My parents divorced when I was 18 years of age. Even though I knew that they weren’t getting along (and hadn’t been for years) it still came as a bit of a shock for my brother and I. When we were younger, my father ran the local football club, in which my brother played for. My brother is 3 years younger that I am, and was close to my father when he was 10-12 and playing on my dad’s team, but my father was not really happy when my father’s interests turned to karate instead. My brother was now going to his karate lessons with his friends, and not going to football with my dad. When I was the same age, my interests were books, boys and pop stars (not necessarily in that order!). I think this distance between us in our younger years may have disappointed my father all his life.
When I got married and had my own children, the situation between my father and mother never improved. Having children just highlighted this. They had to attend birthday parties for both mine and my brother’s children (there are four grandchildren altogether) and this was a real discomfort for them. At one memorable party that I gave for Liam (his 5th), my mother was seen practically running down the road from where the party was, when she spotted my father enter the room. If they happened to ‘clash,’ when one was babysitting and the other showed up unexpectedly, then there was a quick rush to ‘get out of there.’ I could never resolve this behaviour in my head. It seemed to me that my father was still in shock from the divorce, and desperately wanted to talk about it with my mother. He never had that opportunity, because she never gave it to him. It was sad to watch.
When Jeff and I decided to emigrate, I think both of my parents thought that they had pushed me away with their behaviour. This was not the case, but I could never get them to believe this, so wrapped up were they in their own hurtful feelings towards each other. I had wanted to go to college from school, and then to travel, but I hadn’t plucked up the courage to do so. The opportunity to travel and live in another country was too tempting to refuse, it was such an exciting time for us.
It was when we were living in Australia for 7 months when my brother phoned and told me that my dad had died. Even now, after living in Australia for nearly 10 years, it is surreal to me that he has gone. My mother visited me after he died, and she was so much more upset than I. She got drunk one night and let rip. Even though I had witnessed and heard her grievances against him before, it still felt shocking to me. I felt like I was back in Wales, and nothing seemed to have changed. Her reactions to his death felt weird considering their animosity when they were both alive. Their bond had certainly never diminished. As I have got older, I have realised that witnessing my parent’s relationship has taught me the various nuances of love, and its complications. That will always be my parents’ legacy to me.