I have been feeling a little bit odd over the last week or so, I am spending a lot of time missing my dad. He died 10 years ago (the day after Obama was voted in) so much has changed in those 10 years both in terms of politics and for me personally.
The realisation came this morning – the reason I couldn’t get this nagging feeling of loss from my heart was because it was fathers day this weekend. The irony is we never even celebrated it, he thought it was commercial and as someone who wasn’t exactly easy to buy gifts for I always breathed a sigh of relief (I am going to take this opportunity to apologise for all of those socks, shower gel golf balls and chocolate ginger I did buy for birthdays and Christmases. I wish I had been more creative).
You can’t miss Father’s Day, pop into the supermarket and there is a huge display, the emails are still flooding in with offers and we are discussing where we will take my daughters dad and then realising that you have to be more organised and book these posh places up as this is now apparently a BIG THING.
Although for many of us it is also a day when we are feeling pretty sad and rubbish. I am by no means the only 40 year old woman without a dad, in fact in my friendship group I am far from unique – some didn’t know their dads, or they passed away years ago, others don’t have any contact for various reasons. I am sure we all shared some sadness on Sunday.
The media has romanticised motherhood for decades, our mums are seen as the ones who bring us up and are responsible but as the saying goes it takes two to tango. Our DNA is from both of our parents and whether the man we call dad is biologically related a not his presence, or his absence shapes who we are.
My dad was my biggest hero, I adored him and we had a great relationship (marred with some pretty epic screaming matches during my teenage years). He was funny, kind and charming and passed on a love of travel as he had grown up in Australia, we even went travelling together in Australia and Malaysia. He loved me dearly and was fiercly protective, I was always his little girl. That he will never meet my little girls and wasn’t the man walking me down the aisle when I was getting married will always be there, but today it feels stronger.
My dad was by no means perfect, he was an alcoholic and this was eventually what killed him a decade ago. Watching a parent struggle with an addiction isn’t fun but he was not his illness and I am grateful that my happy memories of him are plentiful.
Having had 30 years with my dad makes me one of the lucky ones, in a way on fathers day it is a time to reflect on that relationship, those memories and the love I will always carry for him. I am acutely aware that many people will be mourning a lack of relationship, a damaged relationship or a much more recent loss. Choose to mark this day how you feel fit for your emotions. Be selfish, cry, scream, shout, celebrate or commiserate.
My husbands dad is 80 this year and we will all be going to a local Ghanian restaurant tonight to celebrate him. I will be taking some time to myself in the morning and am sure will shed some more tears when I do so.
And, if you have a dad who you have a great relationship with let him know how much he means to you.
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