My Father’s Day message to the dad that abandoned me
It’s me, Danny.
You may not remember me.
Whether that’s your advancing years (you must be in your early 80s now?), or perhaps because you choose not to remember. Who knows? It’s been over a quarter of a century since I saw you last, after all.
As your third son – the only one from your second marriage – I can perhaps understand why you never felt the need to contact me. Though quite why a grown man would simply not turn up to take his nine-year-old child out for the day as agreed is quite beyond me. Growing up without siblings, with just mum to raise me must have been hard on her, but again, it didn’t seem to bother you at all.
I like to think mum brought me up well. To be respectful to people. To treat others as I would want to be treated. Not that you’d be able to empathise with that, of course.
The rumours doing the rounds in my early teens was that you were telling people you had been banned from seeing me by mum. It’s something I asked her about more than once, and she insisted she would never do that. She may hate you, she’d point out, but you was still my father and she wouldn’t stand in your way if you wanted to see me.
I think in some ways she wanted me to contact you. To see for myself who you were, what you were like. But I can’t say I was ever overly interested. After all, if you had been prevented from seeing me by mum, you’d be free from that restriction on my 18th birthday and you could see me then.
You do remember when my birthday is, don’t you dad? I ask because two decades or more have passed since you chose to acknowledge it. That last card you sent me, do you remember that? “Happy birthday Danny. Let me know if you got this card.” Not “sorry I haven’t been in contact.” Not even “hope you have a great day.” You seemed more concerned on finding out whether the card had reached me. Well, it did. Not that I wanted to ever give you the satisfaction of knowing that.
Of course, my 18th birthday came and went and you were still nowhere to be seen. The claims of exclusion now rang hollow. As an adult in the eyes of society, mum said she knew how to contact you if I wanted to get in touch. I’ve no idea how she knew where you’d be, but that’s mum, always having something up her sleeve. But I wasn’t interested. I knew you were in the East End of London somewhere, but you may as well have been dead for all I cared.
At the age of 22 my first daughter was born. It’s hard to believe she’s a teenager now. She’s grown up magnificently, and I’m a proud dad. She was followed by two sisters and a brother – each of whom again makes me beam with pride more often than I care to remember. How you could ever walk away from your kid seems even more alien now.
Mum tells a story of how, in celebration of the birth of her first granddaughter, she decided to call you and tell you. Putting aside her hatred (and trust me, it really is hatred. Having heard some of the stories, I can understand why), she phoned you. Speaking to you for the first time in 13 years:
“Jean, your ex-wife!”
She told you that you’d become a granddad again. Apparently you sounded shocked, wished me well, and that was it. It’s a response that screams of indifference.
The last I heard, you were living in Sidcup. Slightly ironically that’s where I spent five years going to school. I don’t know if you’re in an old people’s home there, or you’ve managed to find some poor other woman to leech off.
I’d like to think that this Fathers Day you’ll have your other two sons near you. My half-brothers are ten or more years older than me. They have families of their own, so there’s every chance you’ll be alone. It’s funny how things go sometimes, isn’t it?
Me? I’ll be spending the morning with my four kids, who love me as much as I love them. Then I’ll be going to visit mum, who has spent more time being both a mum and a dad to me than you ever did.