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. It pains me how we did nothing to help, but we were just children.
I used to hate 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 that all my friends came home when they liked and I wasn’t allowed. I couldn’t understand why Dad had to be different. He 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. It wasn’t fair!
Now, I know he was being protective, but it caused such caused conflict as I hated him laying down the law like that. Now, I understand why, and I wish I could tell him. I wish he was back here with me now where we could talk about it, and I could tell him how I finally understood. I could empathise because I went through it with my children. Parents care and children don’t understand at the time and fight against it, just as I did.
My other dad, the one with soft brown eyes, would make me laugh. “Give me your hand and I’ll tell your fortune,” he would say. Then, as he peered into my palm it, he said, “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, horrified. Although, 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, and then watch us jump up and out as the sand scattered. He also took us to a field 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 he would walk with us in a line behind him, then suddenly stop and we all crashed into him with a fit of giggles.
Dad could not tell a joke because he’d always forget the punch line, or the laughter in his eyes gave him 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 walked with a limp for real.
We miss the laughing eyes and the bad jokes, and hope that wherever he is, he’s still making the children laugh.