My grandmother had been over from Adelaide, and of course, had always kept in touch with me. So I met her when I was 14. Apparently she had last seen me when I was about five, but I do not remember that. Wise, woman, she took me, and a friend, for a day out. We went to Manly Fun Pier, then on the way home we brought a present for my little brother.
All went well for a few weeks, then my father decided he wanted to meet me. My mother drove my (no friends this time) over to The Rocks, pointed out a man standing by a VW Beetle, said 'That's your father' and took off after dropping me off.
So, he really could have been anyone, I wouldn't have known any better.
Remember I used to call my grandparents Mum and Dad. Well, of course, I was down to just 'Dad'.
So, what do you call a total stranger purporting to be your father when you already have one? It's an embarrassing one, that. Mostly, and for a long time, I didn't call him anything.
We went to Manly again, but it wasn't the same, being with a total stranger. Didn't help when I got home and my mother started up with all the old feelings of hate and Blah Blah.
So, I have a 'Dad', I've got this 'father' and mum is going on, 'oh yeah, where has he been all these years then, hey?' Plus worse, that I won't even commit to public scrutiny at present.
Didn't help me, though. I had a lot of anger. I went to Adelaide with him and his second wife when I was fifteen. She had drinking problems, too. It was always awful, especially around new years' eve. This first trip to Adelaide, I got drunk by about 7PM, and the nice family friends put me to bed before Nana arrived. Funny how I lay in that dark room and the lights went round and round...
Vicki got drunk, started teasing my father and he punched her. Not good.
I taught myself to call my grandfather Grandpappy, the name he had chosed for himself when my cousin was born. He was a bit of a joker, like his son, my uncle Chris. I learnt to swallow hard and force the word Dad out in my father's presence.
I became a Christian at seventeen and learnt that I should honour my mother and father. I don't want to look like I am not honouring them, I do, actually honour both of them. They both have their own issues, and I am only writing what happened in my life...
Anyway, being a Christian I got along a lot better with my Nana, and I went to Adelaide again with Dad and Vicki when I was eighteen. The bad feelings about my father still existed, though.
One day I had the audacity to ask my nana just where my father had been when I was growing up. I really shouldn't have, she was as sharp as a scalpel!
According to Nana, he used to ring my grandparents up and tell them he was coming, and they would take me away for the day. Now, many years later, Dad and I can talk about things because he is a widower, and he says things went sour one Sunday when his mate took him out in his new racing boat and he was half an hour late getting me home. Apparently Grandpappy and Big Al had wanted to go out and He was making them late...
Anyway, Nana's explanation put it all to rest, and I was able to slowly love and respect my dad. Mind you, New year's eve was a shocker... Dad's best friend and wife, who were also Vicki's sister and brother-in-law, were with us in Adelaide. Dad's best friend, Norm, was trying to show me some constellations, and I just couldn't see them. Vicki was standing behind me saying 'can't you shee them, linda. You're Shtupid.'
I must have been stupid, because I took that for about five minutes before I snapped 'Oh yeah, I see them now. Thanks.' and stormed off.
At midnight Vicki had overstepped the mark again and was lost in the dark in Nana's big back yard. You could hear her howling as we were looking for her...
Anyway, mum made Dad pay for my wedding. on the night, at the reception, I kept wandering out on to the front balcony, only to be shooed back in by my dressmaker. I thought it was weird. When it came time to go, she told me I'd better say goodbye to my father. Turns out he had Vicki firmly seated in the back seat of the veedub, because she was so drunk she was looking for trouble. (And it wasn't even hogmannay.)
Just before we left to come to New Zealand (to live on a farm and have babies, remember?!?) I put on a big meal for Fathers' Day. Spent two days preparing it, and I had bought Dad a pewter beer mug with glass bottom. The nice man at Nock and Kirby's had engraved it beautifully - to Dad, happy father's day (aslant) love from Linda and Ken.
He cried when he opened it, and next day there was a thankyou card at work...
Relationships can be healed, sometimes they just take time.
See? He did visit me when I was little...
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