Further from Father

 

The only photo I know of with my entire family together.

I don’t know how to feel. I can lie to myself; I’ve been lying to myself for years. But I can’t lie to the blog. The blog demands the truth, you see. My father has just died. But I am not in any way deserving of your pity. I haven’t spoken to my father in five years – not since last Tuesday, when I went to visit him in hospital to say goodbye. After a two-and-a-half hour train journey to London, and one-and-a-half hours of bus journeys (I hate driving in London), I finally made it to his bedside. And even then, I’m fairly certain he didn’t know I was there. But I had to pay my respects; I held his hand in the brief time I had, kissed his forehead, stroked his curly hair (he always had a lovely, full head of curly hair – that’s where I get mine), and said goodbye for the last time. I knew it was going to be the last time. But you see, I still don’t know how I’m supposed to feel.

Almost from the day I was born, I have always had a difficult and strained relationship with my dad. I won’t speak ill of the dead; it isn’t right, because they can’t defend themselves. But it would be hypocritical of me to write this blog and extol his virtues; sing his praises. He was never an abusive man, but he was a selfish man. Like I say, we hadn’t spoken in five years. It was an easy decision to make, too; to cut him out of my life at the time. My sister had just died, and he refused to attend the funeral. He had his reasons; agoraphobia, mental illness issues – there was certainly no malice involved. But to me, that bereaved and bitter woman of five years ago, I just felt a man must attend his own daughter’s funeral. No question. But he didn’t, or he couldn’t. I don’t know which. Either way, that was the end of our father-daughter relationship – one that had never been very good in the first place.

I was talking to a friend and colleague the other day. Mike had written a speech for his daughter’s wedding this coming weekend (today). For some reason, Mike sometimes chooses to waste his time reading this blog, and he wanted my advice on the speech (I’m not sure why anybody should want my advice on such an important thing, but he did). So he read out his ‘father of the bride’s speech’ for my opinion; it was funny and touching in all the right places. I don’t think I’ve heard a better one. I know for a fact that his daughter will find it very emotional (particularly towards the end). I think he will find it emotional to read. I didn’t say so at the time, because I was feeling a little emosh’ myself, but my father didn’t come to my wedding. I got married just a few months after my sister’s death. I can’t honestly even remember if I invited him or not, but he wouldn’t have come anyway, because of the agoraphobia. Anyhow, there certainly wasn’t any ‘father-of-the-bride’s speech’ at my wedding; my lovely brother walked me down the aisle, and gave a beautiful speech instead. But if my dad had been able to write and read aloud a speech, like Mike will for his daughter, I’d have been immensely proud. His daughter is lucky to have him.

This is a very different blog to the one I was going to write a week ago. That blog was still very bitter; still aggrieved. That aggrieved child has been in me all this time, you see. I am slightly scarred as an adult because of my childhood, less and less so as the years go by, but the damage you do when raising a kid is irrevocable. But when I saw my dad in that hospital bed; eyes rolling into the back of his head, limbs flailing, clearly distressed, hollow cheekbones, all that bitterness was knocked out of me. I just felt very sad. He was a tortured soul in his life; a troubled man, with his own demons. And seeing that shell of a man who had once seemed so big, and such a huge barrier to all my future hopes when I was a kid, I stopped feeling resentment. Lying in that hospital bed, he was so weak and vulnerable; so close to death. That was a blog that didn’t need to be written. So I simply deleted it, because the anger has gone. I’m merely regretful now.

So as I sit here and cry now (I’m often crying when I write this blog, usually not from fits of laughter, unfortunately – although, I am one to laugh at my own jokes. Just ask my kids), I’m not crying for the relationship with my father that I had. I’m crying for the relationship I wish it was. If you have a dysfunctional relationship with your parent, you don’t even get to look back at the good times like normal people. People like us are only left with regret, and a strange, lost feeling you don’t quite know what to do with. So I’m not deserving of pity, no. But that doesn’t make it any less hard. You only get one set of parents, and he was my dad. The only one I had. And for all his flaws, and there were many, I say again – he never did anything out of maliciousness. He was a complicated man, who probably didn’t know any better. I hope my mother and siblings don’t think badly of me for writing this, but like I say, I may lie to myself – but never to the blog. So, goodbye, Daddy. I hope you’re in a better place now. I hope that place is free from whatever it was that frightened you so much, that you had to hide yourself away from the world. I hope that place brings you the peace that this world never could. xx


PS: One week I tell you I won’t be blogging very much, then there’s a deluge. Sorry.

PPS: Sorry Hazel for your delayed blog, it is still scheduled…

PPPS: Good luck with your speech today, Mike. Your daughter will love it!

 

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17 thoughts on “Further from Father

  1. Wear your scars with pride because that’s what makes you a better person. We all have that one person in our lives whose love we crave and yet they do not feel the same way. Its hard when it is one of our parents. May your father soul rest in peace. Let bygones be bygones for your own peace of mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What you’ve written is so honest and straightforward that I’m at a loss for words, except to quote you below since I most assuredly relate to this:

    “I’m not crying for the relationship with my father that I had. I’m crying for the relationship I wish it was. If you have a dysfunctional relationship with your parent, you don’t even get to look back at the good times like normal people. People like us are only left with regret, and a strange, lost feeling you don’t quite know what to do with.”

    You’re amazing, Adele. I wish your father had either taken the time to know you, or had within him the ability to do so. Either way, what a loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As someone who hasn’t spoken to my own father for nearly two decades, I can truly empathize with most of the emotions you are feeling right now. The long-term sense of loss can affect you deeply. Sending you a chaste but warm digital hug…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Brian. It seems there are so many like us out there. I’ve been comforted by this solidarity over the last couple of days, yet saddened that so many parents got it so wrong. A chaste digital hug right back at ya’…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am very touched by your thoughts. A lot of feelings are coming up when you loose a parent. My mom died in february this year and my feelings are changing all the time. I think that the most important thing is to look at ALL the feelings – this is what makes us grow. I think you have every reason to be sad and angry because you have not been taken care of properly … Thank you, Adele. I will follow you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So sorry for your loss, Adele. I know what it is like to have lost a parent. You are correct. There are feelings that come bubbling up to the surface that you don’t expect. My husband had the same situation as you. He did not talk to his father for years. They were estranged. Then he died suddenly. My husband was devastated. In time, the pain will lessen. You will have your good days and your bad days. Then a memory will hit you out of nowhere and then you will start to well up. You will get through it. I wish you peace.

    Liked by 1 person

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