Father's Day card from Cliff

Here it comes again, lumbering towards me, totally unavoidable, laden with emotions; good, bad and ugly. From ‘this is going to be really special’ to ‘does he even care’ to ‘I don’t want to think about him on Sunday or any day’.

Next Sunday is Father’s day, here in Australia. Not anywhere else. Not in England, where my old man is living out his days. In most other countries the day that’s dedicated to dad happens on the third Sunday in June. It’s an American idea that, to me, has always reeked of commercialised nonsense.

Can you tell I’m not a fan?

Truth be told, it’s only since moving hemispheres that my disdain has really kicked in. Given the date differential I would try to ignore it, while also dreading it, feeling pressured and confused as to what exactly to do. Should I send him a card? Will he care? What if it doesn’t get there on time? What if he doesn’t understand why I’ve sent it? And laden with questions, I’d slide into a Dr Seuss-like no-place: Where the Pebbles in your mind, Rattle you blind. Paralysis by analysis. An emotional nothing-space that’s heavy and empty and forever unfulfilled. Someone decided to mess with the dates and it would send me into a tailspin.

Cliff and his dad

I’d try to negate its presence , make it just another Sunday and, in doing so, pretend the day, and he, didn’t matter. There I sat, plonked at the intersection of guilt, love, inertia and plain old-fashioned missing. Smarting. And while I would attempt to justify these mixed and muddled feelings, I’ve come to realise, as with most things in life, this was down to me. What a plonker.  Self-inflicted pain always stings that much more.

Now, having become a dad in the last few years, I’ve realised something fairly fundamental that only a parent can know. It’s only when we become a father that it dawns on us, through every cell in our sleep-starved bodies, just how much he must have loved me. However much he might have fucked me up, in his way he loved, and, fortunately for me, continues to love me, a lot. So, whether it’s Father’s Day there or not, I’ve realised why I must celebrate my dad and the yards he’s put in for me over the years.

I’m well aware that not everyone can speak of having a decent, loving father in their lives. This is the sad truth of life. It’s far from perfect. To all you out there doing it tough, who were denied the opportunities, the care, the nurturing arms that a loving father can bring, I salute you. Yes, you are, in many ways, alone. You may have been gifted snippets of paternal love from others; your friends, relatives, your double-amazing mums but it will never equate. You were ripped off. That said, it may well be worth considering who’s been there for you over the years, mentored you, held your hand, guided you. To remind them of how dad-like they’ve been for you, even if not, perhaps, quite often enough, is the ultimate compliment.

In writing this it has become crystal clear that I need to get in touch. And what better excuse than this. It’s so easy, yet the myriad forms of communication, conceived to bring us closer just don’t really cut it. They don’t say ‘i care’ quite enough do they. A letter, a card, handwritten, sealed with care, sent in advance, with no expectations. Something like a Father’s day card.

Right, I’m off to the post office. Remember them?

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