I came across this on an old blog of mine, and thought it appropriate to post for Father’s Day and also National Parent’s Day on 26th July.
Once upon a time I had two dads, one with hard brown eyes and the other with soft ones.
The dad with the hard eyes was a police officer who worked long shifts. He had a short temper and shouted at us for making too much noise. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, long hours, four children, and a wage that was barely enough to support a family. I can see now why he was short-tempered and we didn’t do anything to help.
I hated it when mum used those words, “Wait till your dad gets home!” The sound of the front door closing made me dread those hard, flat, angry eyes. He would come looking for me and his usual words were – “Apologise to your mother,” or “Get up to your room now!”
It was worse when I got older and given a curfew. It wasn’t fair as all my friends came home when they liked. I couldn’t understand why my dad had to be different. He always insisted on knowing where I was going and who I was with. He disapproved of my ‘going to town’ because that was ‘his patch’ and he knew all the bad pubs and clubs. Without explanation he would ban me.
Now, I know he was being protective. It caused such caused conflict, I hated him laying down the law. These days, I understand why.
I wish he was back here with me now where we could talk about it, and I could tell him how I finally understood.
My other dad, the one with soft brown eyes, would make me laugh. “Give me your hand and I’ll tell your fortune,” he’d say. Then, it he peered into the palm it. “I can see a farmhouse.” I looked closely and saw nothing but criss-cross of lines. “And here,” he said, “is a pond.” Then he spat in my hand.
“Dad!” I screamed. I must admit it was funny when I watched him do it to my siblings.
Holidays were fun too. We’d walk up the hills, play on the top, and down the other side. We’d collect seashells on the beach and climb rocks. He built us, not only sand castles, but racing cars with seats and steering wheels. He’d bury us up to our necks, then watch us jump up and out as the sand scattered. He’d take us to a field where to chase moles that only he could see.
Wherever he went, we followed. He would do silly things like walk with a limp, and we’d copy him, or walk and suddenly stop, so we’d bang into him and each other.
Dad could not tell a joke because he’d always forget the punch line, or the laughter in his eyes gave it away.
The police officer finally hung up his helmet and the hard brown eyes became soft all the time. We grew up and left home, Dad and Mum went on to have a second family with four adopted children. They never saw the policeman with the hard eyes.
Eventually our Dad ran out of energy, and couldn’t run along beaches any more. He soon walked with a real limp.
We miss the laughing eyes and the bad jokes, and hope wherever he is, he’s still making the children laugh.