Remembering Fathers

Love DadI don’t have many memories of my father, but I remember like it was yesterday how he said he was going out to see a man about a dog and never came back. I was six years old. The only time I heard from him again was when he sent me a postcard to say I was now the man of the house and should take care of my mum, the way he knew I would.

For the rest of my childhood, I held onto that tiny postcard and slept with it under my pillow. I played a movie inside my head in which my dad had taken passage on a boat from England to America where he was making his fortune. Soon, he would return and we would eat chicken everyday and drink lemonade, even if we were not thirsty. He would hug me and give the greatest gift of all – his smile and praise for being his boy.

But I would not see my father again until I was a young man. He cried when we met and I wondered about all the adventures he had had without me. We were strangers with no shared memories beyond him joking that he wanted some of my hair because all of his had fallen out.

And then, by some hideous twist of fate, he died on my birthday. It seemed like a tortured final gift from someone who had never sent gifts for any birthday before. He died alone and in poverty. There was no adventure in America, no fortune, no lemonade. Any chance for us to know each other as men was gone forever.

But I have no time for pity parties. I found ambition from my father’s absence. The same movie that he should have starred in became my movie and I came to America to find my fortune. The memories that I should have had as a boy became the memories I made as a father to my own children.

Now, my youngest daughter is six years old and I cannot imagine abandoning the memories of her upbringing to a stranger. I cannot imagine the emptiness of losing a thousand moments of joy that are made just by coming home and having her leap into my arms. And I cannot imagine the loss that a man must feel when he realizes it is all too late because the child he could have known is grown and the beautiful age of innocence is lost forever.

Fatherhood lives in shared memories. It is the movie that is the life of our families. It is our authentic, unique existence.

Around the world, we are celebrating our fathers and being a father. We celebrate fatherhood because it is the greatest gift a man will ever know. And as we stare into the loving eyes of our children, we have our own precious sense of immortality.

And no one can take that away.

Comments

  1. This makes me yearn for fatherhood 😪

  2. My husbands ex wife ran away with his daughter when she was 4 (after having emptied the bank account and sold all the furniture!). Through the courts she chased him for maintenance and he willingly supported his daughter. But his wife would not allow him to know where she lived. She never complied with access orders, and moved on more than one occasion when he caught up with her.

    Eleven years later when my new husband had been unemployed for 18 months and we were struggling looking after 4 children, one was a new born boy of our own. I decided enough was enough, I had been paying the maintenance on his daughter, as my husband was Self employed through agencies and he had no benefits and it was during the recession. So I pulled the plug.

    As one would expect, she took him to court for not paying and they accidentally sent us her letter and her our letter. His daughter found it, with our address on and wrote to us, leaving us a telephone number. I rang for him to try to fool tne mother if she picked up, but his daughter picked up the phone and we managed to speak to her briefly before her mother realiaed who it was and cut us off.

    His daughter asked in a second letter that we write via a friends address. We did and put a letter in with a birthday card. It came back torn up (we later found out she had never received it). The mother then rang my home angry that the court had refused her the back maintenance she was demanding, remember this was on the grounds I was paying it and i wasn’t responsible for supporting her daughter. My husband wasn’t in to listen to the vitriol, but part of the conversation was that she was now going to move again so we didn’t know where she lived. His daughter was nearly 16 at that point so he never had to pay maintenance again.

    For many years we tried to find his daughter via the internet. Then four years ago she found me via genes reunited, they told her I was on friends reunited and she could get an email address from that. Even that first meeting with our son in law has formed memories we all laugh about now. It is sad that we missed out on her wedding, the birth and early years of our oldest grandchildren as well as her growing up. But we have a fabulous bond now. Her mother disowned her when she found out she was in contact with her dad, she has also lost contact with her half sisters, who she never got on with.

    I am writing this from our daughters home right now, where we have come to celebrate her 40th birthday. She didn’t know until her teens that her stepfather was not her real dad and that the two half sisters who were apparently treated far better than her, were not full sisters. She did find out in that short interlude in her teens when we had contact that she had a half brother via me and held onto that.

    She says she now feels more a part of my family than she ever did her own, she says she had an awful upbringing and that I’m more of a mum to her than her own ever was. She feels close to her father, brother and step brothers. The children call each other cousins. We may have missed the growing up, she says she wishes she had lived with us and my boys, but we are making new memories right now and they will be treasured.

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