17 June 2018

Father's Day without a Dad

Fathers Day is always a poignant day for me. I've never written about this, but this year it finally felt like the right time.

Now this isn't a woe is me piece, but it's cathartic for me to write about and I hope, by sharing that it allows an understanding of what it is like to be without a parent at any point in your life.

My Dad passed away when I was 17 and I hadn't spoken to him for two years. He was an alcoholic and that made our relationship somewhat strained. It's hard enough for a teenager to have a relationship with a parent at the best of times, but with an alcoholic in your life, it makes it a tad more turbulent.

I saw him only at weekends, if he turned up, he was mostly drunk and palmed me off into the care of various girlfriends kids/nieces to keep me occupied. Or when there were no girlfriends around, we would sit in the pub, I would have a comic and as much pop and as many packets of crisps as I could consume. They were the best days!

I blamed myself for many years that I hadn't spoken to him for two years before his death, now however I recognise that I was the child and he was the parent, even though I was 15. He knew where I was and could have come to me at anytime. The trouble with alcoholics is that they suffer from a mental illness and addiction, and what may seem logical to you or I, would not necessarily compute for them.

I often wonder, if he was still alive now, whether we would have any kind of relationship. Would he have met his grandchild? Would he be proud of the life I have made for myself? Or would he be a distant figure, disrupting from a distance. I will never know.

There are days that are particularly hard when you have lost a parent, for me, Fathers Day, birthday's (theirs and mine), anniversaries of their passing, when you need someone to walk you down the aisle (even if it ended in divorce!) and sometimes when you just need to feel safe and need a hug.

It's been 20 years and I still miss him. Well I say miss him, I miss the good bits I can remember of him - which isn't much sadly.
But as those of you who have lost a parent will know, no one can replace the original - no matter how crap they may have been. For me, I think the loss is a feeling of wanting to have the relationship with a Dad - the type I see my friends have, or my partner has with his daughter - someone who loves you endlessly no matter what.

I am very lucky that I have a great Step Dad in my life, who has been around since I was 9 and we now have a great relationship. I send cards and gifts and always refer to him as my Dad. I also have a great partner who I genuinely think is the best Dad I know.

So Fathers Day for me is about celebrating the great Dad's I do have in my life. I'm so precious of the day that my partner gets, making sure he is appreciated and knows how loved he is. But also that the children know how lucky they are to have such a great man in their lives.

So for those of you who find days like today tough, they don't get easier but they do become more tolerable. Some years are worse than others, some years a day will pass without you noticing and thats okay too. But however you are feeling, it's okay and you're not alone.

By Rhi @rhifreshing_

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