“Through A Glass Darkly” column for Dec. 26, 2012

The questions of whom from the past you would like to entertain and what you would ask them have long been fun to ponder.

I’ve often enjoyed the game with others and even alone while driving or on nights when sleep evades.

At those times, a lot of names run through my mind, including people like Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo de Vinci and Mark Twain. The names often change depending on what I’ve been reading.

Two remain constants. One is Jesus. I’d love to ask him what he meant in so many red-lettered verses.

I’d also love to ask him how he feels about today’s political and social issues. He would probably answer me with parables.

Another person who is always on my list is my father.

As with Jesus, I would sometimes like to ask his advice on a particular problem. Many of the decisions I make in life are influenced by how I think those two would handle the situations.

With my father, a lot of the questions would go beyond philosophy, ethics and what the afterlife is like.

I’d like to reminisce about things we did together, much like I enjoy conversations with living friends who have shared experiences from long ago.

I’d also like to ask my dad questions I neglected to ask him when he was living or that I didn’t pay enough attention to when he spoke of them unbidden.

I’d delve into details of rich stories that he told me of his life as a child or as a young man.

I’d like to explore with him not just the things he saw and did, but how he felt about them.

I’d learn more about our relatives who died before I was born. I’d like not just limbs on the family tree but the colors of their leaves.

There’s also a second game I’d love to play with him and some of the other people I would draw from the past.

It would be great to show de Vinci our flying machines. I’d like to see what Franklin thinks of things electrical or the path our government has taken.

Even my father, who died less than 35 years ago, would shake his head in wonder at things we take for granted today.

A man of vision, who had several patents, he’d think of some inventions as silly while marveling at others.

He’d be impressed with the technology of cellphones, but wouldn’t care to have one invading his solitude. He’d love computers and the Internet. Being able to gain instant information on myriad subjects would be satisfying to his constant curiosity about places, how things work and world events.

I’d also love to show him the people his grandchildren have become and the smiles and potential of his great grandchildren.

Of course, depending on what he could tell me about the afterlife, maybe I’d find he already knows all about those in whose veins his blood still flows.

Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@theadvocate.com.