My friends and bloggers, I could not let this day pass without sharing. In the past six weeks I have had the ‘life challenges and triumphs’ which I will share as I resume writing. Today, I thought to share my thoughts on being a DAD v Father, from my own life experiences…
My father died on 13th June, 2013 of throat cancer.My birthday is 14th June, and his was 15th June. He died as he lived, secretly not wanting any of his children (all daughters) scattered around the world to know. He died with his wife of thirty years (not my mom) and their daughter (my sister by his seed) close to him. He died afraid, trying to keep his secrets yet knowing they would all come out. He was a man, who was influenced by material things, status and the facade of ‘living a good life.’
A fantasy & rejection
Growing up I loved the man I thought my father was. It is difficult for a child of five years old to understand divorce and life, when it changes from a happy place to anger. My earliest memory of my father is of shouting and a fight between him and my mom. When they separated, my reality and fantasy world meshed, and I saw my father as a hero and my mom as a stand-in parent. For many years I listened to hateful words and disparaging comments about my father, and his lack of love for us, his four daughters. It would be many years before I realized, my mom was not the villain, or a default parent – she was the rock, the heart and loving soul of parenthood.
When my father left us, my mother had a mental breakdown, the first of a few major ones. We were placed in the local orphanage run by the Catholic Church for six months, because she was a teacher at the catholic school. My father came to visit us there, on two occasions but never returned, because (as I would later discover) his new adventure and life ‘in London’ was now beginning.
My mother struggled with us financially, emotionally and yet she found the capacity to care for us, and raise us to be young women. My father was quite cunning and did eventually earn his fortunes, becoming quite wealthy. He never sent maintenance as agreed by the court of thirty pounds per month, and my mother loved him too much to make the practical decision to force his hand. He was a master at manipulation and deception and played on her emotions whenever she wrote to him.
In the last decade, I was able to visit my father at his home in London on my business trips, and tried to establish a relationship with him. He assumed if anyone knew of his wealth we would make a claim to it, and this was not so. Sadly all his daughters around the world (six on my last discovery) wanted was his love, and he died without having the capacity to give what he did not have.
It was a privilege to spend the times I did with him and his family after us. His wife was warm and kind as was my sister, before he died. Finally my fantasy father became real, dispelling a childhood creation, a false representation of the real person. I also saw quite briefly on a few occasions a look of remorse, quickly hidden by his bravado and sarcastic humor.
Reality hurts and relieves
There are a lot of negative emotions a child learns when rejected by a parent. However, there is a lot we learn about love from rejection, and the value of it. There is a lot to learn from dysfunctional relationships and the lack of core relationships, the biggest lesson being –not to dwell and reside in negative sadness!
I did not know my father, the man who for a short while loved my mother, married her, and then left us all. Father’s day reminds me of the hurt I felt when he died, because the opportunity and hope for a ‘dad’ died. I did grieve, cry and pray for him. We do not get to choose who our parents are, we come forth from a coupling and hopefully there is love. Can I love the man who did not know how to love us? Can I love the father who chose to pursue his dreams at any cost? Can I love someone who did not understand the value and responsibility of life? The answer to these questions is yes. I can love him because he was a part of my life’s journey. He was my father, but he failed to become my dad. He died without finding the most precious wealth of all on earth – the love of his daughters. He died quite poor.
Happy Father’s day, and to the Dad’s – Happy Daddy’s Day. It’s about being more than a father graduate and become a dad. Be the best dad!