A letter to my Dad – another ‘good father’

*TW* – Domestic Violence.

Dear Dad,

It’s been four years since your death. I think about it often. I remember what you looked like as you struggled to take your last breath, the similarity of our arms as you lay on that bed, the coldness of your hand.

I was asked by the person conducting your funeral what my favourite memories of you were: I told her I had none. I cannot remember a time I felt happy with you around. It may have happened – but I could not remember a positive memory. I do have a lot of memories about you, some of which I shared with you before you died.

At your funeral I was told that ‘he was a good dad to you, pet’. The reasoning behind this was that you took me to the beach half a dozen times (when you were drunk), that you bought me sweets, that you paid me £10 every few months (whilst never paying child support). But the main reason you were ‘a good dad’ to me, as I was informed by those mourning your death, was that you never punched, kicked, strangled and attempted to murder me, like you did to my Mam.

So what do I remember about you, Dad? I remember seeing you smash my Mam’s head off the coffee table. I remember seeing holes in the door. I remember seeing scratches on the wall of the living room next to the window – four floors up. I remember the screaming and being told it was a bad movie. I remember you kicking Mam in the stomach the day after her hysterectomy. I remember you stalking her, calling her, telling her the next time she left the house would be in a body bag. I remember the blood that stained our carpet after you tried to kill my Mam. I remember her face – her apologising that I had to see the blood, the bone, the damage that you caused. I remember being rehoused in a ‘safe house’. I remember you finding out where we lived, smashing our window and threatening to murder us with the knife in your hand.

Even if I had remained unaffected by the years of violence, you harmed my Mam. You terrorised her. You stalked, intimidated, bullied, gaslighted, beat and violated everything she had. You tried to destroy her, culminating in the night you tried to murder her. She was my safety and you tried to annihilate her.

My Mam has thrived since she left you. Her capacity for love and trust and forgiveness is something I admire greatly. I too moved on – it allowed me to find the strength to tell you exactly why we could never have the father-daughter relationship you wanted. I am glad we were able to talk before you died. I have moved on since your death. Whilst the impact of your violence resulted in my experience of PTSD, I am not bitter, I am not full of hate and that’s why I supported my family through your illness. That’s why I sat with your mother and sister and cleaned you and fed you and helped you until the end. You weren’t a good dad – but you were my Dad.

My favourite memory of you? When you were in hospital, you were becoming confused. You thought I was the nurse and decided to mix your main course and your pudding in one bowl. You ate most of it and left a little. I asked you why and you said ‘I’ll leave that for my daughter – she’s beautiful, you know? She told me that I let her down and I did.” You rested your fragile head on my shoulder – it was the first time I felt no fear of you or anger towards you. I cried softly. I asked what you would say to her if she was here now. You replied, “That I love her. I hope she can forgive me and that I’m sorry I never got to hear her sing”.

She knows. She’s trying. And this is the song she sang in your ear on your final day.

NOTE: This post was inspired by this story and many like it – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-22659300


20 thoughts on “A letter to my Dad – another ‘good father’

  1. I’ve a similar story, it’s funny how similar many survivors stories are yet no one seems to be able to change things or link patterns of behaviour. I’ve recently experienced losing a family member and the rigmoral of not having good memories. Much respect.

  2. Portia that is the most powerful moving thing ive read all year. Im glad yr mum is thriving now and that you have moved on and found peace with this. xx

  3. What a powerful piece of writing and what a tower of strength you must be. By sharing your story you will have given so many others hope that the future holds a better life and that you can find peace after abuse.

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