Father’s Day

This will be a blog post about my Dad because it is Father’s day.

There is so much I could say about my Dad and yet there is so little. For a long tome he had not been a part of my life, for 18 years to be precise. Especially the last years of those 18, I started to feel a hate for the man. That hate turned into bitterness, at that stage I realized that I had to do something about it. I had just got married and my wife deserved better then to have a bitter man.

I had found out where my Dad worked, which was in a restaurant in Valkenburg, the south east of the Netherlands which was only a few miles from where we lived. My wife and I, although she was still my girlfriend at the time, went to Valkenburg and sat down on a terrace of the restaurant where he worked.

I have to admit I was impressed to see him at work. Bringing out about 6 meals at the same time, balancing 3 meals on his left arm and 3 meals on his right arm, it was like watching an artist at work.

He did spot us and he came over to us and offered us a drink. It was a bit strange situation, awkward even, so we left after we finished our drinks.

A few months passed again and I decided to reach out to my Dad. But as is often the case, fate beat me to it. In early January 1996,my paternal grandmother died, a woman who I didn’t really know, but my Father called me and asked me if I wanted to come to the funeral. I had a chat with my wife and siblings, and we decided to go especially because our Mother gave us the blessing to go.

At the funeral I could not feel but sorry for the man who I recognized as my Father. We had a chat afterwards and said we would meet again, but had not set a date.

Alas fate hit again and on January 26th ,1996, my Mother suddenly passed away. This time it was my Dad’s turn to come to the funeral. My Mom was very loved by friends and neighbours which was evident at her funeral, because the church was packed. There were even people outside, my Dad was in the hall of the church.

When we walked out, he was there with his arms wide open, ready to embrace us.

The tragedy of my Mom’s death was also the moment that rekindled my relationship with my Dad. There were a few more unfortunate events though, both my wife and I were hospitalised, I in March and my wife in May of 1996. This however strengthened the bond between my Dad and I. He also ended up in hospital a few weeks later. So 1996 was a turbulent year for the family.

What copper fastened our relationship was the fact that one day my Dad visited me at home, we had a good chat and he asked me for forgiveness for the mistakes he had made. To me this was a very brave act, because I jus didn’t know how I may react to that. I also noticed that maybe I lost track of him, he definitely kept track of me, he even knew the grades I got for my school exams.

In 1997 my wife and I immigrated to Ireland, just to make sure that she would be close to her parents. At that stage air travel between Ireland and the Netherlands had become very affordable, therefor it would be possible for me and my Dad to visit each other whenever we wanted.

Our relationship grew stronger and stronger. I had come to understand my Father, his Dad was killed during World War 2, when my Father was still only very young, he was only 5 at the time. So he never really got to know his own Dad, and he never had a Father-Son bond with his own Dad. How could I hold a grudge, knowing this? I couldn’t, was the answer.

Despite having a few health scares he held on, Alas in 2015 he passed away. It was Father’s day 2015 that was the last time I got to see him and talk to him. This time we used modern technology, we had a chat via Skype. Little did we know then that so many would celebrate Father’s day in a similar way in 2020 and 2021. due to the Covid 19 pandemic

Six days later he died.

His story did not end there. He was cremated on July 2nd 2015.The following day my siblings and I decided to go his birthplace, Maastricht, to celebrate his life. When we were there we saw that Andre Rieu would start a week long of concerts, starting that day . We thought that this would be the perfect way to celebrate Dad, but we also knew it would be impossible to get tickets. We tried all the surrounding restaurants at the Vrijthof, where the concert would be held, they offered a dinner and the concert.

All of the restaurants said ‘no’ the tickets had been sold out for months. For some reason though, the last place we tried also said no, but he also he would try to get something sorted for us. He told us to come back just before the concert would start, but we were to come via the back entrance of the restaurant, We did as we were told and the man had arranged a table for us on the terrace, so we could see and hear the concert and also enjoy the meal. I thanked the man and explained to him why we were there that day. That must have touched him because when we wanted to pay, the waitress said there was no charge. We felt that moment our Father looked out for us.

Happy Father’s day to all the Fathers out there. Enjoy it and make the most of it, because you just don’t know what tomorrow brings.