I’ve never been a big fan of Fathers Day if I’m honest.
My Dad was very much absent for most of my adult life and only around in fits and spurts for my childhood. My parents divorced when I was five years old, my Dad was an alcoholic with five children from three failed marriages and I was his youngest. You can perhaps understand why he didn’t win ‘Dad of the year’ (or husband for the matter).
Seemingly unimportant now but worth acknowledging to lay some foundation for my early dislike of Fathers Day. I didn’t have a sitcom up bringing with the perfect little family sitting down for meals at the end of the day with my Dad freaking out over boyfriends and homework, I doubt many of us did. I did have a happy childhood though and have some fond memories of both of my parents but I also have some darker memories that I choose to block out. I’m really good at blocking out crap memories, I won’t go into them though (I’ll save them for my therapist).
Fathers Day, for me, used to be something that was quite forced. Some invisible peer pressure was telling me I had to buy (or make) a card and pick up some tat from the supermarket that said ‘Best Dad’ on it followed by an obligatory visit to see said Father for half an hour before resuming normal service. In later years this was all aimed at my mothers second husband and was even more forced and resented. By the time I reached my twenties I stopped acknowledging Fathers Day altogether. What was the point? My Dad didn’t actually care, one of his greatest qualities was actually not giving two shits about gifts and cherishing the time you spent with him instead He was quite a lonely soul.
And then on Christmas Day 2016 he died. It was all a bit sudden as he had gone to the doctor with complaints of severe constipation only two weeks before and a short fortnight later at about midday on Christmas Day, with me at his side, he took his last breath. Bowel cancer. Unsurprising for a man who smoked 40 a day and drank alcohol to excess for 50 plus years. He was 72 years old and I’m actually amazed he lived that long.
Grief is like a long journey on a dusty old smelly train that appears to be going nowhere but keeps stopping at really shit places for what seems like eternity until you creep onward to another equally shit destination. This is by far my favourite analogy of grief. Society believes that by the time the funeral is over and done with we have all moved on and cried all our tears. Grief doesn’t budge an inch though. Ever. It just moves around your existence for eternity morphing into different shapes and memories and events and random moments where you inexplicably find yourself having a cry while peeling carrots on a random Sunday in September?!
In the wonderful words of my therapist “Grief is fucking shit!” (she too had lost her Mum a few years before I turned up at her door in a big sobbing heap of grief).
Anyway, that long grumble wasn’t the point of this post. This morning when I woke up I was actually looking forward to Fathers Day for the first time in years. I gave my handsome husband a card from the ‘bump’ and a Toblerone (his favourite) with a Fathers Day themed message on it. I wasn’t dreading the day for fear of old grief dominating my mood and making me hide from the world, deleting all social media apps so that I didn’t have to see all the gushing Fathers Day posts and ending up emotionally eating my way through the day. (I would normally drink my way through but wine is off the table for a few more months).
Fathers Day will never be the same again for me or for my husband. It will change because I choose to change it (and the obvious becoming parents thing). Our past experiences don’t have to define our future memories and I am sure as hell not spending the next fifty years grieving the loss of my part time father on this day, instead I’m going to celebrate all the good eggs in mine and my babies lives with chocolate and unnecessary tasteless cards that cost more than the bin bag that they’ll end up in (jokes: we recycle of course!)
If you find today tough please know that you are not alone. Just get through it in whatever way works for you.
Mrs G x