I didn't know you had a Dad
“I didn’t know you had a dad” “I didn’t know she had a dad” What should I have said at family gatherings? While you talked about how your Dad woke you up with breakfast everyday, should I have told you how our Dad was passed out on the sofa every morning? How we woke him wondering whether we’d be graced with Jekyll or Hyde that day? You counted the slices of toast on your plate, I counted empty glass bottles on the floor. In our house there were always three green bottles; Jacobs Creek, Yellowtail and Barefoot.
“You never talked about him” Lets share our childhood memories, reminisce on our pasts. When you were searching for your homework, football kit or school supplies every morning, we would search for twenty pence’s hidden behind the sofa Praying there would be enough for twenty Superking and one box of red. I don’t drink red wine, I can still taste his hangover on my lips And I don’t eat baked beans but for years I spent my pocket money on them, so we could eat while he had a liquid diet.
“You didn’t see him that much” Did you see the decade of calls that rung endlessly? The messages not always returned All the “Sorry something came ups” at the last minute? Did you see how I threw away all my moral stances? How we switched from fleeting meetings in coffee shops to hours in the pub? Just so we could talk? How he never understood that I could only drink one pint to his three? How he would text every other Sunday and I would ring every other week in the middle of the afternoon knowing there was a 50/50 chance he’d be sober?
“You weren’t that close” When I was three he taught me French When I was five he taught me to ride a bike When I was seven he taught me that books are medicine for the soul When I was nine we danced to Leonard Cohen in the kitchen
When I was eleven I asked “Daddy why do you drink”? And Daddy told me he was sorry but it would always be his first love. At seventeen I walked away, at nineteen I went back At twenty-one I waked away, at twenty three I went back. When I was twenty-one we held our own private graduation party, then it didn’t matter if he got drunk.
“Did he mean that much to you?” The best night of my life was the night he spent four hours in Wetherspoons with me, asked my hopes and dreams. He studied photos of my hobbies, travels and life. My favourite part of adopting our cat was how his face lit up when he met her. Every time we moved house I asked him round for dinner, but dinner never came.
When he died my phone flooded with messages of how his face beamed when he spoke of us How he told everyone when we found a new job, new house, achievement and I hope every day I had made him proud. I just wish he’d told me instead of the strangers in bars.
I study the photos of the better years each day, pondering where it all went wrong. I talk to him everyday because maybe now he’s watching.
“Your world hasn’t changed that much” He died too young to ever hold a grandchild Too young to drunkenly dance in the corner on my wedding day His Sunday text no longer tells me he's okay Every time I pass a Wetherspoons I think how I would buy him all the damn red wine if it gave us one more day. And I have learnt of the trauma that made him pour wine to his lips each night The demons that he never shared, hidden in his drunken mind. My heart hurts for the pain he never shared.
“I didn’t know you had a dad” Tell me what should I have said?