Gordon WIlson, Drawn by Sue on her iPad
The father of my closest friend died this week. I have just been helping her write a eulogy for him and I have come to a full stop because it has tapped into everything I feel about my own father who died over 30 years ago, and also made me think about me as a father. I don’t want these blogs to be about me, to be my diary, but I do feel the need to say something.
I’m a father and I struggle.
My children live their own, adult lives and I am proud of them, proud like I was the moment they were born and proud like I have been every day since then. Sometimes they have done things that I really wish they hadn’t done, and sometimes I have done things I wish I hadn’t done, but being their father is the highpoint of my life.
So why is it so difficult? When my father was alive I never found the man; he was locked into his own belief set and his own need to create order out of chaos in our family. He died as I was reaching adulthood (although I never realised at the time that you never quite reach it) so that I never got close enough to talk the way I would talk now. I didn’t have the skill, and nor did he.
I think my own children have a father who divorced their mother and was vilified by her as they grew up. To throw fuel on the fire, I didn’t do everything a father should to be there and support them. I tried, but in retrospect I didn’t try hard enough. They have a father they struggle to relate to. I suffered a deep depression when I left them, and again a few years later, but to them they saw a man who wasn’t there, wasn’t reliable. A father shouldn’t inflict his depression on his children, but how can you not?
They created their own reality, their own adulthood, their own choices. Now, there isn’t a day that I don’t think about them. Really, not a single day.
One day, they will have the opportunity to do what my friend is doing, put together some words to say at their father’s funeral. She has tapped into her deep, undying love for her father and has spoken so tenderly – like a little girl.
I fear I will not be so lucky.