There was a time when I hero-worshipped my dad. Like any “normal” daughter would. (No comments about my being “normal” please! lol)
One of my fondest memories was when he would pick me up, swing me in the air, or spin me around like an “aeroplane” we would call it – the feeling in my stomach and the knowledge that I was special to him, just lovely. And when he bounced me on his knee. Until I couldn’t fit on it anymore! lol
My brother (OB) wasn’t privy to the same amount of attention from Da as I was. I knew it then, but I couldn’t do anything about it. But then again, OB got all the attention from Mom, and me, well, guess what…I didn’t care, she was a mean old woman, and I hated her (at that point).
At about the time I was 5, we were in an accident, not a serious one, but sitting in front, not wearing any seatbelts, I got off the worst – bruised leg, some glass shards in my arm…not too serious. Da ran to the doctor with me…poor OB was left in the back seat, mom had to take care of him coz he was ok. I was more important.
But then I went to school and things started changing. Dad was an absent father, he was more interested in his friends, socialising, soccer, cricket, tennis – whatever sports was being played, he was always on the team.
He was (and still is) a revered English teacher and loved his Shakespeare and the likes. Even ran a drama class at some stage. You cannot tell him anything about The Language (can you believe, he dubbed it THE LANGUAGE, bwhahahaaaa). No one spoke it, read it, understood it, knew it better than him. Oh no. Everyone literally bowed down before the lord and master of English and Eng Lit. They still do.
He cared about what people said. What was said in the newspapers about him, what was said wherever, whenever. His reputation and esteem in the community was important. So we couldn’t put a foot wrong, we had to behave and listen and be model children, want almal ken vir Mnr So&So, wat gaan die mense sê as ons skandes maak??!!. We took this job of “behaving” very seriously. We were almost perfect. Until much later of course ;).
Mom also never put a foot wrong in public, always the perfect Stepford Wife (in colour, OK?). Nevermind what was going on behind closed doors in this esteemed family. Blink kant bo, maar die onderkant stink so….
Going through school, I could never fly “incognito” because every blerrie teacher knew who my father (and my mother) was and of course, who I was. Because of Da’s great intelligence, everyone assumed I was just as intelligent with his penchant for THE LANGUAGE, literature and drama. I have never been anything of the sort – I could read, write and speak it. Not according to his exacting standards, enough to get by. Tried poetry. It was atrocious, so I aborted. Tried doing the drama thing – whoo, was that a bugger-up. I aborted that too. Thank goodness. I wouldn’t have been able to handle the pressure lol!
I tried being what he wanted me to be. Until I of course grew up and realised I must be my own person, whether he liked it or not. Okay, THAT only happened recently.
Where once I admired the fact that my dad was popular and seemingly well-loved, I later realized that we were actually suffering for it. I started resenting him as he was never around for us. He never supported us in what we wanted to do, what we were good at. Broer and I were excellent swimmers. We were asked to join the local swimming team. He didn’t show any interest. We dropped from the team after a while
I tried ballet – which I also had to give up – once again due to shortage of funds and it was just too logistically difficult for them to get me to classes 3 days a week. Everything we tried – if it wasn’t any of the mainstream sports – there was just no interest.
Of course, his fall from grace in my books happened much sooner than with your avg daughter. I was about 9. I won’t go into the details. But it was instant. He went from hero to zero in one fell swoop. Unbelievably, once my eyes had opened to his fallibility, I kept on discovering more. By the time I was a teenager, I despised him. I think I even hated him.
We didn’t have much of a relationship. Lots of screaming, fights, beatings. That was what he did. There was no talking, just a snot klap or a fist when required. While OB was at home he could still prevent the beatings. Once he left, there was no one to protect me. Baby boet was too small to intervene. I was relieved to leave that house.
When my Mom died I blamed him. I accused him of killing her. Of wanting her dead. She wasn’t fitting into his life anymore. And he wanted her money. I believed it irrevocably damaged our relationship. I didn’t care. He meant nothing to me. He deserved what he was getting.
I only changed after the armed robbery. Life changes in an instant, you realise what’s important. Having a gun held against your head does that to you.
I went to him. I didn’t ask for forgiveness. I just hugged him. That’s all we needed. At some point, words are not needed anymore.
We get along better now. I love him with all my heart. I will do anything for him. He isn’t perfect. But who is? I am most certainly not. How can I hold whatever he did against him? He will atone for what he did / omitted to do, some day. I will not stand in judgment of him. I’ve forgiven him. I’ve moved on. OB cannot understand this. Baby sis has her own issues with him. They have to find their peace with him.
We spent the day together yesterday. I prepped all his favourite dishes because he asked. It nearly killed me while doing it, but seeing him enjoy it so much made me unbelievably happy.
I realised that he’s getting old. He’s not as spritely and as agile. He’s not as healthy anymore. Still razor-sharp, though! But we need to spend more time with him. We need to slow down a bit. Smell the roses. Build on the memories. Build on erasing all the negative ones.
We now have a standing arrangement for breakfast every second weekend. It’s a start.