Pointing below us, I indicated a strip of land which ran parallel to the edge of the river. I thought I had previously walked along the strip, which harbored pleasant wooded trails leading down to the shore of the river. I suggested to my father that he and I descend to the area of the strip and walk across it until we reached the shore of the river. He agreed and we descended.

When we reached the strip of land which we had been viewing from above, we found it far different from what I had imagined. Instead of finding a pleasant forest with trails, we soon found ourselves in the middle of a dense tropical jungle, almost impenetrable, with no trails in sight. Uncertain which way to proceed, I noticed an enormous tree in front of me, with boughs of waxy green leaves hanging to the ground. I led my father to the tree and we pushed our way through the drooping leaves until we reached a tent-like area underneath the tree which formed a canopy above us.

At least the way was passable in that area, and we now seemed to be treading in the right direction. We passed on under the tree and emerged into an area still dense with vegetation, but at least penetrable. I was particularly struck by the many different types of fruit hanging in profusion from the trees. I knew fruit in tropical jungle regions tasted much sweeter than fruit from the northern latitudes, and I thought I might sample some. First I saw a bunch of yellow plantains and thought of trying those, but finally I decided on a soft round fruit, about the size of an apple, with a satiny pink skin. I peeled off part of the skin and took a bite. However I quickly spat out the fruit; it wasn't sweet at all, almost tasteless, and I realized it might even be unhealthy.

As we continued to plow through the vegetation, I suddenly saw a stream in front of us. The stream was perhaps ten meters across, with rapidly moving water. I had completely forgotten about this stream, although now that I saw it I remembered it. I knew that the stream ran parallel to the Ohio River, and that the stream must first be crossed in order to reach the Ohio River. However, I also knew there was no ford, and I thought we would have to turn back.

Then I was surprised to see that someone had employed large rocks – each rock about a meter wide – to make a stepping rock bridge across the stream. The stepping bridge was nicely built, except some of the huge rocks were a little too low, and water was washing over them. And in one spot was a gap where a rock was lacking, allowing the water to rush through like a surging rapid.

I surveyed the rock bridge, trying to judge whether we could pass over it. If we were careful, we would probably still be able to step on the rocks which had water flowing over them, and to jump over the space where the one rock was missing. Since I was barefoot, and my father was wearing shoes, I thought it would be safer if I went first, and I told my father to follow me. Ignoring me, however, my father impetuously jumped out on the first rock ahead of me. There was nothing I could do as he rushed ahead across the rocks, lost his balance and slipped, falling into the deep pool of water on the downstream side of the rock bridge.

I was aghast. The water was so clear, I could see his body sinking toward the bottom, five or six meters below the surface. I expected him to make some effort to pull himself back to the surface, but when he simply continued to sink, I dove head-first into the water after him. By the time I reached him, he had sunk to the bottom and had slid back under some large rocks at the bottom of the stream. I stuck my hand under the rocks, hoping to reach him, and suddenly I felt his hand. Still alive, he grabbed my hand. Strengthening my grasp, I pulled him from under the rock, and began towing him back toward the surface.

We broke through to the air. I had saved him! Thinking that he would have drowned if I hadn't acted seemed strange. I had never thought I would be in a situation where I would save my own father's life, but it had happened and I felt good about it.

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