Fatherhood Without A Dad

And you though the last post was a weepy.
People have asked me how does it feel to be a dad and I sometimes reply, if I think they're really asking, that it's a little melancholic, just shy of depressing. Wonderful of course, that goes without saying, and I have to say that our little chap is just a total treasure and such a poppet - he's so good at sleeping that I'm sometimes tempted to wake him up just to say hello in the evening. However, there is a definite sadness that parenthood brings.
One aspect is the whole 'circle of life' completing the first turn of the wheel, about which I will save for another time. Another sadness is that I'm going through this without a Dad of my own. Ground truth here: I have a tremendous stepfather and have been loved and supported by many other men as I grew up. But none of these are my biological Dad as he sadly died when I was just 2.
I only have really one memory of my Dad which for a long time I had no idea was of him, as he was ill in hospital having undergone chemotherapy and I just had this memory of an old man throwing Malteasers out of an office block window. My am I thankful for that tiny glimpse of him now, but as I look at my little boy I realise that no matter how much love I give him now, if I were to die he'd simply not remember me at all and would similarly be cast into life with only half an explanation for why he is like he is. This is slightly more prevalent as last week I was sitting in the oncology unit at Addenbrooks waiting to see a specialist in lymphoma due to these ongoing night sweats. His opinion was that I've probably not got it owing to only this one apparent symptom, and there are other slightly less nasty nasties that can cause that (a range of virus / diseases), but if he was wrong then it didn't look promising.
So here I am, albeit not quite going through the exact same thing (yet?) as he must have gone though, but simulating things at least with the prospect of dying and leaving my son behind. Yes, those who know me might be shouting "oh no, not again, you've been banging on about dying your entire life", and yes, they're right, I have. But then there is that Spike Milligan headstone quote "I told you I was ill" which springs to mind.
It occurred to me that I'd never really considered what my dad would have thought about me as he was ill, would he have cuddled me and kissed me and told me he'd miss me? He must have. What was going through his mind, what sadness at the loss, not only of his own life but of seeing ours too? My God, the the thing that most puts me off death is not the dying but the missing out on life, and now I get to miss out on all his future days too. Bloody hell, that's an awful prospect. Meanwhile I was so young and so oblivious to life that I just got on with growing up in our special small family. Kids really are so adaptable. Noted the years of issues I've gone through probably as a direct result of the trauma at such an age and it goes without question to point out that my Mum did an amazing job with us, we had a wonderful childhood.
When we first discovered our bump was a boy, and not the girl I had hoped for, Su wisely noted that this would mean I could experience all those things that my dad would have had with me. What a precious gift, and how right she was. Now his gender is not even a thing, he is just my child, but he is my son and I am his dad. Lets assume/hope that I'm not dying and I'll get to see him grow up - I have a chance to teach him to be a boy and a man which is odd when I think of myself more as a mum. My loss has left me without a strong point of reference for how to be a man myself, so how do I teach him, or is it that we learn together?
At the weekend Su remarked at how different he is with me, perhaps because I give him a different type of interaction than she does. So perhaps it's natural and inbuilt. That was lovely to hear, and it was the first time I'd thought that perhaps I was a father. Gosh, when he first calls me dad (or daddy perhaps - mine was always daddy), that will be something. So to my daddy, whose birthday is today, thank you for starting me out in life and for those sadly unremembered years of love you gave me. I miss you but I find you in me more than ever as I look at my son, named after you.
2015-08-25