I’m not sure if dad’s vivid nightmares began before or after the haunted hotel experience. Growing up, I remember both my mom and I being frightened by the screams and moans my dad would make when he was suffering from a particularly bad nightmare. I’m sure it was not fun for my mom to be awakened by my dad’s thrashing and yelling. She said sometimes it would take her quite awhile to wake him. He then would bolt upright in bed, wide-eyed and with sweat lining his brow. “Oh, that was a bad one,” was a typical response.
When he could remember the dreams the next morning over breakfast, they usually consisted of the “bad man chasing me” variety of nightmares. Dad was usually a pretty calm, quiet kind of guy, so when he exhibited the kind of fear he did when he was having a nightmare, we knew he wasn’t being dramatic. The bad dreams didn’t happen that often, maybe a handful or so a year, but I can definitely recall waking my dad up from a bad nightmare on more than one occasion in my childhood. It was a bit of a role reversal in the family unit, as usually it’s the parent that has to soothe the child and convince them there’s not a monster under the bed.
It does make me wonder if Dad continued to have nightmares as his dementia progressed. If so, was he able to comprehend that it was just a dream and not reality?