WARNING: This is pretty heavy stuff. You may not want to read this.
My father is 63 years old this year. That’s older than the average age of dads of people my age.
My father is flawed. This is a fact that I acknowledged early on as a child. No, I don’t remember a time when I thought my father was ‘Superman’, that he could do no wrong. In my family, we were very realistic when it came to what we could expect from people, even at a young age. I knew right from wrong, I knew what raised voices meant. I knew what psychological warfare was. Maybe that’s why I’m scarily good at it. Much like the analogy of the frog in boiling water, I grew comfortable in a situation, despite the ‘heat’ being applied.
But unlike that frog, I understand my situation.
My father never came to a lot of my ‘things’ when I grew up. My mother was always there. My father never showed up for plays, or school events. He’s only ever been there for one, in total. But, I never blamed my dad: he had to work. He was the sole provider, not because my mother didn’t want to work.. he just never let her. The only times my mother was allowed to hold down a job was those sporadic months when money was so tight, we needed for her to go out to work. Nowadays, she works with my dad, as a nurse in his clinic. And that’s not a bed of roses either.
I was never ‘close’ to my father. I hated the idea of being ‘daddy’s girl’. My mom always said he was partial to me because I was the youngest, and the girl of the family. I wanted to prove people wrong. But with time, I realised that it is so important to forge a relationship with your parents, regardless of how others perceive it. I had to work to spend time with my dad. He would always say that my brother and I were closer to my mom, something we couldn’t help because she was ‘always around’. I would literally work hard to find conversation topics so my dad wouldn’t feel left out.
I still do that now. I look out for times when he isn’t really included in the conversation, and try to drag him in. I hate the idea that he would consider himself a stranger in his own family.
My dad came from this massive family of siblings, maybe 14 altogether. For certain reasons to do with how they were brought up and the way his sisters treated his father, my dad does not speak to them. He barely speaks of them. He is practically isolated from his family. All he has is us.
That probably causes some resentment for him because my mom is very close to her family. There are times when he would get mad that my Lola is here, or that my uncle comes to visit. After more than 20 years of marriage, he’s finally nicer about it, but there are days when he just shuts himself away, and that leads to so much pain for my mom. It’s a terrible thing to say, but because my parents aren’t ‘happily married’, I am quite averse to the idea for myself.
My father is a doctor but he wanted to be a vet. My father wanted to specialise in paediatrics, but he followed crap advice and ended up in a field he isn’t too keen on. His life has conditioned him to be angry at so many things, and he refuses to seek professional help to deal with this.
My father is stubborn, he can be bitter, and has passed down that same emotional imbalance to my brother and I.
If this family crumbles within the next few years or decades or whatever, I will not blame either parent. Sometimes life is just too difficult that stepping out of a situation is what’s best. I truly believe that. At the end of it all, he is still my father, and I love him, regardless of how screwed up our family life is. I will always love him.
I know this post is haphazard. I know it’s heavy and that I may not be wise in publishing this. Another member of my medical school cohort lost her father yesterday. And I just needed to reflect on mine.
Just a tiny bit of advice: call your parents today, if you have both or either one still living. No matter how broken or how great your relationship with them is, just call them, or leave them a message. Life is too short.