Although it’s still less than two years since he died, it would be dishonest of me to say I go around ‘missing’ my father. It hits me when I see a man that has the cut of his jib. Or when I’m driving and some random memory pops up. And always, always when Meath are playing in Croker. He would have been glued last night, watching their defeat against Kildare. F’ing and blinding at the TV, than never answered back. He would have been chuffed that my son’s school report said that he had a ‘great interest in politics’ – in his likeness in so many ways. Him entertaining my daughter’s dodgy ‘knock-knock jokes.
The real vacuum is the fuss that was around him. The farmer’s clock that meant that dinner served any later than ten-past-one in the day, was likely to lead to starvation. No heed either to the fact that my mother may have been down the yard helping my father that morning and so unable to produce an abracadabra dinner. But my mother knowing his ways, would usually have prepared dinner in advance.
All the fuss too, to cajole him about buying a new suit for a family occasion. Him insisting that the old suit was ‘grand’ and that he just needed to loosen the belt, my mother and I exchanging glances and saying nothing. Him looking dapper in his new attire and I wonder what all the commotion was about.
No need now, to hide the hair conditioner in the bathroom, which my father was known to wash his hair in. My mother, at nothing, asking him to wash his hair again to take the dullness out of it. ‘Would ya stop woman’, he’d say as he combed his hair impatiently into a side parting. Never a man for the barber either, he could barely sit still while my mother cut his hair, on a Saturday night as he watched Winning Streak. Teasing him about his bald patch, which he insisted was the result of being hit by a stone on the head as a child. My mother laughing, saying that the scar must have grown over time.
It’s probably no accident that Mr Private, the guy I dated for months was older than me. Reliable and kind, funny, opinionated. A father figure of sorts, not that I was looking for that. Or maybe I was, unknown to myself.
I’m not one to look for signs of my father’s presence either. But lately, I have thought of him and asked him, begged him, to send me strength, that just didn’t come.
Last week, I was in court for something that I will tell you about in my memoirs. A lonely place to be on my own, having turned down all offers from friends to be there for support, feeling that I should 'do this alone'. As I gathered myself in the toilet, the dodgiest of Irish county music blaring in through the window from the market stall outside. And I just knew that he was there. I laughed - Always on your terms Da, always.
Happy Father’s Day