I have only one memory of him.
I was sitting on his knee, I must have been 2 or 3, and he was feeding me egg mayonnaise. It was my favourite food as a baby (or so they tell me).
You see, my mother divorced my father when I was a very small girl, and we were forbidden to every mention his name or ask any questions about him.
Later when I went to primary school I got a photograph of him from my gran. It was a black and white photo of a very handsome young police officer, making a joke with somebody behind him (not in the photo) and smiling with a pretty dimple in his cheek. Just like the one in mine.
dad – an informal term for a father; probably derived from baby talk
At the end of my 5th year of school, my gran got a call from the family on their side, and for some reason unknown to man, the cousins wanted to meet me and take me on a week long holiday to Durban.
And so they sent me off to strangers.
I met the cousins and they were really nice people. They took me shopping, and bought me new underwear, and my very first bra. Apparently the little boobs I was sprouting needed to be fitted into one of those, although nobody told me about any of this before.
The first night we slept at the cousins’ house and the aunt came to call me. They told me there was somebody who wanted to meet me in the living room, and so obediently I left the games we were all playing outside and went in.
To my utter surprise I found an old man sitting there, crying.
I did not really pay allot of attention to the goings on, I was a bit annoyed at missing out on all the fun outside. After a bit they let me go play again, and the next day we went on holiday. I guess it was fun.
On the way back from Durban, to go and drop me at home, the aunt asked me to write something to my dad on a piece of paper. I had no idea what she wanted me to write, and told her so. She said write there that you enjoyed meeting him, but that he should try and drink a bit less. Say that you would like that. And obedient child like I am, I wrote just that.
I never heard from that family again, and I have no idea if they ever enquired about me again.
By the time I reached 26 I had a call from my gran. She told me that my Father was in hospital, on his dying bed, and wanted to see me, to say goodbye.
I could not decide what to do. Should I go? I did not know that person. After about two days of agonizing over the problem I decided to go. It would mean nothing to say good bye to a stranger in my life, but it may give his soul some peace.
So I did.
I called the hospital to get the ward and information for the visit, only to be told he was released that morning. Apparently he wasn’t dying just yet. I was SERIOUSLY upset. I called my gran and asked her never, ever to call me again with any news, alive or dead from that person. I did not want to know, and still don’t.
Blood is definitely not thicker than water.