What Dads Do

Discarded Oracle

This morning, Ke gawped at me, jaw hanging, eyes wide in disbelief. She let out long sigh – Wow Karen, you’ve certainly got someone looking over you. Your guardian angels sure know when to turn up…

I’d just explained why I was out of character late arriving and why I was in the Battle Bus rather than sitting in my usual Galaxy… She shook her head in sympathy when I told her about last night and how the front offside tire had blown out and left me stranded. She cooed concerned and asked what time I managed to get home and blessed me for still getting up today. Her shock was in response to the answer I gave her when she asked what I had been doing on that road anyway? That’s not your normal route?

No… It’s not my normal route… Yesterday I was heading that way then found myself thinking that today was not a good day to go that way… A voice in my head had said to take the slow and windy route… Which was a good job in hindsight as an unexpected explosion travelling at 25mph was a much better experience than it would have been if I’d been tanking down the dual carriage way at 60…

When I heard the BOOM last night, my heart sank and feelings of dread stated to flood in… Fuck fuck fuck…what have I done? I was obviously thinking out loud as my passenger replied – Karen, you’ve not done anything! You’re just driving along and something’s gone wrong with the car.

I looked at her – oh… Shit it’s late and I’ve got to ring the boss at home… I rang my boss. She’s forthright and down to earth practical. OK so are you somewhere safe? OK… Ring the tire company.

I remind her that last time I rang the tire company, they left me with a stranded vehicle for 3 days… I tell her I’ll try breakdown and see if I can get them to get me back to base… Then I can switch cars and finish… I rang breakdown to be told 3-4hrs wait possibly more… I relay back to manager and yeah… I can wait but I’m not relishing the idea of being here until its almost time to get up for tomorrow’s shift…

My passenger who’d asked me if I wanted a cigarette, laughed when I said I didn’t smoke and commented yeah I know you don’t smoke but this is the kind of thing where non smokers have just one, had gotten out of the car. I assumed to have a roll up. Whilst I’m still on the phone, she gets back into the car – Don’t worry! All sorted!

What? How?

My Dad’s coming!

Manager chimes in – has he got tools? OK let me check insurance conditions… OK… Go for it, get it back to base then don’t drive it until its been checked over by a mechanic.

Within minutes the cavalry arrives. My passenger jumping up and down waving OVER HERE! I’m stunned at the speed of response and she laughs and says to me That’s what Dads DO! I wry smile and laugh… Oh not mine… That puzzles her, she looks at me What? Why not? Is he dead? That amuses me… That’s one way of putting it I guess… Let’s not get into that today…

The last contact I had with my father was 2012, around 9 months after my last contact with my mother. For a while these were facts that I never readily disclosed to other people. In the early days when the subject somehow or another came up and I would say I had no contact, it wasn’t something that many people could easily grasp… A concept hard to fathom… It would provoke judgmental comments… my actions branded as sinful, shameful, disrespectful…unnatural… I would hold back the tears and chastise myself for speaking… Over time, I felt less teary and would benevolently smile at these people and give silent thanks for the charmed life that they’d obvioulsy lead. Surely you must have been very blessed in life if you can’t even imagine someone else has had a vastly different experience in life to you? Somewhere between then and now, I came across the term ‘elective orphan’ and the relief of knowing that hey! There’s a name for this?! I’m not a fucked up psychopath?? Followed by the overwhelming sense of sadness… There’s a name for this?! That means there’s hundreds? thousands? countless? more people out there who’ve lived through similar shit to mine… I took on board the title and sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t but something must have shifted in me as when I stopped feeling as though I had to hide away this part of me, people stopped judging… Somehow these days, kinder people cross my path… surprisingly or unsurprisingly, quite a few other elective orphans… When I’ve met other E.O.s we’ve just kind of instantly recognised something within each other though it can take a good while for us to voice out loud OH! You too! OK… that explains why you feel like tribe…

