A Family Man

Relationships can be a funny old thing. I’ve often admired the couple celebrating their silver or golden wedding anniversary surrounded by well brought-up children and grand children. Yet that is something I shall never experience. Or so I believed. When I was first married in 1979 at the tender age of 23 the thought of having children filled me with horror. We agreed that we were both too selfish to ever consider having a family. Being tied down. I had been brought up in Corby’s Thoroughsale Road by wonderful parents, but because there were six of us all living in the same small house I vowed, even as a boy, that when I got married the last thing I should ever want would be the chaos and mayhem of family life. We wanted all the material comforts in life, work hard and to plan our financial future which would allow us to retire at a relatively young age. We did have a Jack Russell called Barney and a black cat called Archie, but that was that. John Lennon once said that ‘life is what happens whilst your busy making other plans.’ My wife died suddenly in 1994. We had no children. I shall be 53 this year and, to date and to my best knowledge, have never fathered a child. But things have changed. I met a wonderful lady and fell in love. Some might say that she came to me with ‘baggage’ (how I abhor that expression) in other words she has four children, a mother, and one grandson. I’m suddenly a surrogate father who has to learn to share: not only material things but other things like space, time and love. The whole experience flies in the face of everything that I once held so selfishly. Suddenly it is I that is vying for affection, acceptance and reciprocal love and attention. The word compromise has taken on extreme measures, not to mention patience, tolerance and temperament. Sometimes it’s difficult. Finding time for oneself was always a precious commodity. Having a lie-in on a Saturday morning. Watching what I like on TV. Eating whatever and whenever I liked and a trip down to the pub? Why not. I was never used to teenagers treating my home as their own or treating me with suspicion sometimes, because, after all, I’m not their father. Thankfully not one of them has not yet uttered those greatly anticipated words of dread, ‘You’re not my father!’ and I’m still trying to figure out how I might react should the day ever come. My ‘better half’ is an amazing woman with a temperament to match. She has seen me through this time of change quite brilliantly. Then, just the other day, as I was pretending to do something constructive with my time in the shed, I heard something which has made me completely re-evaluate my entire existence. Two words spoken so gently that have had such an impact on my life and had the instant power to bring tears to my eyes. ‘Hello granddad’. ‘Hello son’.

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