I find that I am forever finding and placing new pieces in the metaphorical jigsaw of my life, and in particular in the traumas I experienced. This week, as I reflected upon conducting the funeral of one of my parents’ oldest friends last Friday, more pieces fell into place.
As I listened to her son talk about his mum, I realised why it was that she kept a careful distance from my dad, and he from her. She knew. She knew full well what he had done to my mum, what he did continually throughout my parents’ marriage, and throughout my formative years. It all became very clear as I listened and the threads between the lives and events of these long time friends were woven together in my thoughts. The two couples had been a part of one another’s lives for over sixty years, even though they were ten years apart in age. I am sure my dad had looked up to his friend and tried to emulate his success. I could see dad’s life as an attempted copy or reflection of the older man’s. But my dad didn’t manage the success of his friend; his continual stream of extramarital relationships got in the way of that. Whereas his friend built up a business and built his own home, my dad lost his business and his home…our home. This was why I moved house seven times and attended five different primary schools before I was nine years old as my dad constantly tried to attain the success he saw in his friend, a level of success he could never attain.
I will not deny that it has been a difficult week, reflecting upon the past and seeing the pieces fall into place. I think the main difference is that I am now in a stronger place than I was twelve months ago to do this.
As throughout all this difficult time of revelation, there are so many questions I would like to ask my dad, but they will all remain un-uttered. He is old and he is frail and I cannot bring myself to make him face up to the things he has done and the pain he has caused.
And then there is next week. Next week presents a real challenge for me because Tuesday is dad’s birthday and I cannot just ignore it. Whatever he has done, whatever hurt he has caused, I will go and visit him on his birthday. I cannot not visit. It will be my first visit since he moved into residential care in March and I’m extremely apprehensive about coming face to face with him because I know how he easily he is able to emotionally pull me to pieces.
So I am not going to visit alone; Mick will be with me; my rock will be by my side. I thank God that with everything I went through in my early life, he sent me someone who has and who continues to walk alongside me through every grey day and through every storm I face.