First of all I'd like to wish all the fathers a very happy day today. My daughter has telephoned her father from New York where she is celebrating the day with her four year old daughter's father. My son is coming for dinner so my husband has not been forgotten on his special day.
Today I've seen a lot of tributes to fathers on people's blogs. I have found it quite delightful to read some of these special pieces and see the strong bonds that were forged between some people and their fathers; bonds that are remembered even long after they have died.
I am always envious when I hear others speak so delightfully of the relationship they had with their fathers. For this was not my reality.
I felt I hardly knew my father. He went to work for long hours as a machinist for the railway department and when he was home he spent all his time in our garden which was his pride and joy, but of little interest to me. My parents should have been divorced but that was not possible for monetary considerations I suppose. Today's expression which would best describe our family was "working poor". So because of practical reasons I guess, I interacted more with my mother than with my father. The one thing for which I am forever grateful to him is that he insisted that I complete my schooling to the highest level. So I matriculated and later attended university.
When I was 17, my father, who came from Scotland to Australia as a child, at age 48, suffered what was then called a nervous breakdown. In actual fact he fell into a deep clinical depression and was institutionalized. Funnily enough, during this time we became closer, as I visited him every week. The year was 1953 and no antidepressants were available and the only treatment was electric shock treatment which was not administered in the safe way and for the short period of time, as it is now. My father was terrified of it and he was given this treatment on and off for six months. Finally he could no longer endure it and he drowned himself in the river which ran through the institution's grounds. This was December 11th, 1953, so Christmas was a rather painful celebration for my mother, brother and myself for quite a few years.
Mostly I don't think about my father very much, after 53 years. I don't even have a photo of him and no one is still alive who remembers him. Not even my brother. But lately I have been thinking about him and trying to get up courage to write about this. Today seemed like the right time for it, although I don't want to put the damper on the celebration of the day. But it is the day to remember your father, even if he is no longer with you.
So today, as the card above says, I am thinking about my father, despite the fact that it is a rather painful memory. I have always hoped that he achieved in death the peace that he was not able to find in his life.