I sat down today to write a lockdown blog. It was going to be something ranty and ravey about why the bastarding-hell all our kids aren’t back in school yet… but then my Dad rang me when I was mid flow. All of a sudden I didn’t feel so angsty. And in fact now,this blog has turned into a good old Father’s Day slush-fest about my weird but undoubtedly wonderful Dad.
For my entire youth, I tried to hide from people the fact that my Dad wasn’t my ‘real’ Dad. Oh how I fucking hate that term!
There may be school friends of mine who read this blog today and say; “what!? You never told me that!?” And I’m ashamed now to say…I felt ashamed back then. I’ve unpicked these reasons over the years using my astute amateur psychology skills, but I’ll save those for another blog!
The fact of the matter is that my Dad came into my life when I was a toddler after my Mam had been left high and dry (by he who we politely call ‘the sperm donor’) when she was aged only 19.
It took me up until I was about 25 before I started to tell people without embarrassment that my Dad had not been in my life since day one. It wasn’t a snap decision, but a dawning realisation that rather than being covert about it; I should be shouting it from the rooftops.
This absolute legend of a bloke didn’t get me foisted on him by genetics… he bloody well chose to love me (even though I was apparently horrible to him when he first came on the scene!). Not only that; when he and my Mam split up when I was eight; he chose yet again, to keep me. Because I was his. There was never a time where he picked my brother up for the weekend and left me behind. In fact he has never for one minute given me reason to think he views me and my brother (who is genetically his)any differently… in fact I have a sneaking suspicion he prefers me. Sorry Jack.
I remember the first time I realised my Dad was something special. We were on a family holiday… I’m going to hazard a guess and say we were in Benidorm. I must’ve been about seven. In the hotel bar one night, some bloke was giving out racist abuse to the staff. Instead of picking a fight with the moron; my dad got up on the karaoke. Course he did. “What you singing?” said the compere? “I’d like to dedicate this song to that fella over there” my Dad pointed. “It’s called Ebony and Ivory.”
That’s my dad. Mad as a box of frogs, but principled as fuck. I love that about him.
Becoming a parent has made me appreciate what Dad has done for me even more. Because as much as I try to convince myself; I don’t know that I have the same capacity for love within me. Could I really truly love a child I didn’t produce as much as one that I did? I will probably never know.
That initial rejection from my biological father effected me more deeply than I ever truly let on… and would you believe the person I could turn to when I needed to talk about that… was my Dad? When I was about twenty my biological father made a fleeting reappearance and although I wanted to get to know him; I was crippled with guilt about how my Dad might feel. If he felt any sadness, he never showed it. He actively encouraged me to explore it. To find the answers I thought I needed. And when it didn’t work out and I felt rejected by my biological father all over again, guess who was there to pick up the pieces?
What a gift my Dad has given me.
Unconditional love, unconditional fun, unconditional support. Every day.
Seeing Dad with my kids is one of the biggest joys in my life. There is nobody quite as crackers as him and he makes them cry laughing every time they’re in his company. And not just at his dress sense… although that is questionable to say the least.
He was always quite typically ‘working-class-Geordie-gerrahadayaselandstopwhinging’ with me and Jack. But he’s so soft with the kids. Free and easy with the ‘I love you’s’ and the ‘I’m proud of you’s’… we couldn’t ask for anything more.
Thank you Dad. There’s nobody in my life more ‘real’ than you.