The Dementia Diary

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Father’s Day

on June 18, 2012

Father’s Day brings about a lot of mixed emotion for me.  I am very happy to see the relationship my husband has with our children.  He is a great dad and a fantastic role model and I am happy to help our children make his day special.  Dads  like my husband deserve this special day.

F i L has had a sometimes strained relationship with his sons.  His own father was distant.  The women in his family were more dominant, and although he had 5 brothers, all somewhat older than him, in terms of a role model for fatherhood he didn’t have much.  F i L however was involved in raising his boys, playing with them, giving them rules and boundaries to live by, doing his best for his family.  He was pedantic, often out-dated in his beliefs and attitudes, and this led to tension between himself and his growing boys, but what was never in doubt was that his intentions were always to do his best for his family.

My father left (with my mother’s agreement) when I was 11 years old.  He had in effect ‘left’ some years before when he started going to the pub every night, or working away.  I have very few memories of my dad doing anything with my family.  I have fewer memories of him being happy to spend time with me and my brother.  I have lots of memories however of him leaving us sitting outside pubs, for hours on end, while he got drunk.  We hid in case our mum happened upon us and realised we weren’t in effect spending the weekend with our dad as arranged.  He never had food for us in his flat.  He would buy a take away for us (with a 6 pack of beer for him) and the leftovers would be the next days breakfast.  I learnt to drink tea and coffee at an early age because otherwise I would be thirsty.  There was no bed for my brother and I.  I would sleep on the sofa, fully clothed, under my coat, while my brother would sleep in my father’s bed, next to our passed out parent.  The heating would never be on, and the windows  were always open whatever the weather.  He didn’t have a tv.  There was nothing at his flat for us to do.  But he was our father and we wanted to spend time with him.  I think I kept going back hoping that one day he would want to spend time with us.

Finally, after years of rejection, after being compared to my mum (who was of course the source of everything bad in his life even 25 years after their separation), after his disappearances, drunken phone calls, policemen calling me to collect him from cells, I got the message.  My dad was never, NEVER, going to be a father.  He didn’t want to, or couldn’t be, a father.  It took a lot of time but eventually, after becoming a parent myself and then the death of his mother, I accepted this.

Although I have never thought of F i L as a father figure for myself, I get incredibly frustrated now when No.1 and No. 3 son’s don’t care for him.  They could point to my relationship with my dad and say “Your dad’s sick and needs help but you’re not doing anything to help him.  Why are you critical of us for doing the same as you?”  I ask myself this often.  They don’t appreciate that, despite his faults, F i L has been a good dad.  They don’t see their own failings as fathers, and continue to blame and reject him for his.  I genuinely tried for more than 35 years to have a relationship with my dad but he made it clear, via his actions, that he didn’t want the same.  F i L wants a relationship with all 3 of his sons. Only one of them can see that.  He’s the one that is caring for his dad.  He’s the one that can see his own failings.  He’s the one that has great, helpful, well-mannered, polite kids.  He’s the one I’m proud to call my husband.


One response to “Father’s Day

  1. I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. See today’s post on Let’s Talk About Family.

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