Dear Dad

Dear Dad

I miss you. Where are you? I know you are not coming back, nor can you hear me, but I am going to write. You have a special place in my heart that only Dads can have. And I can’t have any pain in my heart.

What happened to you? I see you in the photos going downhill fast, pretty much from the 80s onward. And by the early 90s you were gone. Gone long before that, I guess. Who was that man I met in the hospital? I didn’t recognize you at first, hobbling towards me, all green and yellow, shaking, old. Then staring up at the horse racing, asking for cigarettes, talking to me like I was all of your sons together. And none of them. Those guys you were with scared the hell out of me. Made no sense, and you little more. That wasn’t where you were meant to be. I heard they didn’t know what else to do with you so there you were, sick and feeble, walking frame, fucked liver making your skin look dead. I couldn’t stay very long. You weren’t really interested in my presence, just that I could get your fags. And I didn’t know what to say. I wish you had recognized me. The doctors said the usual when I expressed guilt at not doing more. That only you can help yourself, and only when you hit rock bottom. That’s a dangerous game. Where was your bottom? I guess you found it.

After that place, with the long corridors and madness and TVs bolted to the walls, I don’t know where you went. The cheap motel? The house with a drunk postman and his drunk father? And what about our dog, did she still get walks and food? I didn’t come to see you again. I was in another county minding my own. I kept your letters. Read them when you really were gone, crying in the corner of the flat, not knowing what to do. I was ready to make moves when it happened. Then cancelled. When there’s a big change like that, I didn’t want another. But it wasn’t unexpected news. I wish I’d come to see you though, no matter how hard it might have been. So the last time wasn’t the special hospital where you didn’t belong. That hug at the gate as I left home, I’ll take that as the last time we saw each other. I wish I’d known you as an adult.

My belly is tight as I write this, thinking of you. I’ll write again soon, to remember, to tell you what I’ve been up to, to tell you what’s happening around here. Shit’s got really crazy. I mean really crazy. We knew it was bad – right? – and you seemed to know something of where it was going. Well, it’s going there for sure. We’re all okay, us boys, and Mum’s in France. There’s this thing called the internet now. No more encyclopaedia volumes, everything on hand. I mean everything. You’d like it. I’m not sure where I’m sending this to, but sending.