I realised recently that in 107 blogs over nearly six years, I’ve written very little about my father.
I was a little embarrassed at this because, you know, he’s been my Dad for 45 years now so surely I should have devoted more words to him than I have?
It’s not that I haven’t written about him during my 40 years as a writer, but these past few years not so much.
I sat with that and then I had an epiphany – of sorts.
You see, my Dad has always been there for me in a calm, kind, and stable manner. Yet, he also has a wondrous capacity for joy, as I do, too.
No massive emotional upheavals have ever been a part of our relationship – perhaps because I’m more like him than I’m not.
But since we haven’t lived in the same country for more than half my life now, our relationship has mostly been over the phone.
In fact, Dad says I should write a book called “Conversations with my Father” because of the thousands of hours we’ve spent talking about everything and “solving the world’s problems”.
I know I was lucky to have been born to parents who taught us that we could achieve anything we wanted.
He’s always had my back and I know he’s proud of what I’ve achieved.
Although I’m not sure he enjoyed reading my book called Shag Buddies – but I did try to warn him…
Not that he listened because he can also be a “little” stubborn from time to time, too. He actually sounds like someone I know who might be writing this story.
I’m no saint and nor is my father but he has always loved me for who I am, regardless of whether he approved of some of my questionable decisions in my misspent youth – and adulthood, too.
I can’t recall him ever raising his voice with me, even when I clearly deserved it, and I can’t recall him ever being anything but upfront and honest with me. A child (and an adult) like me always needed that.
My boyfriend (yes, I do have one of those now and maybe I’ll write about him one day) has two daughters with one now reaching those tricky teenage years where she doesn’t want to hang with her Dad as much as she once did.
Of course, he is bereft, and while I can’t help with any parental advice, I do remember being a teenage girl of a divorced father.
I try to placate him with the knowledge that girls will always need their Dads, even if temporarily it appears they don’t, because I know I still do and I’m now, gulp, middle aged.
My best friend’s Dad died earlier this year and he, like my father, was a very gentle man. Unlike my Dad, who loves a good chat, he was a man of few words but those words were always golden.
We all miss him very much.
But his passing made me realise what a blessing it is, and was for her, too, to be born to fathers who were calm and authentic, and who choose kindness over aggression.
These past few years, as you know, my emotional heartbeat was focused on losing Mum to Alzheimer’s, which I guess is why I haven’t written about Dad much now I think about it.
Writers write about things that make their hearts sing or cry after all. Not so much the people in the background who quietly keep them on the straight and narrow without them knowing it.
All the while, though, he was there to take my tearful, and sometimes drunk, phone calls when I struggled in the beginning to accept what was happening to my mother.
When Mum was finally diagnosed, it was him that I called – even though they have been divorced for decades.
He silently listened to my snot-infused ramblings and has continued to be my regular sounding board as her illness continues year after year.
I know that even though their time together was almost a lifetime ago, he has also grieved for the woman who is the mother of his three children.
And he has remembered, through long-lost photos now found, a beautiful young woman who entered his life as a teenager and who didn’t deserve the ending that life has handed her.
In fact, the past few years have made me admire my father anew, hence this long overdue ode.
He’s always been a good man and he married a woman who became the World’s Best Stepmother.
A daughter can’t ask for anything more than that.