I was the ultimate Daddy's girl growing up. He could do no wrong in my eyes. And I in his I guess.
He was the only person I wanted to please, the only person I wanted to be proud of me, nobody else mattered, not Mum, not brother, not sister, just him.
And then one day he literally packed and left. I was actually there when he was doing it although I wasn't aware at the time, I was desperately ill in bed with a kidney infection which was to lead to me being hospitalized that night. He was supposed to be at home looking after me while Mum was at work. Instead he was packing and taking things to my Grandma's. He told my Mum he was leaving when she came in from work, he told me as I was waiting for the paramedics to arrive to take me to hospital.
We didn't speak for about 4 or 5 years after that. It was my choice, I didn't know how to communicate with him anymore, couldn't process the way in which he behaved and I couldn't forgive him for what he'd done to Mum.
Eventually we cobbled together some kind of relationship. It's not the same and obviously won't ever be the same, he's not the same person to me anymore. I could stay angry at him for his behaviour when I was a child and a young adult (behaviour which I didn't really understand until I grew up myself and came to unblock memories and understand grown up actions more clearly) but I don't feel that would be productive. I could never speak to him again and if I explained my reasons I think people would feel that was perfectly reasonable. But you only get one father. I have friends who have lost their fathers and I feel it would be reckless of me to cast one aside, even if he isn't perfect.
The relationship we have now is good, if not exactly like a father/daughter relationship. It's hard to explain exactly how it is. I guess the closest is an uncle/niece relationship although not quite that distant. Somewhere in the middle I suppose. Whilst I see him as a figure of authority and offer due respect, his opinion doesn't matter to me as much as it once would have done. I've never been nervous about introducing him to boyfriends, most of the time they haven't been introduced at all, because it didn't matter to me what he thought, I'm far more nervous about introducing boyfriends to my brother. I tell Dad things about my life that I wouldn't tell Mum because I would worry that she would worry about me, whereas I don't feel like he would be as bothered - or not bothered, I just care much more about my Mum than I do for him I think.
But things are good. And getting better with time. The holiday last year in France that I took was the longest period of time I'd spent with him since he left when I was 16. That was a huge step forward for us.
I mentioned in my previous post that I am currently house-sitting for him and his wife whilst they are at the house in France. I was happy to do it and get my own space for a while but was unprepared for the blasts of nostalgia that have hit me when I've turned round corners or opened cupboards or walked through doors. Remnants of a life that could have been mine. That was mine.
Like these dogs. They used to sit on Dad's chest of drawers in Mum and Dad's bedroom. Every so often I would beg and beg for Dad to let me touch them. I had to go and sit quietly and calmly on the bed and he would get them down and bring them over to me and I would pat them on the head. When I got older I would hark back to those times and when Dad was getting ready for work in the morning and putting his tie on (taken from the top left drawer of the chest) I would ask to touch them again, he would lift them down and I would pat their heads, mimicking my childish ways, before running back to my room to get ready for school.
Now they're here. Sat on a different chest of drawers. When I picked them up and moved them to take the photo above I moved them ever so ever so carefully, feeling like I shouldn't really be touching them without adult supervision.
Or this owl mug. This used to be on Dad's desk at the University where he worked. He didn't used to drink out of it, it had pens in it. Pens that I would use when I came to his work on the odd occasion. I would draw on the whiteboard, quite the novelty for someone who went to a traditional school that still had chalkboards in the classrooms. I would sit and mess about, printing out pictures of the Friends cast to stick on my folders for school (I was probably responsible for most of the costs of printing at the university in those days).
Now it sits in a cupboard with the other mugs. The University is no more, Dad was made redundant a few years ago. When I opened up the cupboard and saw him for the first time, the nostalgia nearly bowled me over. I longed for those days when everything was happy.
And what about this chair? The chair that used to sit in the bedroom that Dad would hang his clothes over throughout the week, before hanging things back in the wardrobe or putting things in the wash at the end of the week. The chair that now sits in the hallway of a house I didn't grow up in.
It's hard to describe the feeling. Obviously I see things from my childhood at my Mum's all the time and it doesn't feel odd. I guess that's because I was never separated from them in the first place and also because they're still attached to Mum and therefore make sense. These items I haven't seen for 12 years and although they are at once familiar, they also feel strange because they're all in the wrong place.
There's more obviously. I could take you on a tour but I won't. I feel I've shared enough just this once.
Dad's coming back for 4 weeks in a couple of weeks time before going back to France until the end of August. I haven't decided yet whether I will go back home or stay with him here for a while. Although my instinct is to leave, maybe this is the opportunity to have a new kind of experience with him.
I hate being a grown up.