By Suzi Barton
It’s Father’s Day this Sunday. All the shops are full of male oriented cards and gifts and as I look at them I think back all those years and try to picture my own father’s face.
He was a kind man, my father, full of life and always joking. I was the typical ‘Daddy’s Girl’, the apple of his eye. And boy, did I know it.
I would climb onto his knee and tell him all my secrets and he would sing nursery rhymes to me and call me his little princess. He would hold me safely in his freckled arms; tight and strong. I loved him dearly. Everyone who knew him did.
I recall the pain on that horrible day when the policeman knocked at the door and whispered something to Mother, then gently, led her to the sofa and comforted her as she broke down in tears. The following weeks passed in a blur of comforting. Friends comforting mother, relations comforting mother, my elder brother and I comforting mother but looking back no one actually bothered to comfort me. We survived though, the three of us. Somehow.
We leaned on each other quite a lot in those early days and brought each other through the hurt and sadness. My brother was a lot of years older than me and it seemed like no time at all before he left me also; moving away to university to complete his studies.
In such a short space of time my life had altered dramatically.
Where once there had been the four of us, now there were only two and I was still too young to really understand why.
In my juvenile mind I believed my brother had deserted me forever as well, just like father had done, but in this case there was no gravestone to take flowers to. I always enjoyed visiting my father’s grave. I would sit close to the headstone as if I was once again sitting on his knee confiding in him all the joys and trials in the world of a little girl. Then, Steve entered my life.
For a long time I did not realise that Steve was actually my mother’s boyfriend, I guess that they must have left all the lovey-dovey stuff until I was safely tucked up in bed. All I can remember is that once again life seemed brighter and there were picnics and visits to the seaside. Steve would help me to build sandcastles and hold my hand as I paddled, whilst mother looked on, a triumphant smile on her lips as if I had just won the obstacle race on the school sports day.
At first I quite liked Steve, but then as I grew older, I must have realised his true intentions and I started to hate him with a vengeance.
Whenever the opportunity arose I always made sure that I caused as much trouble as was possible.
I would bunk off school as often as I could, my illnesses increased; all imaginary of course but at least it kept mother all to myself. She would tuck me up in bed with a nice hot water bottle to cuddle and then spend the next few hours running up and down the stairs acquiescing to my every whim. Somehow, I miraculously recovered as soon as Steve went home.
I also took it on myself to make sure that mother had fewer nights out with Steve too, as I formed little plans to keep her at home with me. Then came the fateful day that mother told me that she and Steve were going to be married and Steve would be my new father. I didn’t want a new father. I already had one and, as before, I went to visit him and sat on the cold marble. I poured out all my troubles.
My teenage years were ever turbulent. I refused point blank to call Steve ‘Father’ and would never take any notice when he issued ultimatums. Staying out late and doing as I pleased was my forte. It was mother that he had married, not me and I felt no allegiance with him at all. That was until I met Karl.
Karl was the love of my life and I knew that we would be together for life. We went everywhere together for three whole weeks, until finally, he two timed me with another girl at the Youth Club. I was heartbroken.
I could not see how life could possibly go on and in my adolescent depression I felt totally alone.
Steve seemed to know how I was feeling and he brought me mugs of hot chocolate and boxes of tissues and his own advice. Even though I did not want to hear it, he still insisted on telling me, explaining softly, over and over again until I listened, how through time, broken hearts do mend and life does go on. It wasn’t until a long time later when eventually, I found my soul mate in Martin, and I realised that Steve’s words were all true.
This Sunday it is Father’s Day and it will be the day I send Steve the card that I know he has coveted for a long time. This Sunday will also be my wedding day, and it is a day that Martin and I chose especially to tie the knot. For this Sunday will be the day that I walk down the aisle on my new father’s arm.