I wasn’t going to write about my dad because I wrote about him (very briefly) before and of course I did not write about my mother for Mother’s Day which makes me think I shouldn’t write then, about my father.
But I thought a lot of him again yesterday on Father’s Day and also because the World Cup is on and he was a HUGE soccer fan (Go Portugal!) and I miss those rare occasions we got to watch sports together. Then I got thinking about how when he was in town and sober, he would drive us to the biggest bookstore in the city and demand we pick a book.
I loved the fact that even though he wasn’t a book reader he tried to instil in us a love of books and learning.
My sister gravitated towards the picture books. Always has and always will (she has a massive collection of coffee table books) while I set about buying every English language tome I could get my small hands on. I collected Dickens for example, long before I actually read any of his work.
Photo of my dad at age 19 yrs. One year before he married my mother. I have very few photos of my dad and only one of him and me on my wedding day (a picture I am not ready to share because I was still very much sporting ’80s’ hair). When I came across this photo of my dad among my late gran’s possessions I was immediately struck by how much BOTH my sons look like my father. It makes Mr. decidedly uncomfortable knowing I have (really) strong genes 😀
I’m a lot like my dad. I get my love of travel and adventure from him for example just like I enjoy making people feel comfortable and welcome.
Dad started out in the hospitality industry and went on to manage several hotels which is why my sister and I would fly around the country to visit him. But while he could be charming, funny and easygoing he was also an alcoholic and sometimes being around him was unbearable – at times impossible.
After I married we became estranged. Long story. He flitted from hotel to hotel (relationship to relationship, he was popular with the ladies) while I settled down to the kind of quiet and domestic life I had always craved. I’m not sure I missed him really – how can you miss someone you barely know? Until one day he showed up and said he was possibly going through a midlife crisis and was changing careers (he had a great sense of humour) and wanted to live nearby. He moved in with his mother and found work as a turner (machinist).
I worked at building a relationship with my father. Started inviting him over for meals (he was an excellent cook) but his refusal to seek help for his addiction was the reason I kept my walls up. Loving him was not enough for me or for him. I wanted to respect him and he in turn needed me to respect him. It was not going to happen, I pointed out, until he sought the treatment he so clearly needed.
When you’re young you think time stretches out before you. In my early thirties I convinced myself that time was on my side and your loved ones, will live forever . My dad died suddenly and terribly at 59. He was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
And I was left bereft. I cannot write about my father without writing about loss. About lost time and lost opportunities but something close to miraculous happened soon after his death. I found it in me to forgive my mother for all the things she did not do or say because she didn’t know how. I forgave her before it was too late.