Every one of us has a different story when it comes to our own fathers. Some of us have great Dads who have evolved into great Grandads. Some of us have had difficult relationships with the old man and some of us have simply never known him.
We all know men who have an incredibly strong desire to not do what their father did. They want to put things right. To be more than the man that he was. To restore father-son relationships back to their proper order. To not make the same mistakes that he did. I am one of those men. My father took off on conception and was never seen again. My mother also died when I was very young. I used to be angry about this, but as I’ve matured, I’ve mellowed somewhat.
A couple of years ago, through a very simple Google search, I found a man with the right name and various clues that led me to believe that he could potentially be my father. I even had a phone number. I’ve sat on this phone number, memorised it, thought about it lots but until recently, never had the courage to ring it. Dozens of questions whirled round my mind. Would he be the right man? If he is, would he admit it or would he lie and say he wasn’t? Would he even remember my mother? What if he didn’t want to know me? Why do I feel drawn towards him when he obviously didn’t give a toss about me back when I was born?
I realised eventually that there wasn’t a gaping hole in my emotional well-being that I needed him to fill. I wasn’t angry anymore. My life as a husband, father and contributor to society is great. I’m a good person and a success. I don’t need this man. So I called the number.
He was out and his wife answered, she guessed very quickly why I was ringing and told me when he would be home. She also said, “I think he’s going to be very pleased to hear this. It’s something that will be good for him too.” I did call back and established through the information I had that we are father and son. Since then we’ve spoken several times, we’ve sent and received Christmas cards and photos. He even called me on Father’s Day last year to wish me, his son, a happy Fathers Day!
On Sunday I fly to Australia to see him. I don’t know what to expect or if the meeting will go well. Will it be closure, or will it open something new? Will I arrive to meet my father and leave calling him Dad? When we have children, it makes us question our own family history. The reasons may be as clinical as knowing what genetic make-up or defects we may inherit. It may go deeper than that.
We who are fathers are also sons, whether we like the result or not. We must never forget that while we are now adults, this does not stop us from being children and that the relationships we have with our parents will have a huge impact on the relationship our children have with us.
(Also published on DIY Father.com)