This weekend is Fathers’ Day. My dad is currently in the UK but usually he lives right next door, with my mom. He won’t be here this Fathers’ Day and I don’t know if he’ll be around for next year’s either. But I do know he doesn’t remember last year’s Fathers’ Day and chances are he won’t recall this one for more than a few days either, whatever he does.
My dad has always been an absent father, yet he is probably the most stable person in my life. He’s always been there, but never really been here.
It is my own belief that dad has Asperger’s Syndrome. He ticks all the boxes in all the symptoms lists I’ve ever read and I’ve read a lot. This would explain so many things about his way of being. On top of this he is afraid and worried all the time, about everything. He has never been emotionally present in my life, but he has always been there. ‘There’ could be at work; he is a doctor – was a doctor – worked long hours at government hospitals and was loved by most of his patients, many of whom ask after him at the supermarket checkout or at the petrol stations or behind the counter at locals stores. ‘There’ could also be asleep on the couch, nodding over an empty lap. That’s where you can usually find him now, too.
My dad also has Parkinson’s. This brings with it a spate of challenges including incontinence, shaking, a stooped shuffle, the inability to move freely, and forgetfulness. Not the kind where he can’t find the keys (oddly he ALWAYS knows where they are!) but the kind which means he now gets lost in his own home. He could no longer find his way to the nearby mall if he were still driving, which he mercifully isn’t. And he is slowly forgetting the names of members of his family (to be fair with 7 kids, 23 grand children and a 4th great grand child on the way this is perhaps not too surprising).
The point is, I know the day is coming when he will no longer remember my name. And that day is coming soon. I don’t know if it will already have come when he gets off the plane with Mom in August. I’ll be there to collect them and he will be wheeled out in the airport’s wheelchair they will have arranged for him – and I don’t know if he will recognise me, or my son.
There is so much about my Dad I will never know. I suspect a lot has happened to him that no one knows, perhaps he himself no longer remembers.
But for all that I never had a ‘normal’ relationship with him, for all that he has always struggled to express his emotions appropriately – laughing at sad places in movies; weeping in the middle of a dinner – i have never doubted for a second that he loved me. And even when he no longer recognises my face, I will be sure of that. And I will love him.
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad xxx