i just read a post over at cathjenkin’s blog which amounts to a love paean to fathers. it’s left me feeling rather wistful. and thinking that she’s really lucky to have known and know amazing father figures.
it leaves me with a mix of gratitude to know such men exist and jealousy that i personally never knew such fathers. father’s day has never really featured in my life and when friends have spoken about their fathers with affection and love and longing, it’s always left me with a sense of wonder. such men are the equivalent of the unicorn, or the phoenix. magical fantasy creatures.
even when my (half) sister talks of our father and of missing him, i can’t reconcile the person who essentially abandoned me, with the person she remembers. and i’m a little jealous.
i met my dad for the first time when i was 14. i was standing on the stoep of his house in the bo-kaap (one of 3 connecting houses he owned and which were later sold for pittance) when i saw this fair, red-faced, sandy-haired, pot-bellied man come ambling up the road. he looked at me and said, “don’t tell me you’re sandra” and i, expecting a hero, but meeting merely a man, looked him straight in the eye and said, “no, i’m not”. those, literally, are the first words i remember exchanging with my father. from hearsay, i understand that i get my love of crossword puzzles and words from him, but i have no first hand experience. what i do remember is on the few occasions i did see him after that, him saying things like, “why must your hair always stand on end?” and at the time, i guess it did. even now, from time to time, it still does.
and my step-father? i won’t even start on the hell he put me through from the ages of 4 to 16, as well as the damage to my adult psyche i’ve only recently felt mostly healed from.
so when i read posts like the one mentioned above, i can’t help but feel a little envy.
one of exmi’s fb updates today was a quote which read “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.” ~Kent Nerburn
all i can say about my father and my step-father is that they epitomized that statement. from the one i got no attention, from the other, i got the kind of attention no child should ever get from an adult.
i forgive them. may they rest in peace.
Awe…..I’m sorry you never had the amazing experiences I’ve had with my father growing up. It sucks that things just sometimes doesn’t work out. Your post made me 1 very sad, and 2 extremely grateful that i’ve been blessed with such an amazing father. *hugs*
thanks ruby. i’m just so glad to hear other women’s stories of wonderful dads. reassures me that it’s possible. xxx
Very powerful pen sketch…
thanks paul. good to see you here again. love to you and the grumpy one.
Brave, brave, BRAVE woman, you. So brave. let it just be known it was not always roses and sunshine with my dad. I didnt speak to him for two years. We lived in the same house and spoke to each other through my mother. but, in retrospect, i feel i lost all that time. at the time though, i found him to not understand me, not get me and i hated him.
I wish for you a hug and a dream.
I wish for my daughter a father she can rely on (she sure as hell doesn’t have it now)
thank you cath for inspiring this post. amazing the ambivalence of the relationships we have with family. how we can both love and hate them. bottom line is that we have no choice about them – it’s the blood that binds. i too wish that your daughter (and every other little kid) has a dad who will always be there for her. in all the best ways. i’m glad i discovered your blog. x
Your post amounts to a horror story which should never exist out of fiction. When I read about men like that, I feel the urge to apologise on behalf of all men. They shame us.
Father’s day shouldn’t just be about getting attention, it should be a day when all fathers tremble in awe at the role they have, the priviledge of it.
I hope you’ve come across men who have helped to rewrite your childhood experiences.
You are a remarkable woman for having survived.
but see, scott, men like you give me hope. men who feel and think and recognize that fatherhood is a choice they made (whether unwittingly or not) and a responsibility not to be taken lightly. and yes, a priviledge. *you* are one of the men doing my childhood rewrite. thank you. really. thank you.
Thats very sad indeed Sass.
My knucklehead has never met his father- but he had my brother and my father as “stand-ins” and they were amazing…