It’s natural as a young boy to bestow hero status on your father, provided of course you are lucky enough to have a good one. Be that biological or otherwise. They can do anything and know everything. My father worked, drove, did DIY, baked, took me and my brother to football games, loved science, helped with homework.. all the things one would expect.
Of course eventually we all grow up, become adults ourselves and realise that our parents are just people capable of making mistakes, people whose advice is only as good as their experiences. The negative side to this is looking back on certain situations and realising just how crappy you have been to your parents at certain points in your life.
An example of this with my father that still haunts me to this day was an occasion of a damp weekend morning in the 1980s. My brother and I both played in local football leagues, this being the 80s, England and even more importantly Liverpool where football is more religion than sport. Whoever was supposed to be the referee that day hadn’t shown so one of the fathers had to step up. This particular day my dad did. Being a child, perhaps 8 or 9, I saw this as a great thing as surely I would have him on my side. I even recall shouting at him at one point because he called an offside in the wrong half. (I highly doubt he did, my memory of it is not clear I can only assume I believed I could influence his decisions) Thinking back on that time now as an adult I can only imagine how nerve racking an event that must have been for my father, having to maintain control of 22 8 year olds running after a football whilst his fellow fathers and the handful of mothers (this was the 1980s) looked on. Sure we can all sit at home watching a match and call the ref out on all his mistakes from the comfort of our sofas, but to actually fully control a match and call decisions when all you had expected to do was watch your son play… so yes I cringe when I think back and find little refuge in the excuse of my age.
So yes we grow up and see our parents in the light of grown day and see how fallible we all are and that hero status fades somewhat into the memories of youth.
But sometimes things happen in life that allow you to again see a parent in that same shining light.
My mother for the past several years has suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s and we had all prepared ourselves for the inevitable outcomes of the disease. I’d expected the psychological aspects, the unreliable short term memory and confusion, expected the TV and movie instilled ‘time travel’ of her thinking it was perhaps 1978 again and wondering why I was a 40 year old man and not a 4 year old boy. These things we see played out and referenced over and over in various media. However little of these things really ever surfaced in my mother, at least not in ways I was expecting. What has been apparent though, what has caught me so off guard are the physical changes. It started quite quickly with her speech, perhaps more a lack of confidence at first reducing her willingness, but fairly quickly I could notice she wouldn’t join in conversations. In more recent years her fine control of her hands went making dressing and eating difficult tasks that my father had to assist with. More recently still she’s been unable to walk or even stand much.
All these things are devastating, but also on some level just how things are. However through all of this my father has been there, researching all the latest findings, making use of any natural products he could to help maintain my mothers health as best he could. He’s always been into vitamin supplements and alternative ideas and all I will say to that is it always seems to have served him well. But he has been, though all of this, fantastic. I hear in his voice sometimes that he’s sometimes of the opinion that he’s not done enough, or he should be coping better and it breaks my heart because he’s done more and survived longer than I fear I would. On some level I still can’t comprehend what is must be like for him, to see his wife suffering so, even when I am experiencing the same feelings of helplessness as her son.
So now, in my forties, I find myself once again looking on my father as my hero. A man to look up to as my brother and I always have. As a father and as a husband.
Dad you are amazing and I love you.