I had dinner with my Dad recently. He didn’t sit at the same table as my husband and I. He sat by himself at the little table near the door.
His eyes sparkled as he ate. He was kind to the wait staff. I watched him keenly.
When he ate, he reminded me of myself. He chewed deliberately, you could tell he was thinking of the flavours, savouring every bite. In between bites, he’d sit back in his chair and watch the fellow diners. I could tell he was looking at the other people in the restaurant and making up stories about them, just like I do. He’d rub his nose with the side of his hand, just like me. And then he’d stop to look out into the darkness. Lost in his thoughts. I do that too. And when the waitress made a joke, he laughed, just like me.
I wondered what brought him to the restaurant? I wondered why he dined alone? Did he come here for work? Was he meant to be meeting someone? Was he happy? He looked happy. He looked content in his own company, like me. A man not afraid to be in his own space.
I did not ask him to dine with us, because although I’d convinced myself at that moment he was my dad, I knew he was not.
I don’t know my father. I will never know who he is.
But it doesn’t stop me searching for him in other ways. I see “him” at the weirdest times. I watch “him” and imagine his backstory. There’s always a moment in my imaginings that he looks up and smiles. There’s always a moment he comes over to me and tells me he’s been searching for me and he’s so happy to have finally found me. We hug and I feel his breathe on my neck. I smell him. I see his features up close; the wrinkles on his forehead, the stubble on his cheeks. Pieces of a puzzle finally fit together. He always tells me he is proud of me and loves me. I take those moments of pure joy and then lock them away in my heart.
I lock them away with the other times that I see my “sisters” and “brothers”. I see them too, people who look like me. People with features that I can not immediately place with my gorgeous Mum. People I imagine could be related to me. I experience these moments at the most unlikely times – buying a drink from a bar, at the supermarket, drinking a coffee at the markets, on the tram. The shape of someone’s nose, their side profile, the way they speak – all things which alert me to their likeness to me. Do we share the same father? It’s possible, but I’ll never know. Family walking all around me, who I’ll never meet.
It’s for this reason I can not watch tv shows when families are reunited, as that will never be my reality. I’d rather quietly imagine my own “reunions”. It works best for me that way. They make me happy. I am happy.
I had dinner with my Dad the other night.
Do you make up stories in your head too?
Beautiful but heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not know. I do make stories up in my head. Stories about the sister I never had. We would be so close now, especially since mum passed away. We would be each others rock and reminisce about our childhood how much fun we had and the times we fought. We would look after each others kids and be there for each other, an unbreakable bond. I just hope our four girls have this bond that I so long desire.
I do have a sister, but not one that is worth knowing. Long story. But the story in my head keeps me going.
Hugs to you xx
Yes, I make up stories all the time. Have never had to about my dad, but I reckon my son might. *Hugs*
yes I do.
but they’re not as lovely as this one
I don’t know a lot of my family, even though I have met them. I used to make up stories about them when I was younger and I didn’t know the reality. X
I used to do similar things about kids. I’d always wanted them, but haven’t had that opportunity. (And now it’s too late!)
Every so often I’d go through a Target or Big W catalogue and look at the kids and work out which one/s could be mine. (And I know that sounds a bit weird and creepy, but I don’t mean for it to be. It was just nice to think that I MIGHT have been a mother / had a family and there’s something comforting in that). The good old…. ‘what if…?’
I make up stories all the time too but often exchange the reality for an alternate one with family – like yesterday as I was standing in my backyard surrounded by people…some of whom I wish like heck were “different” and I imagined that were different. This is such a beautiful post lovely. I like your imaginary world very much indeed. X
You are such a beautiful writer. I have a ‘lost’ brother out there somewhere. He was the re
result of one of my dads flings. His mother met someone else and asked my dad to step aside. He is 19 now and I think of him all the time. I hope some day he will knock on my door. He doesn’t even know our father is dead.
What a beautiful and moving peice of writing. Much love B xx
Such beautiful words B.
I have a younger sister and brother, both younger then my two eldest children, that I have never met. I hope one day that I will, but if I don’t I will always know that I fought a battle for their protection and won. That I used my voice, as they were too small to be able to do it themselves. Maybe, one day, when they are old enough for the desire to know who their big sister is is lit we will find each other.
I cant imagine the sadness of having such a gaping hole in your life. I hope that one day your questions will be answered.
Wow. This is a stunning post. x
I can’t relate and so don’t know what to say that will be in any way meaningful, but you are such a beautiful writer and beautiful person and he lives in a less wonderful world for not knowing you.
such a beautiful piece. My dad & his mum came to Australia post war in the 50’s, no one knew where his dad went, lots of other countries were mentioned. I know he would wonder if he had another family as did I, who they were, what they were like.
thanks for sharing, lovely xx
Bianca – this is a beautiful post. I am glad you wrote it.
I meant to add – my mum never knew her dad. She was adopted by her aunty at a young age and her mum worked as a cleaner and was killed in a pedestrian/car accident when mum was 19. She never really knew her mum either.
I often talk with mum about who her dad may be – maybe he’s a rich person and one day we will fall into some wealth. But the reality is, he probably has the gene that my skin condition stems from. Guess that’s something to hang on to, that he is in my life some how.
I have a friend who lost his brother, and I spent a good long while making up the story of what he’d been doing all these years, and where he might be. Beautiful post.
Within the moment, or a time when I am feeling incredibly proud of you, is usually the time I think of your Dad. I do it now with your girls as well, when they are particularly cute it will cross my mind that there’s some-one out there that has no idea of what he’s missed. Beautiful post.
Beautiful beautiful post
Wwwwwwow. You knocked my socks off with this one. Absolutely beautiful writing, B. xxxx
Stories often fill the gaps for me, but in a different way. Kirsty is right: he’s no idea what he’s missed. x
What an amazingly beautiful post B. You’ve nailed it. xx
My husband is adopted. His biological family appeared last year. Sometimes I wonder if he’d thought of what they would be like too like you are. And is the bubble burst now? Standing on the outside looking in is how he’s described it before. xxx
Beautiful. Touched a nerve. I will always be wondering the exact same things.
Oh darling girl. Immediate tears. I think this is my favourite post of yours ever. xxx
Beautiful post. So much resonated with me so thank you x
It’s sad how many of us know our families and don’t tell them how much we love them. Next time I eat with my ageing father, I will sit him by the door and watch him chew and kiss him afterwards and smell his Grandad smell of soap and talc and savour how lucky I am.
My mother has never gotten over being adopted seventy five years ago. It has affected so much of her life wondering and blaming and feeling somehow less valued than she should. She had nine children and an amazing family, building the blood ties that she felt she needed so much. Birthdays are always hardest for her.
Your philosophy seems much kinder to yourself than hers.