Thursday, 11 September 2014

Dear Dad

It has taken 23 years and a letter telling him he is either in or out... but finally my Dad is arriving tomorrow to visit.

I can't quite imagine him here, walking through my house. Seeing where I live, the kids' bedrooms, eating at our dining table, taking in our beautiful view. I'm beyond delighted that he's making the trip, that he's giving me his time, and most importantly of all, he's going to be with his grandkids. I wonder if afterwards, he'll stop and consider all the time that he has missed.

We'd fallen out in January, hadn't spoken for several months. My childhood resentments have long been buried, but I could never shake off the anger I felt that he had taken so little interest in my children - because he claimed, 'you live so far away.' An hours flight... Meanwhile he had his step-grandchildren to stay every weekend, devotes years to them - taking them to cricket and golf, cheering on the sidelines at their rugby matches. My bitterness at this sometimes threatened to overwhelm me.

So I wrote this all down. My buddy Chris said, 'you're a writer, so tell him in letter.' It took me several more months to finally do it. When I did, I wrote it in one go. Licked the stamp, posted it - no going back.

Now, we are moving forward. I feel so relieved - so blessed. My greatest fear had been that we would never resolve our issues, that he would die with us estranged.

His personality is HUGE. People take up smoking after he has been talking to them for 10 minutes. He is both enticing and exhausting. A whirlwind of a man. When I was little, I loved nothing more than climbing into the crook of his arm, laying across his chest. I remember his soft jumpers, 'Marc O'Polo' written across them. He made me feel safe.

Husband loves him, the children adore him. He's easy to like. As a teenager my buddies thought he was the coolest Dad - letting us drink cider and renting scary movies on VHS for us to squeal at. Deep down, I've longed for tomorrow. For him to give me his time. Of course I am light years away from the little girl with pigtails and gappy teeth that needed his bear hugs. I'm 41, with a family of my own.

Yet oddly, I there is a part of me, and perhaps there always will be -  wanting to fit into that crook of his arm.


Shannon B said...

I'm glad it's worked out. I have wondered after you shared your frustrations. I'm in a similar situation. I get it. Your kids will love it. Enjoy the moments that you can. Can't. Wait to read about it.

Anonymous said...

hmm. I hope it goes well and I hope the kids and him get on famously. I think though - because I remember your totally understandable sadness and hurt at his very... uncaring (let's call it that) attitude towards you for decades - that you shouldn't be too quick to proclaim that all is forgiven and isn't he wonderful? I hope a great, mutual-effort relationship can be built, that he can be part of your life in a meaningful way, with effort and concern and that there's all the give and take you long for (we all long for, really). Just don't let this become a stick to beat you with, you know ''I DID visit you, remember? In 2014 it was...'' There is a lot of repair work to be done and some serious, not-fun-cuddly chats to be had. It sounds like he knows the score now, so be your usual wise and fair self and get things on the right path going forward. I hope you do, we only get one dad (my own, so beloved, died when I was 14), so sending positive and happy thoughts for the upcoming visit!