I was raised by a dreamer who wanted to save energy.

Maybe that’s why I love the whole idea of alternative energy: wind, sun, squirrels running in wheels, dog sleds. When I drive from Minnesota to Missouri, one of my favorite stretches is passing the wind farms in Iowa. There is a peacefulness to the turbines turning in the wind and generating power to heat or cool homes, to keep schools and hospitals operating. They are saving humanity from a dark world. They are our friends. Or are they?

Source: http://www.xkcd.com

The Impossible Dream?

The reason I traveled to Missouri so much was because my 82-year-old father lived in an assisted living home there. It took me about ten hours grinding through the flatness of Iowa and the daredevil, bumper-to-bumper traffic of St. Louis. I burned energy all the way.

Once there, we talked about his health and how the Cardinals were doing. He had taken Alzheimer’s medication for years so the conversation often followed twisted paths. However, it always, always, stopped at one place: his energy-efficient, insulated wall systems. This was his BIG dream, the windmill he could not pass without stopping. He slept with this dream and jousted with it when he was awake, making drawings on a tablet by his easy chair.

I have heard this dream a million times. Parts of it are real; he did have a new patent for the wall system and it was revolutionary. Parts of it have yet to materialize: “I’m going to sell this wall system and leave my girls a good inheritance,” my father always said.

To a farm boy turned general contractor turned inventor providing for family was important. He also was proud of what he had accomplished, that the US Department of Energy had given him an award for his wall system. For years, this dream gave him purpose.

Why do some people give up on their dreams so easily, while others, like my father, hold on with the tenacity of a snapping turtle? Watching the other elderly residents stream into the dining hall pushing walkers and wheelchairs, I wondered what their dreams were and I hoped they came true. If not, I hope they were still dreaming. Because dreams aren’t just for the young. They keep us alive in places where we go at the end of our lives.

It’s like in the movie Hugo. Everything must have a purpose, even human beings. So don’t give up on your “silly” dreams or “impossible” ones, no matter how old you are or how much money you have or how many aches and pains you wake up with in the morning.

And if you want to buy a wall system, give me a call.


My father passed away in December 2012. But every time I read this piece I think of him and other dreamers and how grateful I am that the world has dreamers.