My Dad died on 14th August 2004, a little over five years ago and that was the catalyst for starting this blog and in so many ways the trigger for most of the changes in my life. It was the moment when the midlife episode hit leading to an awakening and a realisation that things would never be the same again. There's been good and bad since that time for me. I have changed, in some ways becoming more honest, mainly with myself. I have learnt where I was weak and in the process I think I have become a better person. But you know what, hardly a day goes by when I do't think of my Dad, when I don't wish that our relationship had been better, that I had taken the time to spend more time with him, that instead of being just father and son, that we had also been mates.
And I sometimes wonder in looking at myself in terms of that relationship, how I might have been a better father to my kids. I know now that my biggest failure as a person is that I am a master at keping feelings to myself. Ironically that has been seen as a strength by many work colleagues because they percieve me as someone who is cool calm and collected and always in control. They don't realise that sometimes that facade is hiding a little boy who sometimes quakes in hs boots.
That little boy tends to reflect on days like today. I remember going to the local shopping centre on Saturday mornings and getting a hair cut with Dad and then sprinting along the street to the milk bar for a milkshake. I remember him sitting on my bad at night smelling of beer and cigarettes and fetching me a glass of water. I remember the cubby houses we would build out of sheets of masonite he would bring home from work, and the days spent setting up my cowboys and indians and farm yards on the lounge room floor. I remember playing marbles in the backyard.
After I separated from my then wife and whilst I was living alone in a flat no one came to about two years after Dad died he came to me and sat on my bed. I know I was more than likely asleep but it was a very vivid dream and I was once again that little boy who got comfort from that nightly visit by his Dad.
I expect to see three of my four kids today. I fear it's not because they want to but because they think they should and maybe that is a reflection of the type of father I have been. My ex did tell me after I left that they kids had discussed things and thought that I was never there when they were growing up. And it's true I worked long hours but I never missed an event or any of the many games of sport they played. I didn't play cowboys and indians with my sons, nor marbles, nor did we build cubby houses, but we played basketball and built lego towns and I read them stories at night whilst they fell asleep. Could I have done more? Undoubtedly. But I was what I was and that is all I was.
For anyone who is interested I have looked back over the posts on this blog and found some familiar themes in older posts.
Bad Jokes Good Father?
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father
Things I miss
Cats in the Cradle
Parents and the Damage Done
Josie's Interview Part 2 - A non-sozzled Loz
So if you happen to be lucky enough to still have your Dad, make sure you contact him today and tell him you love him. Don't end up with some of the regrets that I have. And if you happen to be a Dad make sure you also tell your kids how much you love them, that if at times there have been some cats in the cradle moments, that is a weakness most fathers have. We carry that burden of provider, pre-programmed into us and for some of us it is something we will bear till the end of our days. If we're lucky our inevitable midlife episode may give us a shake and awaken us to some of the other possibilities. Maybe that's why some of us make far better grandparents than parents. Perhaps being that little further down the road means that we can choose to live the moment differently.