A reflection after Fathers’ day
I lost my Dad at a relatively young age. I was 24 and he was 48. He died of a massive heart attack in the back of a stranger’s car, in a strange country. I don’t remember who phoned me with the news; if it was his then-estranged wife, or his new Zambian wife, or maybe my aunt. I do remember sitting down on the stairs after hearing the news, wondering what I was supposed to do. First I had to tell my Mom, and then we had to tell my baby brother, who at the time was out of the city. This happened on Saturday. I was a part-time lecturer at the University, and then sick with bronchitis. Still, I went in on Monday to teach my usual classes and found it very strange that the students and other lecturers were surprised that I showed up. Years later I finally understood why – someone who just lost their father was not supposed to show up for work.
I guess that explains how I felt during that time. Very confused, not really knowing if I should grieve or not. My Dad and I had a very strange and strained relationship. For the last 15 or so years we barely spoke, and when we did it usually ended with us fighting, me being angry, or disappointed. He was a complex man, and so many of the things he did in life I could not agree with. But I must also admit he was a loving man. If he put his mind to it he could have been a great dad. Just sorry life always got in the way. Although we had a bad relationship, he still had a profound influence on my way of thinking, the way I approach the world and handle people. He was a wise man, for all his faults, and many of the sayings and proverbs I still use I learned from him. He was also a patient man, respected animals, and loved nature. Many of the characteristics and quirks I love about myself I know I inherited from him. My quick temper as well.
Somedays when I look at my youngest daughter I can see him. She tends to look just like him when she tilts her head in a certain way. My eldest’s love for animals and the great outdoors also come from him. I often wish he could have met them, he would have loved them. And maybe then he would have had the opportunity to right the wrongs he did in my life, after all, kids give us the opportunity to be better, and grandkids even more so.
I miss him every day and wish I handled the last time I saw him differently. Sitting at his cremation in a strange country, with very strange ideas and ways, I wondered what he would have said if he was sitting next to me. And I laughed out loud because I knew he would have found it just as bizarre as I did. Apparently, my warped sense of humour is also hereditary.
Dads, be good to your daughters. Moms, allow them to be. And daughters, appreciate your Dads, even if you do not agree with them. Love should ask no questions.
Happy belated Fathers’ Day to all the good Dads, and to the bad Dads – now is the time to be better.