Recently around the dinner table some friends, all 60+, were discussing fatherhood. We reflected on the sort of father we were: the hands on type, the absent father always at work or the aloof, unable to connect, father.
We concluded that for each of us our fathers were our role models and they in turn, looked to their fathers.
The question then arose as to how many of us actually thought about the sort of father we were or did we simply copy the behaviours of our own fathers? From our discussions I wrote this poem reflecting the thoughts we shared.
My father wasn’t like other fathers
He didn’t like to play tag
He couldn’t swing a bat
Or throw a ball
His jokes were always stilted
He was no Atticus Finch.
To be safe he stayed away
From us kids when we played
I think he was afraid
Of us, our noise and all our toys.
We’d find him hidden in his study
His head buried in some book
Far more interesting than any of us.
His books were all in foreign tongues.
He prided himself that all around
He was known as a man of letters
A man who read Greek and Latin
In large impressive volumes
He kept up high, well away
From our sticky fingers and prying eyes.
I stood in his office the day he died
And wondered who he was
This man we were called our dad
Who rarely uttered a word to me
Other than correcting me when I ‘spoke all wrong’.
His voluminous books sat in prominence
Having only known his tender hands.
I knew from that day they’d gather dust
As we had no interest nor understanding
Of the classics or scholarly books.
When we buried him we did so a mystery
As I couldn’t think of a word to say
My father, wasn’t like other fathers.