Father’s Day

I think I remember buying the card. It seems both so long ago and so recent that the past and present bump up against one another as strangers and acquaintances simultaneously: ‘Hey! Don’t I know you?’

It was long before phone calls were a thing of such nondescript ordinariness that it meant nothing to chat for hours to somebody whose daytime meant you were in the middle of your night. No, when I bought that card, a generation ago, phone calls meant – usually – terrible news, for it is true: it does always travel fast: Bad news.

My news came a week after Father’s Day. Which is why, when we got home afterwards, the card I’d bought lay there, on dad’s desk, the envelope slit open and weighted by the paper knife that had slit it, the card propped up against a jam jar of pens. 

And it came, that news, perhaps two weeks after I’d browsed the aisles at WH Smith and bought my card and inscribed it and licked the envelope and sealed it and purchased a stamp in the post office in Fenchurch Street and dropped it into the red lipped mouth of the post box. Hoping as I did so, that it’d arrive in time. It mattered so much, later, that it had.

Your dad’s had an accident, said the voice at the other end of the line when I picked up the call at work that day.

It never occurred to me it might be that sort of accident. Never. Not for a moment. I think now it would; I think that occasion, that single experience, is what prompted my habit now to catastrophize. Now I understand the possibility for tragedy is everywhere.

No, he is dead.

And then you know life will never be the same again. There will be gaps and holes and you will always know after that that life has the propensity to gouge new ones. That plans will be tripped up. That you will never share your 21st birthday with your father’s 50th because he never made it that far: he was 47.

I remember saying to somebody at the time, I will never survive losing my mother. There will never be a father like mine.

But I am losing my mother. By painful degree.  And I am surviving it.

And there is another father both like mine and unlike him. I love him just as hard. He is just as important presence in my children’s lives as dad was in mine. The only difference, thankfully, oh so thankfully, is that he has stuck around for longer.  He is almost 62.

So sometimes, even when you think you’re unlucky, you’re also lucky.  


2 Responses to “Father’s Day”

  1. Addy Says:

    I still miss my Dad terribly even though his death was 20 years ago. I know Kay misses hers too as he has not seen her graduate, seen her succeed in her career and will never know her boyfriend or walk her down the aisle. Fathers Day never gets forgotten, but then you never forget your father. Sending hugs.

  2. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Dear Addy, thank you XXX

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