Dad died on Saturday.
“In his sleep.” They said, at the care home.
I wonder if they say this to all the absent relatives? It’s easier to believe that than to think he may have suffered. I feel relief that he has finally gone. It’s strange not to feel sadness when a family member dies; I was devastated when mum died fifteen years ago.
How can I grieve for a man that I could not understand? After a childhood of fear at his angry outbursts, my love turned to disappointment as I realised that I did not share his polarised beliefs about white, male superiority. Looking back, I feel fortunate that I only witnessed the claustrophobic atmosphere on school holidays; when my impairment made it impossible to escape endless hours of cricket on ‘his’ television.
Yet, we did share good times along the way. Dad loved nature and we spent rare but memorable summer days wandering hedgerows laden with blackberries. The fishing trips were filled with sounds of casting off and lazy dragonflies coasting along dappled waters. I dreaded the days Dad would cook his curries which he would insist were mild as his nose streamed and the sweat poured from him. These childhood memories are distorted, distilled into short points in time and dispersed with my other life at boarding school.
I think Dad was a sad and angry man. Some may say selfish, others a product of his time. It was clear that his inability to form healthy relationships with people made him isolated and bitter. He hated that mum was the one we ran to and shared our deepest thoughts with. Being as he was, he could never compete with her warmth and generosity.
What makes a man so inept at sharing his life? What makes a man think that his sexual conquests and feelings of superiority were more valued than being a loving husband and father? I can only guess that his childhood was not always a happy one and his survival mechanism was to retreat into his own disillusioned world. A world that he could control and where he was always the king.
I will remember the good times; of sitting on his shoulders as we all wandered down a country lane, picking blackberries and listening to birdsong. A time when we were happy and still had the luxury of our childhood innocence.
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