I had this funny moment a few weeks ago, I looked at my hands as I washed the paint off them from the jobs I'd been doing and I saw my dad's hands. I'd reached an age where my hands look like how I remember his. Like memories do, they flooded in, countless memories of my dad.
I can recall watching my dad. I'd watch him potter on for hours waiting for a go on the tools that he was using around the house. I remember him cutting his finger as he fitted a pane of glass and wondering if I would ever be as brave as him to not cry if I cut my finger.
I remember my only trip to the pictures with him to see a James Bond film.
I remember train journeys with him.
I remember him teaching me to ride a bike on a summers night in the late 70s, all the kids in the street came to watch as I was so bad at it, I remember crying.
I remembered the rough and the smooth.
I remember twisting the arms of the nurses to be let into hospital at 11pm the night I was convinced he was going to die. I 'knew' that this was his last night alive and I needed to make things right, he said he was proud of me it was the best moment of my of my life. He lived on a few more days and we made some more memories.
I remembered this and I remember that as I looked at my hands. I didn't have to recall them all individually it was like a block of emotion and history dropped into my consciousness with a thud as I looked at these familiar paint specked hands. Good and bad memories, love endures, a dad's unspoken love for a son and a son's wonky love for a dad.
It then got me thinking how my children would remember me. I felt sad that they'd never look in a mirror and see shadows of me in their appearance. That's a problem I can't fix and a place I'm not sure that I want to go to. The 27 year old me wasn't bothered the 45 year old me is not so indifferent.
I wondered how my children will feel when they're 45 when they think of me, their adoptive dad. That's a slippery slope to Unhappy Town. Parenting children who've walked the adoption road makes you a different kind of dad, yes I'm their dad but I'm also not their dad. A peculiar place, see I told you this was a slippery slope. My identity is often woven into the identity of earlier dads. I recall the fear of a six year old when she found out that her new daddy drank beer as well. My children's views of the world are unique and specific to their lived lives. Children's perceptions can be so wrong and right, it's hard to know what they'll think.
My dad died the day of my first adoption assessment home visit. That seems odd now, he wasn't so sure about our plan to adopt, he said some unkind things. He would have loved his grandchildren I think it would have been easier than being a dad for him. Today is father's day, just another day when men think about their dads.