My relationship with my father, as I've mentioned before, has been tumultuous at best. The stories about the tension between us began even before I was born. When my parents would begin to argue, my mother would regale me with tales of how I was born with a hand print, my father's hand print, on my back. Proof of his violence towards my mother whilst she was pregnant. Or how, as an infant, I would scream bloody blue murder whenever my dad came near or tried to hold me. If you ask me, we never had a chance.
Growing up I never saw my father as available, caring, supportive. He was brutal, narcissistic, believing strongly in the adage that children should be seen and not heard, and if you asked him, they didn't much need to be seen either. He was not a generous man, not a playful man - except with others, except for the "show".
I always believed my dad regretted having kids, if he considered it at all. Maybe that's closer to the truth, that he didn't consider us, me. He didn't spare a thought about me, about how I might be feeling, about how I was affected by the world, by his brutishness, by my mother's drinking.
And yet somehow all that has changed. Whether it's his vascular dementia that changed things - tiny strokes causing structural changes in his brain where once his heartlessness lived; or his aging, softening him up, so that he is aware of his vulnerability, and my willingness to care for him. I don't know. But I'm grateful for the change. He has a soft dopiness about him. He is always happy to see me, likes hugging and kissing, feels better himself for it, tells me that he loves me.
I'm grateful for my dad. I'm grateful I can say that.