I came across this on an old blog I used to keep, and thought it appropiate to post for Father’s Day.
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 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,
“Apologise to your mother,” or “Get up to your room now!” Was what he usually said.
It was worse when I got older and given a curfew, as all my friends were allowed to come home when they liked. Dad always wanted to know where I was going and who I was going with. He disapproved of my ‘going into 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 and although it caused conflict, I hated him laying down the law.
Now I just wish he was back here with me 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 shall tell your fortune,” he would say. Then taking hand he’d peered at it, “I can see a farmhouse,” I looked closely and saw nothing but a criss-cross of lines. “And here,” he said, “is a pond.” Then he spat in my hand.
“Dad!” I would scream, and it was funny as I watched him do it to my siblings.
Holidays were fun too. We’d walk up hills and down the other side. We’d collect seashells on the beach and climb rocks. He built us, not just sand castles, but racing cars with seats and steering wheels.
He’d cover us in sand so that just our head was showing, or take us to a field where we would chase moles that only he could see.
Whereever he went, we followed. He’d do silly things like walk with a limp and we’d copy him, or he’d run and then walk and we’d all bang into each other.
He couldn’t tell a joke because he’d always forget the punch line, or the laughter in his eyes gave it all away.
The police officer finally hung up his helmet and the hard brown eyes became soft all the time.
Now we’ve grown up and left home, Dad and Mum had a their second family, four adopted children. They never saw the policeman with the hard eyes.
Dad eventually ran our of energy to run along beaches and began to walk with a real limp. He still continued to tells fortunes, and his laughing eyes always gave away the jokes.
He died of pancreatic cancer in September 2010. Every father’s day, I remember these things and they make me smile.