For everyone who has a great, still living father, Father’s Day is an enjoyable day. For everyone else it’s filled with grief and resentment.
I fall into the latter group.
I’ve never had a decent dad, just, as a psychologist once said, a ‘psychopath’. He turned up to make your life miserable and then disappeared. I broke this pattern as a teenager by cutting him off. I was tired of his attempts at manipulation and his disappointment that I wouldn’t succumb.
A few weeks ago I learned my paternal grandfather had died. My half-sister laughed at my immediate fist-pump reaction. The world is a much better place without him. He was the meanest person I knew. At the same time I found out my father was living it up in a tropical paradise having built himself a mansion with a swimming pool. Despite his material wealth, I hoped he was was emotionally miserable without contact with his family, including his daughters.
When looking at the fathers on both sides of my family I can come up with exactly zero model dads. All of them have either periodically or totally abandoned their children. (This at least partly explains why I forget that there are some nice men out there.)
Father’s Day has always been a reminder that good fathers are a rare breed and that envy is an ugly thing. But this year has been a little different. Instead of the annual negativity surrounding this day, I’ve seen a real life good father up close.
My brother-in-law became a dad to my niece in February. Nappy changing, burping, feeding – he does it all. He’s surpassed my admittedly rather low expectations. Not that I thought he’d be a bad father, just that ‘father’ is synonymous with ‘bad’ to me. He’s literally the best father I know, and I told him so. It felt wonderful to finally associate something positive with this annual celebration.
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