Today is my 47th birthday and yesterday I was told that my Father died. It has been a bad weekend, a family friend died on Saturday, my nephews cat died after being injured on Sunday morning and Sunday evening was my Fathers turn. However I had a very modern relationship with my Father and that means that I really didn't know him, so how should I feel about his death?
So some background, I am the sixth of seven children and my parents separated when I was four. I only have two memories of him from that time and after my parents separated they both took up with new partners. My younger brother started calling our Stepfather "Dad" straight away but I was very loyal to my Father and I held out for two years. Which in hindsight probably didn't do anything to help my relationship with my Stepfather. After that I rarely saw my Father even though he didn't live that far away. But through one of my older brothers I had the occasional contact. But it was like going to a friends house and meeting their Father, nothing special. The women that he was with had two sons around my age and the four of us, my stepbrothers, myself and my younger brother were great friends. As we got older we drifted apart.
When I was in my mid teens I decided that I wanted a relationship with my Father, so I would go and visit him. Mostly we watched TV together. Then when I was sixteen my older brother told us that our Father was getting remarried, I was glad. It was quite clear to me that whatever relationship that had existed between my parents was well and truly in the past, so I wasn't shocked or upset at all. But I didn't get an invitation to the wedding, in fact I was never told about it. A boy at school was invited but I wasn't. After they were married I went to the house so he could tell me, but he didn't. And it broke my heart.
He couldn't even acknowledge reality and it destroyed what little relationship we had. I never went back to visit him, although I did see him a few times after that at birthdays or funerals. Over the years I have thought maybe I should make another effort, but I never did. I had tried and it got me nowhere. I found out later that others had also tried and had been just as successful as I was. In his later years I heard that he wanted a relationship with his children, but too much water had gone under the bridge.
When my Stepfather died, even through we had not had the best of relationships at times, I cried. I was very upset, he raised me, protected me, taught me good lessons and bad and he provided for me. But my own Father couldn't even tell me that he was getting remarried. How should I feel about him?
I then think about how many others have this modern problem, where we don't know the people who should be the dearest to us in the world. When my parents separated I didn't just lose my Father but the rest of his side of my family. All that history and background was lost to me. The truth is that I don't love my Father, but I don't hate him either, rather he is just someone I used to know a long time ago.
The way we live now means that far too many people understand my problem, far to many know what it's like to not know one of their own parents.
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