Today would have been my father’s 76th birthday.
A year ago, on his 75th, I was not at the hospital celebrating it with him. I was at home attempting to block out that this was a significant day. To me, it had to remain as ‘normal’ as possible. I did not want to, in the future, associate this day with him.
There was too much pressure and I was really struggling. I needed to keep the boundaries in place, they were keeping me strong. I could not destroy them because my father was dying. I could not ruin all my hard work for emotion.
David, my husband, had visited my father the day before to drop off a birthday card. I wasn’t cold-hearted as he made out. I wanted to give him something. In the card I wrote some special, thoughtful words. I wanted to say something kind to him, I wanted to go against the image he always portrayed me as. I was not a monster, as much as he accused me of being one. I was not heartless, I still remained his daughter. Maybe I was forgiving him in the card. Or perhaps I was forgiving myself. Ultimately, it was the right thing to do.
On the 2nd of August 2012, I received a phone call from my father.
He rang me to say thank you. It would be the first time in over sixteen years that those two words seemed genuine.
Then came the moment in the phone call where I finally thought I would hear what I have always longed for:
Just one, just one admission for all the abuse, all the terror. He began to cry, he commented on my sweet words and how they have soothed him. I cried too. I was willing the words out of him, just say sorry!
“I often thought, after arguments, Babitago, I regretted shouting at you,”
I was shocked to hear him saying it. It was finally coming, the moment I had waited my life for.
“It was wrong of me, but Babitago; you needed to be corrected.”
However, it was those five words that rang in my ear. I immediately wiped away my tears.
He continued speaking, saying how I would provoke his anger which caused him to react badly towards me and I could not blame him for that. That I was willing him to fight me, attack me and how much I wanted him to berate me. He said I put myself into situations deliberately and taunted him wanting a reaction and needing an argument. After a while into his detailing of me, I had stopped listening. We seemed to be taking a few steps forward for a second but ultimately he was always going to pull me back down.
What did I expect?
I expected that.