My father moved from
My mother was born and raised in the East End of London, the daughter of white English working class parents. She was a smart, feisty and hard working woman.
They met on a production line in a factory. A few of the racist employees had rigged my father’s machine so that it wouldn’t work properly and my mother went to his rescue. That was in 1964 and, well, to cut a long story short, I was born the following year.
My parents had a hard time finding decent, affordable accommodation – many “To Let” signs included the adage “No Blacks, No Pakis, No Irish”. He was always in full time employment and she worked a series of part time jobs, some of them based at home (like gluing hand bags together).
During my childhood, my father began to drink and gamble heavily and many anxious Friday nights were spent waiting for him to come home. His religion would “flare up” frequently and turn our lives upside down. My parents separated quite a lot, sometimes for a few days or a week, sometimes for a month or a few months.
And then in 1975, my father’s “first” family arrived from
Around this time my father’s religious bent grew exponentially. Suddenly, not being allowed wear dresses without a pair of trousers underneath or take part in sports lessons that included boys was the least of it – there was talk of being taken to
In 1977 my parents separated for good. My father was living his religion and for him this meant living in a mosque environment and teaching the Quran, he became a fundamentalist.
My teenage years were spent dreading his visits and living for them at the same time. Whenever I raged about him, my mother would shrink and admonish me and say “don’t talk about your father like that”.
My 20s and 30s were marked by his sudden appearances in my life, turning things upside down again and me falling under his spell every time.
I was always a daddy’s girl. He called me Number One Daughter and made no secret of the fact that I was his favourite. I was completely entranced by him. I loved him even when I hated him.
My earliest memory is of my father. I was around 3 years old and with both of my parents in
I was with my mother when she died nearly 20 years ago. There’s no way to say this without sounding hackneyed, but she never stopped loving him. There was a kind of understanding between them that she never lost sight of but that he came to forget.
In 2005 I found out that my father had died earlier that year. I hadn’t seen him for some time and didn’t know that he was ill. His friend told me that he’d been talking about me just before he died. The friend remarked sadly, how difficult my father could be at times. Well, yes.
I’m not wondering what my parents would have made of me. I know that my mother’s love was unconditional and that my father’s love wasn’t. I need some closure though, and I’m planning to write him a letter and leave it in
The experience of my father taught me some pretty negative stuff that has been very difficult to know and unlearn – an ongoing process. The experience framed, and sometimes despite my best efforts continues to frame, my interaction with the world.
How have your parents framed you? Any daddy’s girls out there?