(See above: my father, myself and my brother)
Fathers’ Day has always been a kind of tough time for me, and not solely because I lost my own father at a very young age. My life has been oddly lacking in male role models, specifically of the patriarchal nature. I had no father nor grandfather in my life for me to model myself after, and instead grew up in the company of women, most notably my mother. Thus my idea of fatherhood is an instinctual one rather than a mimicked one. I imprint and bond with a child rather than applying layered social constructs which is a good thing I feel. As untraditional as my upbringing was so have my attempts at fatherhood also been. However, before I proceed, let me assure you that I adore children and have a natural affinity with them; I get them and they get me! Anybody who has seen me with children and seen how they instinctively are drawn to me and seek me out will bear witness to this. This made me a really good teacher as children love and respond to me. So it is ultimately rather sad that I have had no family of my own, because by all accounts I would have made an amazing father.
My attempts at fatherhood have been unmitigated, emotional disasters. I have had the great misfortune to have had women in my life who have used their children as weapons and instruments of leverage and manipulation, rather than just allowing me to love their children. The first woman/mother was while I was at Varsity studying teaching (now please, dear reader, understand that I am not trying to paint these women as evil-incarnates, there are reasons why they are the way they are and do what they do as we all do). She was, probably still is, a pathological liar, one of those people who can lie and then totally believe the lie she has created. We had become acquainted at some of the nightclubs I worked at while a student and had had the odd occasional sexual liaison over the years (don’t judge me, this was the 80s!). The truth was I didn’t even know her surname, so I actually had no idea who she was when she called me up 6 years after the last time I had seen her. Imagine my shock when she asked if I would like to be part of OUR child’s life, especially considering how she had told me this very elaborate, extremely detailed and emotional story of how she would never be able to have children as a result of an ovarian cyst. Having now found God and having changed her ways (no reason given for keeping me out of his life for so many years nor any apologies given) she told me that the boy was of course a miracle-child (she has since had at least one other miracle-child that I know of, so she’s one up on the Virgin Mary) and we proceeded from there. I want you to know that I did try and be part of the boy’s life. The reality, however, was that she was using him as some kind of emotional connection to me and I was never truly certain that he was mine (as I have said she lied a lot) and of course she wanted the money for his upkeep. She once said to my mother that she had him and therefore she would always have me.
It wasn’t long after this when the second child came into my life, my beloved “daughter”. I fell in love with this little two year old girl, and I really liked her mother (let’s call her Mother Two) but my attachment to her daughter created all sorts of havoc with Mother One, and after a couple of months of jealous threats and unpleasantness she pulled the boy out of my life, saying that if I wanted to see him again I would have to take her to court. Perhaps I should have, but understand that I was raised by a single mother, having had no father myself. I knew and know only the value of a mother, to me a father is of none, and therefore of what value was I? I knew that I could protect the little girl though, as I had tried to protect my mother for all those years after my father died, so I did. Her mother however, I think, deep down knew that I loved her daughter more than I cared for her (and I don’t blame her for this) and couldn’t take it. Needless to say she eventually broke off our engagement and kicked me out of the house we had bought. What followed then was a nightmare of her allowing and then denying me access to the little girl I thought of as my own daughter (and who called me her father). She eventually went as far as poisoning the child against me, blaming me for the failure of our relationship. This resulted in my not seeing the child for almost 3 entire years. When she was about to turn 16 though, she contacted me and we have gone a long way to repairing our relationship. I still love her dearly of course, I never stopped, she is my daughter and that will never change.
(See below: my daughter and I)
I cannot even begin to tell you what it feels like to lose a child, to describe the agony. There is very little quite so terrible and certainly nothing I have encountered.
