You how it is when you discover something new, or realise something you should have known long before, that afterwards wherever you look or whatever you do there is proof everywhere of this new knowledge? I used to think it was coincidence, but I now know that to be a naive view. The world doesn’t change with your new knowledge, what changes is your view of it. The things you see now were always there to be seen, but invisible because you never paused to consider their existence.
Since I had the falling out with my father just on Christmas so much has become apparent to me that I was oblivious to before. I’ve stepped away from him, and have no have regrets at that. I’ve not missed his presence in my life, which is comment in itself. I realised that for many years I unconsciously papered over the cracks in our relationship, and his role as a father. With the paper ripped aside I now see exposed the gaping holes, and feel healthier for acknowledging their existence.
An unexpected consequence of this is how I now perceive the father-son relationship. I find myself looking upon father figures on TV or in real life and feeling a wistful regret that I could not have had a father like that: warm, loving, supportive, fun – a friend. For years I would have looked upon similar figures and not once referred it back to my relationship with my father; now I do every time.
For the most part I have accepted it. There’s a sense of distant sorrow, particularly as now I find myself with no close family. There’s a sense of waste. You look upon these scenes and think how much different it could have been, and wonder what that might have felt like. For the most part though it’s water under the bridge, done and dusted, I’ve moved on. (And, important to note, I harbour no grudge towards him. He’s lost out as much as I have, and it seems unreasonable to blame someone for who they are.)
Last night watching a movie I felt that very thing again, though more intensely than usual. I sat down late to watch About Time, the latest Richard Curtis film. It had a clever, fun, premise, very typically a Curtis film. The people were good, the main character a decent and very English lad, quite different to his Australian equivalent. His father in the film was played by one of my favourite actors, Bill Nighy.
The first half of the film I felt a bit twee, but it changed character into something more substantial in the second half. Richard Curtis films tend to be warm-hearted, optimistic films about love and life, mixed in with humour and often a touch of the ridiculous. This was no different. I finished watching the movie reassured in some way, and feeling quite moved.
What moved me most was the depiction on screen between father and son, which was loving and authentic and wry. They were mates, they had fun together, they cared and had genuine love for each other. It touched me to the core. I couldn’t help but feel left out. This is the father I yearned to have. I longed to have had that relationship, to feel loved and appreciated and important. I understood how I had never had that person to turn to. I wonder how much that has influenced the man I have become. Quite a lot I expect.
All relationships are chemical, but you expect the bond between father and son to be natural – if nothing else, they share the same chemical elements. I realise now that was never the case with dad and I. If I look back I think the closest we ever were was those many Saturday afternoons over many years when we would go to the footy together.
In truth though we’ve really been strangers to each other all these years. Compare us side by side and we share attributes and characteristics because we share the same blood. I even have idiosyncrasies handed down by him, and look something like he does. In many areas we have the same interests, and a similar approach to them. All of these things can be ticked off, but somehow they’re less than the sum of their parts. The same tune perhaps, or similar, but broadcast on different frequencies.
As I said, it’s too late now for regret. I hope he goes well. I expect to maintain some sort of relationship with him, though remotely. I’ve moved on. What never was can never be now, and I’ve dealt with it.