There’s a legacy that comes with being an E.O. (there’s probably quite a few, but let’s go with one for now). The legacy is mostly useful in that we are self-reliant. It’s also sometimes a pain in the arse as we wear ourselves into the ground trying to do everything rather than ask for help. I’ve never been used to receiving help… It was either denied or came with so many conditions and shifts of goal posts that it was easier to just struggle through solo than go crawling on bended knee…

Last night I was surrounded by a functional family, a bunch of strangers who for a short-while adopted me. My passenger’s mother finished off my runs for me… Her father, grabbed his tool kit and dived under my car. Oh, the tools don’t fit! We put our heads together and find I have tools stowed away in a secret compartment, not shown in the user manual… We work things out between us, laugh and joke like we’ve known each other for ages. I enjoy his happy go lucky nature and generous spirit and I try not to think about it, but I do anyway… I think how my own father would be the last person I would call… I think about how if I was in that desperate a position, he would pour scorn on me, call me stupid and blame me for the damage…

My loaned Dad picked up the wrecked tire… Wow! That’s a mess! You’re very lucky you didn’t have a serious accident!

I look at the shredded tire and agree… Again, I think out loud… Bloody hell, what have I done? How have I managed to fuck this up so badly…

Laughter interrupts my thoughts… A kind voice telling me – You didn’t do this! Sometimes things are defective and they were just wating to blow. You were going along doing your job and something unexpected happened. You were just in the wrong place at the right time! Come on, it’s all sorted, off you go and get home safely.

Just for good measure, as soon as the last bolt is tightened, a car pulls up to offer help… Hey we’re ok… He goes… Another car pulls up – Is there anything I can help you with? I don’t know mate? Can you come back an hour ago? 😀

I wave goodbye to my loaned Dad… His words remain a legacy in my ears…

The wrong place at the right time

I like those words… They feel to sum up my upbringing… The wrong place at the right time… Sometimes people assume that if you’ve gone zero contact with your parents, then you must hate them or be holding on to anger… That’s not how I feel… I feel neutral… If pushed to make a statement then I would say that as the person I’ve become I feel that I’ve become better rather than bitter. The facets of the their personaltities that they chose to express to me, are things that lead me to where I am now and I’m happy with my life, my husband and our brood… Growing up in my family… yeah… that was the wrong place at the right time…

Wide eyed Ke is convinced I have guardian angels… I can see where she’s coming from but I’m not entirely sure I always believe in things I can’t see… What I do know from experience is that when you’re stranded in life then the help you need finds its way to you… Is that guardian angels? Who knows? I do know I believe in the kindness of strangers. I’ve been touched by that many times.

2 thoughts on “What Dads Do

  1. Wow. EOs. I never knew, but it makes sense. From other folk I’ve known, I can see it can be better to be an EO in the long run. The damage done and redone by trying to hang on to seriously dysfunctional family members just seems to go on forever. Like getting the 3 of Swords over and over.

    Yeah, you definitely have great guardian angels in many forms, I sense.

    I also don’t know what was in your soul when you painted the card at the top of this article. But I get a definite 6 of Cups vibe with children playing. Maybe one of them is that kid from the Sun card . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To cut yourself away frees up a lot of energy. It’s not until you walk away that you realise just how much of your energy is consumed by it.
      It’s a while now since I painted this. I recall thinking about Sparta and babies being left out in the elements to determine if they were fit enough to survive. I wanted to draw the 3 Norns standing over the child but couldn’t work out initially how to add the figures without messing up the image already laid down. It was made using encaustic wax which is great but not easily controllable as you have to work fast or you muddy your colours also you have to stop at the right point or you can lose the whole image, never to be able to repeat it again… Eventually, I decided to photograph what I had and then use my hand to cast a shadow over that was suggestive of figures… So I guess I layered in a protective hand. I love that you wrote maybe one of them is the kid from the Sun card. XIX is my hidden birth card! So yes, I like that idea a lot! Thanks Joanne 😊💡❤️

      Like

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