I wish you had stuck around. I wish I knew you. I wish that I did not have to wait until the age of 40 to even know whether you had ever seen. You had and that was wonderful to know. I wish you had stuck to your guns if you wanted to keep me. I wish that about the only thing I know about you is that you are alleged to have hurt my mother physically. I wish I knew that you cared and that you still do.
I wish Mum was still here so that you don't have to try to be both Mum and Dad. You will never manage it but it is lovely that you try.
I am thankful that you adopted me in middle age when most people would have been enjoying moving on to being just a couple. I remember so many good times. Daft but meaningful things like you spending one Christmas Day working on a Tumble Doll to make it work when everyone else gave up. How you asked your best mate to make me the most wonderful and unique dolls' house. How we walked together with you telling me the names of trees, berries and son on. I could confide in you about my teenage crushes and my adult love interests. You were such a good listener and never seemed to judge me.
I appreciate how you went without holidays so that you could put me through university and so that I would always have as much ready cash as anyone else did so I did not feel down at heel. You worked all your life, turning your hand to many things to bring in an income for the family.
My brother tells me you were always the same sort of father. I don't think so having heard to family stories over the years. In the Fifties, you identified as a breadwinner I think. Mum used to say that when she went into labour with her second son and it was breech so a bit of an emergency, your major concern was who was going to do your packed lunch for work. My older brother tells of tales when you were a strict disciplinarian.
With me, you took me to work with you sharing cases and acting as if my opinion counted. You organised work experience placements for me. You did my breakfast and got me to school every morning. We walked, we laughed, we talked.
I wish you had not always taken Mum's side in arguments. Sometimes, I think she was dealing with her own personal crises rather than reacting to my bad behaviour. You loved her and was so loyal to her and sometimes that grated.
I remember you getting really angry with me when I challenged the police once. As an ex-police officer that must have been difficult for you. I also remember your distress at realising just how livid you had got with me and how you might have scared me.
Now, I live with the reality of losing you. There's a wake-up call when one parent dies. Every time I leave you, I try to imprint the image of you on my brain just in case ...
I love you Dad.
I don't understand how you could leave your two daughters. You never telephoned, wrote or visited them in the time I knew you. I used to raise the issue but you didn't like that, did you?
I also cannot believe how you denied the existence of one of your girls. What was that about?
I nearly caught you out in the lie once. Ever the quick thinker, you persuaded me otherwise. I know the truth now. It is not a nice truth but I know it.
I have reason to know that your daughters were probably better off without you.
There are many different types of Dad in many different types of circumstances reacting and behaving in very different ways. Here are letters to three that have mattered in my life. More to follow but welcome comments in the meantime.
What does you Dad mean to you?
Has being a Dad changed throughout the ages and how?
What is your Dad like?
What is the father of your children like and do you have any frustrations?
Are you a Dad? Is it easy or challenging? Who taught you how to be a Dad? Can you learn to be a Dad?