Before today I hadn’t spoken to my father in over six years, by a matter of choice. I changed my surname and I’ve torn up every single Christmas and birthday card he has ever sent me. I used to really hate him, because he made mine, my mum’s, and my brother’s lives a misery. When I still called him my dad, he was a selfish, bullying drunk who was able to afford cigarettes and booze and football season tickets, but was too skint to pay for days out or meals out. He had enough energy to bully my brother and strangle him with a washing line, but he was too tired to spend actual quality time with us. He was cruel, and the final straw was when he attacked my mum because she had someone other than him fixing her car.
Today was my birthday and I answered the door to see him standing there. He looked awfully old. His teeth are even yellower than I remember and he’s lost one of his front incisors. I expected to feel the hate I’d let go of a couple of years back, but all I felt was pity for the mess I saw before me. Not the sympathy he tried to gain from me, just pity. The big bad dad that I’d feared for a large portion of my life was now nothing more than a short pitiful old man, and although the fear is well and truly gone, it’s been replaced by another emotion that right now I can’t place my finger on.
I know that I’m never going to be able to forgive him for all the hurt that he caused, nor am I interested in keeping in contact with him, as I have told him. But it’s kind of hit me hard in a way that I can’t describe, and it just makes me cry to think of those five or ten awkward minutes facing the man who I had feared more than anything else in my life.