We all harbour questions that we would dearly like to ask someone, or many someone’s, but never think we will be able to spill the words. It’s like you’re too scared to ask because you don’t really want to know the answer? Or you know what the answer will be, and can’t bare to think of what you will do with said answer? Or is it just me?
I’ve just spent the weekend up in Queensland. Had three days of pretending that I didn’t have a care in the world – no kids to worry about, no work to get to and no alarms to set, because there was nowhere I had to be! I stayed in an apartment with two lifelong friends, and we sat and chatted, ate cheese and drank wine. Had a massage in our lounge room overlooking the surf. Read a book. READ A BOOK!!!!! We also went out two nights in a row, and drank copius amounts of alcohol. Something I really very rarely do!
I also saw my Dad. I haven’t seen him since he had his heart problems late last year, so it was lovely to see him in the flesh and note that he had put on some weight. And for the first time in my 37 years, he did not smell of tobacco and nicotine. A HUGE and noticeable change. He picked me up from the airport on arrival and drove me up to my friend’s parents house. Back to the same neighbourhood we had lived for many years. His memory is vague, and I had to remind him of where the house we used to live in was. We sat and had lunch, and chatted about a range of topics and then said our goodbyes. When my weekend was coming to an end, I called him again and arranged to meet up to spend the afternoon before I departed. I was a little anxious and couldn’t figure out why? But only minutes after pulling in to the caravan park he calls home, I worked it out. I hadn’t been to my Dad’s place of residence in almost 25 years! 14 of those I didn’t even know where he resided, or whether he was in fact, even alive…..
He showed me around his humble little caravan, and pointed out that he’d had a massive clean up since kicking the cigarettes months ago. It was freshly painted and he’d acquired a few pieces of newish furniture. It was certainly very “homely”. But to be completely honest – I was sad. I was sad that the man who had spent the first 12 years of my life being my Dad, providing for me and making a great life for his family, had ended up in a caravan park. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against people who live in caravan parks! I spent a couple of years myself living in one, after my Dad had lost all that we owned through his gambling habit, and my Mum and Step Dad were left to pick up the pieces. SO I know all about people who live in caravan parks. BUT – this one little caravan and its contents were all that my Dad has to show for his almost 70 years of life. And it saddens me.
Anyway, I soon got over that sadness and got a royal tour! Met all the locals, including his friend “Dot” whom I spoke to on the phone during Dad’s stint in hospital. She was the one who explained that he was very sick and required triple bypass surgery, and all that goes along with what that meant. Lovely lady, even more lovely that I know she’s looking out for my Dad.
I took a Nana Nap on his couch until it was time to leave for the airport again. We grabbed some dinner in the departure lounge and chatted some more. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but I finally got the courage up to ask one of a million questions I’d been wanting to ask over the years – “Do you ever look back?”……… He did not hesitate in his answering, and I felt a wave of relief wash over me, that I was finally going to be able to hear my Dad apologise for all that happened. “Oh, of course I look back, I look back and think how bloody stupid I was.” O.M.G. Perhaps I would finally be having a conversation about the huge white elephant that has been sitting in the room the past ten years?? And then he continued…….. “That’s why I’ve never been in another relationship”. My ears pricked, I could feel a Hallelujah moment coming. “Because I could never have someone telling me what I can and can’t do again”…………….
I just nodded my head and carried on eating my greasy chicken and chips. I couldn’t make sense of what he said, and really didn’t want to. We bid farewell at the departure gate and I headed back to Melbourne….
So I get home and relay this entire conversation to my husband. At 11.45pm at night. And he makes sense of it for me. My Dad still doesn’t acknowledge that his gambling was what ruined our family. What ruined his marriage. And why I had nothing to do with him for such a long time. He is still living in denial.
I say “my family is fucked”. Andrew says “Our family is great”.
I find more out about this family of mine the older I am getting. Sometimes it puts things in place, other times it just gets more muddled.
Do you have any hard questions you haven’t been able to ask?