Birthdays are curious events when we stop to think about them, a celebration of us being alive and the passing of time. Sometimes we stop to think of those who have been part of the journey with us, those that left lasting impressions (good and bad), and those that are no longer with us that we would give anything to have just one more meal with them.
Today marks my father’s 78th birthday, a leading paediatric neurologist across the world, achieving many things but alas I shall not be marking it with him. In my early years he was the parent I loved to be around, from visiting antique shops and art fairs, to museums and bookshops, although a very busy man he was the big arms of comfort that when needed were there.
Equally, he was the one that introduced me to politics and to open my mind to what was going on in a greater context than my own bit of the world. We’d regularly watch together current affairs shows like World in action, The Cook Report and Panorama, with documentaries by the great John Pilger and supplemented with the comedy of Monty Python and Blackadder
That all changed twenty five years ago, I felt abandoned by him as he left to live his new life and even asked him at the time “why are you leaving me with her“, the answer of “because I have to” still rings in my ears and sends my eyes gushing like a great waterfall. I would sit glue eyed not to the soap operas but the news broadcasts as felt his presence when not there.
In the years since he has let me down, often a conversation to explain a situation was needed; from the birth of my half sister (rather than discovering via a card dumped on my brother as he ran out the door) to after my near suicide attempt being told I could not stay with him (we’d been estranged for a decade and been in contact 18 months when it happened).
My father’s achievements in medicine and to the world we live are quite impressive but as a man I feel I do not know who he is. Regardless of what he did or did not do, he will always be my father and the 21st of May I’ll always pause to think about him. So happy birthday to him, thank you for the good memories and hope he continues to be happy in his senior years.
© Fi S. J. Brown