I’ve never met any of grandfathers, they both passed way before I was born. I don’t know much about them, only that they were loved and missed. It’s interesting to me that both my parents have a much sweeter image of their fathers than their mothers. But understanding the reasoning behind that is none of my business.
At 11 my father was left fatherless. He stopped being a child on that day. I can see the impact it had on him on his actions today.
My favourite thing I ever discovered about my father came to me a few years ago, on a Christmas Eve afternoon, while we all baked in the kitchen. He told me about how when he was a child, every Christmas, his father would buy a straw mattress and they would all sleep in the kitchen on Christmas night, surrounded by the empty wrappers of little chocolate cars. My father was the oldest boy of 7 children, but never went unnoticed on his own fathers eyes.
I was lucky enough to be his only child.
Growing up I was always told I looked like my father. I took that with pride, being compared to him was my greatest achievement, and to think I only had to be born to accomplish that. We were always similar on our lack of social abilities, I remember how every sunday we would go and visit family, due to my mothers insistence, and while she shared a cup of tea with her sister on the kitchen table, my father and I would wander off to wherever it was that the people weren’t. He would teach me words in French, talk about life before me and ask me questions about my own struggles. He always had a very subtle way to approach me and he’s one of the few people in the world that managed to poke my brain successfully.
The reason why he was ever able to do that, probably comes from the fact that we are too similar. Like me, he also fails to voice what he feels. It’s interesting to me that my father is the one who doesn’t truly seem in contact with his emotions and yet, out of the two, he was always the most affectionate. He will often put himself on hold just so that others can have enough room to feel whatever it is that they are feeling. He doesn’t need to have the loudest voice in the room, and if he can go on without having to do any small talk, he will.
He always did what it was required of him to do. Looking back, I realize that he spent an awful amount of time working far away from home. I didn’t really notice it growing up, guess he was really good at being present when he was indeed home. I remember being half asleep when he came into my room early in the morning and kissed my forehead before heading out to work. I remember him shaking my foot to
annoy me wake me up when I would refuse to get out of bed to go to church, every sunday morning. I remember him, seating on the edge of my bed on a very dark sunday morning, and breaking some terrible news to me. I remember how he stumbled on his words and told me that I could lay in bed for a little longer if I wanted to.
My father never asked for more of me than what he knew I could give.
He had to grow up quickly but independence didn’t quite came with it, so he had to fight for it. In his early twenties he would follow is big sister’s footsteps and move abroad. She was always the one he admired the most, that ended up rubbing of on me, she would go from his favourite sister to my favourite aunt. I don’t think we should be admitting to that, but it’s only true.
My second favourite thing about my father that I ever discovered, was how he would write my mother a love letter every week while he lived abroad. You could argue they were just letters, but my father does not write without love. I got that from him without even knowing it. I recall being very good at essays in school way before I ever found out he wrote as well. He once told me that he wished I could fulfill his dream and become a writer myself.
Writing too much and photographing too much are two of his traits that I was lucky enough to inherit. There always had to be a camera on our household and I was one of the few in my class that would be allowed to take the photography camera on a school trip. Way before me, my father would photograph weddings. My mother says he was good at it, she also say he lost his business for being too kind hearted. I can see that happening. My father doesn’t really bother to see the evil in the world, he’ll see them in movies and laugh at their stupidity, but somehow has a blindside for them in real life. So he’ll just live his life never truly believing someone can be out there with nothing but his best interest at heart. Never really believing he is relevant enough for someone else to try and take his place. While being absolutely indispensable.
He was always the first one I would fight with and, simultaneously, the first one I would agree with. I remember being very little and hearing my mother say that I got my bad temper from my father. I get it now. We argue in a very specific way. We both hate confrontation, so we’ll just give up on the fight while sticking to our argument and it somehow looks like we don’t care while inside we are cracking to cope with how we feel. Don’t quite know a lot of people like us. Thankfully for the world. I can see why my mother would frequently get frustrated in our household.
He was always the one to encourage my independence and always made sure I had a stable safety net. He would kick me out the window and be right on the floor to catch me if I failed to fly. But he always made sure I knew how to fly first. My father knows that we can love from afar. And doesn’t take my emotional distance as a personal offense – like my mother often does – somehow, he understands me. I must have been made in his own image, carved from inside out with his features. He’s always been kind to me and showed me the most love when I least deserved it.
He turns 54 today and I think he deserves a break. I’ve always been very protective of my father. Do you know how often girls will seek protection in their fathers arms? I’ve always wanted to be the one person who would give him a break. Life wasn’t easy on him, from losing his own hero at a very young age to being separated from the one’s he loved the most several times in is life, I’m one to think it’s about time he catches a breath.
I could write about him for hours. But I probably should stop writing and give him a call instead.
Happy birthday dad, you will always be my hero.