It was a cold Monday Morning in 1998
I’m standing outside the village post office, there is a middle-aged woman in front of me glancing at her watch , in front of her, an old man smoking a roll up cig .
The post office door opens and the queue slowly move’s inside.
The old man leans on the window ledge as he waits his turn.
He is wearing old faded blue jeans, and jacket, and matching hat.
Not your typical pensioner outfit.
His weathered skin, lines and the scares on his face tell a million stories.
Stories of a alcoholic a hard man a fighter in his time
He looks smaller than I remember..
I try to concentrate on the posters on the wall.
Anxiety stirs in the pit of my stomach, dry mouth
Posters and leaflets around the wall Television licence.
First class stamps. Car tax. Premium bonds.
I focus on very brightly coloured poster.
St Hayden school Jumble Sale this Saturday 1.PM.
I read every one to distract myself, to control my panic.
But still my eyes are drawn back to him.
Like a moth to a flame
Half of me would like him to see me.
Half of me is terrified he will.
I catch a wafting smell of stale home brew and old Holborn Tobacco
He’s holding what’s left of the roll up fag he was smoking outside.
He is staring blankly ahead of him, brown eyes the same as mine milky now with age.
Wisps of silver grey white hair peep from under his denim cap. Tattooed dots on his knuckle’s scars on his face.
He’s standing at the counter now, next to me I can smell that smell of old Holborn and beer strongly now my heart beats loudly in my chest I’m convinced he will hear it and turn around.
Do alcoholics ever change?
Stop it I tell myself ..
He doesn’t want to never wanted to, set in his ways.
I can’t fix this.
I hand the woman my family allowance book, she’s smiling and saying something about the weather. I wish she would shut up as I’m straining to hear his voice.
Every emotion waiting just below the surface
Fear, panic, need.
I hate myself for allowing myself to feel anything at all ,
He speaks again
Deep and rasping, so familiar, yet he’s become a stranger to me.
His own doing, he doesn’t know me.
He never really did not the real me.
Just the me he created, moulded
My chest tightens, I feel my eyes prick with tears, but I will not let them come.
Something inside of me still desperately wants him to know me.
What I’ve achieved and who I am.
He is my Dad he doesn’t know what I like if I take milk in my tea, what makes me happy or sad.
What issues I feel passionately about.
That despite everything I’m trying my best to be a good a good Mam.
How can I ..
I’m winging it and
He used to tell me I’d amount to nothing.
Nothing more than a whore.
Those words are etched into my soul.
That is how I always felt insignificant, ugly, worthless, nothing.
This old man in front of me is my Dad.
The same old man who still walks in my dreams.
The man who struck terror into the heart of a small child.
Oh Dad I so desperately wanted to please you.
I wanted you to like me.
Sadly I still do.
I find myself fighting to suppress the pity I find myself feeling for him.
My heart beating in my head reminding myself of the holocaust he made my life.
There is a tiny piece of him I loved and adored the sober piece I always will.
That big man that carried me on his shoulders. Held my hand and walked me to school. Held my bike seat and smiled from ear to ear cheering his little girl as I peddled off on my own.
He taught me to play cards, draughts, let me help him when he’d wallpaper.
Gave me my love for books and the outdoors, taught me to write my name then later shared with me his talent for writing poetry.
He taught me to love nature and the countryside.
As I watched in awe as he’d whispered to horses.
Rescued a blackbird from a hawthorn bush.
Talked of make-believe, fairies and magic castles.
Oh how I loved that tiny piece of him, I still do,
But that piece was a grain of sand in a endless desert.
But I always searched for it
I always will.
I desperately wanted then and now for that piece of him to become his whole.
For god the universe or some miracle to take away the bad piece. I want him to turn my way look at me and tell me he’s sorry.
I want him to hold me tell me everything’s going to be okay.
I want a family.
I want my children to have him as their granddad.
I want them to be safe.
He’s walking out of the door now.
I walk out behind him all of these thoughts buzzing in my head.
I get in my car sit in silence and watch him walk out of the post office and away and then the tears start to fall.
For the life I can’t have, and the wishes I can’t make come true.
I know I can’t change him from who he is.
To whom I would desperately like him to be.
But I’ll never stop wanting and wishing.
That day in the post office was the very last time I saw him.
He died a few years later. I didn’t get a sorry.
I was always afraid of receiving the news that he was dead.
Afraid I’d feel something anything.
Afraid of betraying myself.
I felt nothing.
I didn’t go to his funeral.
Now I’m allowed to break the silence he demanded of us all.
Finally I can breathe