Sunday, 6 October 2013

Twenty years yesterday.

There are things I blog about, and things I don't. This has, until now, one topic I have steered clear of, perhaps because it was too hard and painful for me to write about. 

Now I feel I am ready. 

I am very happy that this blog is read by a wonderful group of people, but essentially it is a diary of sorts, a few snapshots about where I am in that moment in time. Also, for some things, I express myself far better in writing than in speaking about it. So it is cathartic. 

It might not make for very comfortable reading.

Dear Dad,

You died 20 years ago yesterday. I was going to say "left us" but that is a bit of a euphemism, isn't it?

Physically you are probably dust and bones. I have not yet made up my mind whether people's spirits stay around to comfort and protect those left. In good times, I would have liked to think of you cheering me on. I am not one for guardian angels, anyway.

You died too early. Yes, he who lives by the sword tends to die by it, but we still expected a bit longer with you. Perhaps a few more good times?

I am not going to get all mushy or rose tinted goggles on you. We didn't have you very long. In the later years, we didn't see you very much. Sometimes when we did, you were good fun, and sometimes you made a bloody nuisance of yourself, getting all aggressive. I am sure you loved us very much, but you were not ever much of a father.

Yes, harsh, but yes, true. Even you would have to admit that.

You can understand that there was, and remains, ambivalence towards you.

The memories of you are fading, both the good and bad ones. The feelings, though, were stuffed down very effectively for a very long time. Only now am I making some sense of them. They pop up in ways I could never have imagined.

People say you can't miss what you didn't have. Certainly, over the years, while striving singlemindedly towards my goals, there were older men in my life who I attached fatherly significance to. I am grateful for these men. I am sure you would be glad to know they were, in small ways, there. We all need role models of both genders.

But, for all intents and purposes, and for most of my life, I did not really have a father. I say that in a matter of fact manner, not self pitying. I never used to think that it mattered. Now, I am coming to an understanding that it did, and does matter.

I think it's something about feeling safe. Dads are the protectors of daughters. That sounds a bit clumsy but I am still getting my head around it.

Plus, it would've been good to have a dad on the front porch staring menacingly at whichever boy I first brought across the threshold. Keep the boy on his toes. Perhaps encourage me not to marry the first man who took an interest. I don't know. It's all moot now.

Anyway, Dad, for a long time I denied memories of you (the good and bad), pushed them aside, blocked them out. My thoughts touched on them but never wrapped around them. It was easier that way.

But, to be a whole functioning person, one needs to learn to integrate all of the important things.

You are half of me. I have come to like me. So I am coming to accept you - you did have your good points.

You form part of the more fragile part of me. You also form some of the better parts, I give you due credit for that.

All parents say that the most important thing they want for their children is happiness. Other things, like success and a comfortable life, but happiness is the key thing.

If you are out there in the ether, you will be glad to know that I have made the best of things, and I always strive for self-improvement.

That I am happy. Despite everything. Because of everything.

your eldest daughter

bro, dad, sis and me, c 1990


  1. Beautiful, honest words.

    I had a terrible relationship with my dad growing up - it hurts me to think about really. I didn't speak to him between the ages of 21-26, with good reason I like to think. It's much better now, but I am still filled with hatred whenever I think of what it was like to be his daughter when I was growing up... it really really sucked. I've often thought about how I'd feel if he died (so morbid) and I honestly don't know... but your words have helped somewhat. It's comforting to know that not everyone has amazing fathers that they go to for advice and encouragement and love.

    You're a good person :)

    1. Alisha, I am hugging you through the computer and the optic fibres and stuff.

      The unfortunate fact of the matter is that some people make shit parents. All we can hope is that we can integrate and do better.

    2. So much truth. I definitely think my dad did a terrible job of being a father to a teenaged girl who really needed someone encouraging and understanding in her life so she wouldn't fall apart quite as badly as she did!

      (actually speaking about myself in the third person because I barely remember that girl now :) )

      But, it's all good, I've just acknowledged that he's really good at other things and it's absolutely not a reflection on me that he was a crap father.

      Ah, hindsight and maturity win!

  2. That must have been a tough one to write...I think most parent relationships are complicated but perhaps this one a little more so. It is tough when a parent passes away especially when so young. Death anniversaries are weird things. I think he would be quite happy and proud of you. I think of my life very much still in terms of before my dad's death and after. As I refer to it as my own personal A.D. Then again some say we karmically choose our parents tho if that were the case I would have chosen a different mum!!xx

  3. What a brave and beautiful post. I hope that writing and acknowledging your feelings will help in the healing process.
    Some people just are shit parents.

  4. I read this yesterday and refrained from commenting- trying to think of the right thing to say. Not any closer today. I wish you peace and happiness x

  5. Your words! Wow. Truth and expression like this is a beautiful thing. Hugs.
    Heidi xo