Tomorrow is Father’s Day, that one day in the year I dread/look forward to in equal measure.
My dad died a few months before my 5th birthday as a result of complications arising from his MS – the biggest complication being that he had MS in the 1970’s.
No MRI’s, no DMD’s. The first picture is of me at nursery before he died. That dress! And I still bite my lip.
Anyway, I first became aware of Father’s Day when the kindly folk at Social Services held a party for all us peeps who had lost a parent (careless). Being told at every juncture that this was for our benefit as we were poor, deprived children who couldn’t hope for much in life put paid to that and I left, humiliated and confused.
In primary school, I dreaded Father’s Day. We were told year in, year out, to draw our family. In Year 5, I drew my older brother standing on a rock, so he looked taller than the rest of us. If the teacher squinted, she could perhaps think he was my dad, as I placed him before my mum. I was embarrassed. Divorce was unusual, the death of a parent was non-existent.
In Year 6, I was called forward to the teacher’s desk on the first day of term and asked about my dad. Must have been a marked-point in the register. I replied (in front of the entire class) ‘Yes, he’s dead, can I go back to my seat now?’
Fast forward a good few years to my wedding day. A mixed blessing. I missed my dad. Fast forward some more years and I come to the whole MS palaver. I got his eyes, I got his MS. I hope I got his cheeky sense of humour too.
I’ve cobbled together tales I’ve learned about him – how he hung out tea-bags to dry on his sister’s washing line to wind her up in front of her neighbours, how he sat before a glass of water in a pub for so long, when people came up to him and asked him what he was doing, he told them he was waiting it to turn to wine. Gentle humour, but it makes me smile.
Now, I don’t feel so sad. He was 35 when he died, I’m now 40. He really does live on – in my son, with his cheeky grin and knowing look. I just wish he had the chance to meet his grandchild.