My father was a good man. He loved us. Many people told us that because they seemed to think we were oblivious to it. But of course we knew, how couldn’t we- He loved everyone. Women, especially. He was one great ocean of love and anyone who could carry it, was welcome to walk down and fill their bucket.
My father was a bad father. His own passed very early after a turbulent relationship. He could relate to his father as poorly as his children many years later and in both cases, the generation gap was so obvious that no words carried across with their meanings intact. As a result, there was a lot of shouting. A lot of “why” and “how could you”.
None of us understood. He couldn’t understand why we lied and cheated like we did, and we couldn’t understand how he could, when faced with the choice between being a happy man and a good father, choose the former. We –my sister and I- spent much of our time fighting his reach for happiness, as it was paid for with our own. In retrospect, I suppose it is only natural that people would try and assure us of the fact that he did in fact, love us.
As little effort he put into shaping us in his image, as readily did we turn our back to it. Even if he would have searched with any determination, he wouldn’t have found anything in his children to be proud of- He wouldn’t see our accomplishments if we had any to begin with.
So as I grew up through my teenage years and similarities between him and I were found by others and myself, I readily denied them and insisted on proving otherwise. My interests, my love for women, the possibility of ever having children of my own: Not in this life. I wandered off on my own and did not look back.
Should it be so surprising then, now that I’m emerging from a darkness, to see my father in a different light and finding myself? At my young age it’s progressively less of a rarity to look back, inevitably in his direction, with a new understanding and without immediate anger. He on the other hand, is looking into the future when facing my way, and both are silenced as questions that ached for years, are answered with a slow whisper.
In my desperate struggle to be “different” from my example, I am happy to say I followed a path other than the ones laid out for me. I am very different from my father- People say he was different when my age too, but the contrast is still obvious. But now that I’m not so eagerly denying it, it is just as clear that after all, we are still two branches from the same tree.
He would have met my mother by now. They would be ready to start their family, ready for me. Things I regret having missed somehow. But I am free in thought and action, which he is equally jealous of. Now that I can talk to him as a man rather than a son, it’s becoming easier to talk about such things without having to raise a voice or deny the obvious. It’s taken me this long to see that there’s more to my father than a father.
My father is a good man. We speak rarely, but on good terms. He hopes I’ll have a good life despite my upbringing, and I hope the same for him now that my upbringing is no longer a concern. We can speak freely now, and now that I’ve walked away from him enough to tell the trees from the forest, we are closer than ever before. Bearing the loss of my mother fresh in mind, I am genuinely happy that at last now, I have a father to be proud of me. I’m happy I have someone to call to ask him to teach me how to drive a car.
And I am immensely relieved to have the privilege of knowing this before it is too late- Unlike he did.