Perhaps my nightmarish relationships with Mothers One and Two is why I have steered clear of romantic involvement, and as if to prove to me that I should have continued in this fashion, along came LA Woman and all the accompanying trauma (loads of my posts of the past year have dealt with this). Oh, and I see that she and the guy I suspected her of seeing while she was with me, are celebrating their anniversary! This is a school friend who she insisted on going on a dinner date with while we were still together in LA! I wasn’t happy about it but she said I had nothing to worry about because he was married. Ha! Then she comes home from the date and breaks up with me! Now remember this after I have, at her urging and insistence, given up everything in South Africa, and moved over to the States to marry her. I had also just asked her father for her hand in marriage a couple of days prior to this hellish night, and had her engagement ring in my bag (still with all the airline stickers on it) which I was to give to her after asking her mother’s permission. What kind of person does that? Through this whole thing I have tried to take the higher road and tried to be understanding, but as the sheer enormity of what she had done has unravelled I find myself at times simply overwhelmed that someone would do that to another person. So June 16th (Fathers’ Day this year, it would be) is their anniversary which was when I was still there! It is one thing to suspect someone of purposefully and maliciously doing something to you but it’s always a shock when the proof presents itself. The lies that LA Woman told me (and her friends and family… and herself I’m sure) are mindboggling! She broke up with me and basically left me alone in that apartment in Los Angeles for two weeks, always with some elaborate excuse, when she was with this guy all the time! Seriously? What type of person does that? And what a douche he is! He was either married or in the final stages of a divorce, and aware that LA Woman was in a relationship, but he wheedles and connives and cajoles himself into her life. No moral integrity! BUT!! She is worse because she allowed him to do it. He was just a loser without a job about to be kicked out of his home by a wife obviously tired of him and his crap, so he was looking for a rebound and a meal ticket. And of course this all happened around Father’s Day a year ago! Grrrr when I saw the congratulatory tweets about their anniversary it made me so angry. I could actually feel the White-trash rising and being brought out in me!
There is certainly a part of me that wishes I could give in to that “White-trash” part, that I was a vindictive person, so that I could make certain she got what she deserved for all the damage she wreaked in mine and my families’ lives. What could I have done you may ask? The answer is a hell of a lot! Firstly, while over there in Los Angeles I could have taken her ass to court for breach of promise as well as sued her for damages. I have all the mails etc. that she sent me, and in America, being the litigious nation that it is, I certainly could have found any number of lawyers to represent me. Secondly, I could have gone to the press because this is just the kind of juicy story people like especially because she belongs to a group that the press loathes. Thirdly, I could have approached the US Government and stated my case: that I had effectively emigrated there based on promises made by this woman and that I now needed their help. Fourthly, I could have just stayed right where I was and lived on her couch and made her life a nightmare. And finally, I could have created a website in her image with all the accompanying nastiness. Believe me, I have plenty of dirt and information and pictures. I could have really “White-trashed” her! But the fact is I am basically a good person and I really couldn’t and can’t bring myself to do any of of those things. This post is as about as bad and nasty as I get, and is only as a result of finding out the exact date of the douchey pair’s anniversary.
Yeah, effing Fathers’ Day, always a bad time for me! But I honestly feel bad whining about my little problems because I was reminded this Fathers’ Day, which fell on June 16th, that there are far worse things that can happen to you. In South Africa, June 16th is Youth Day, and commemorates and honours all the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against apartheid and Bantu education .
In 1953 the apartheid government enacted the Bantu Education Act, which established a black Education Department in the Department of Native Affairs. The role of this department was to compile a curriculum that suited the “nature and requirement of the black people”. The author of the legislation, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd (then Minister of Native Affairs, later Prime Minister), stated: ” Natives (blacks) must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans (whites) is not for them.” Black people were not to receive an education that would lead them to aspire to positions they wouldn’t be allowed to hold in society. Instead they were to receive education designed to provide them with skills to serve their own people in the homelands or to work in labouring jobs under whites. So when the Department of Education issued its decree that Afrikaans was to become a language of instruction at school, it exacerbated an already volatile situation. Students objected to being taught in the language of the oppressor. Many teachers themselves could not speak Afrikaans, but were now required to teach their subjects in it. On June 16, 1976, pupils protested, and police reacted with teargas and gunshots. Two were killed, and dozens injured, but in the violence sparked by this event, many more hundreds died.
Can you imagine your children being brutally assaulted by armed forces, even killed? How do you live with something like that, how do you forgive that, how do you stop yourself from becoming a racist and hating, judging a white person for doing this terrible thing? Also how did the ANC fathers who instigated the uprising (they like the impersonal phrase “mobilised”), sending their children out there like cannon-fodder to be chewed up by the apartheid military machine, live with themselves? Did they tell themselves that it was for the greater good ? Did that help them sleep at night? Did they sleep any better than the white policemen and soldiers who fired upon the school children?