My Charismatic Father

My father as a beautiful boy

My father on the right as a beautiful boy

As I have been browsing other bloggers posts, I have noticed some lovely memorials to fathers who have passed on. It struck me that although my Dad died in 1990, I have no similar memories. He disappeared from my life when I was about 2 years old and, to all intents and purposes, abandoned us in Glasgow at my Grandmother’s home. Not only that, he ‘borrowed’ money from my mum’s family, never to be repaid.

My mum was a very complicated person with a mental illness and alcohol problem. When I was younger she invariably tried to boost the image of my Dad – told me how handsome, talented, clever and creative he was. I was aware that the rest of her family did not share that opinion. Then, one wonderful day, a giant package arrived from the States. Usually the parcels at Christmas were from my two single maternal aunts and one relative of my father. This one was from my father and it was full of a strange mixture of toys including a pink Cadillac, a fire engine and a large baby doll. I was so excited to receive something from this elusive father. I wasn’t quite old enough to figure out why my mum was conflicted about the parcel – we never did receive any alimony.

As the years passed, a clearer picture of my father emerged. He was a deeply flawed but utterly charismatic man who may well have had mental health issues – certainly he was an alcoholic. In one awful drunken revelation, my mum wailed at me that my Dad had wanted her to get an illegal abortion in 1959. I can still remember how devastating that was to me – not only was I an unwanted burden to my mother but my father probably only married my mother because of my existence. To make things worse I also knew that my father’s cousin, my aunt Jackie, wanted to adopt me because of the circumstances of my birth. How I longed that she had.

Time moved on, I had inherited not just a damaged psyche but a genetic mental illness. I married very young and when I was around 30 found out that we could not have children. That must have triggered something in my head and I asked my mum if she would be upset if I tried to trace my Dad but she was surprisingly keen. Long story short, I found him and he was happy to have reconnected. In essence, I had never met him and was struck by how sexy and alluring his voice was. It resonated beautifully.

There is no happy ending. Eventually, I couldn’t stand to even speak to him after many drunken calls in the middle of the night. He died in desperately sad circumstances, alone, and I am just sad that I don’t have a wonderful Dad to pay tribute to. The one person, who knew him intimately and did not dislike him, told me that I inherited his charisma. I have been told that I have a sexy and alluring voice, too.

I have written some more about him in my Kindle Book –
Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan

PS. After I wrote this I looked at my avatar and my Dad as a child and realized our faces are identical.

35 thoughts on “My Charismatic Father

  1. Sweet Kerry, I am so sorry to hear about the struggles with your parents and your upbringing. I have major respect for you for posting this and sharing this story.

    I avoid most posts that are tributes to lovely mothers or fathers – I absolutely cannot handle it. I respect the needs and desires of others to pay tribute to their awesome parents – but for those of us who lack that, it’s more than difficult to read.

    And here you are, rather than pretending it away you’re sharing the other side. Much respect, much love and much empathy. You’re a strong woman. And brave.

    Liked by 6 people

    • You know, children just accept their reality even when it’s hurtful. Very often I just felt guilty for existing. I am sorry if you can relate to my experience but glad you can empathize and thank you for the hug, x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What to say.
    Why are our parents so flawed and how do they affect us so much.
    I never pay tribute to my father and although I did love him he was not a role model in many, if any, ways.
    I understand what you have written only too well and am glad you are now able to deal with it.
    Your friend,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing this post, which must have been very painful to write. My father died young—killed in a car accident. I knew him better than any of my younger sisters did. He was a troubled man too, but he did try to be a good dad. He had four daughters and encouraged us to be anything we wanted to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one of those posts where I don’t really know what to say for fear of sounding stupid, insensitive, trivial, etc. Usually I would just slip away quietly without a word wrapped in my own awkwardness.
    … but I can’t this time. As Steph said in her comment, you were so brave in writing this post and confronting all the emotions and what-ifs that go with it. That is damn hard to do.
    I still don’t know what to say … but I can send you a hug.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Such a brutally honest post, Kerry. You are in thoughtful mood today. I loved learning a little more about you, you have not had an easy life, and I’m sorry for that. But it has made you who you are, and I really like that small part of you I have got to know through our blogs. I had an absentee father too who did not support me or my sister in any way. My sister has some semblance of a relationship with him I believe, but I don’t see the point. Hes a total stranger to me who I feel nothing for. My mother did the best she could. It was hard for her. But I never missed having a father figure around, still don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry that you also didn’t have a father figure. In some ways I think you don’t miss what you never had but I still long to have known my father personally. He was wrecked by the time I knew him by both mental illness and other addictions. I struggled a little with marriage because I lived in an all female environment but we figured it out. I am just a little bossy….:)


  6. Kerry, first of all I’m very happy our paths crossed on WP. This was a touching and very unsentimental story and all the better for it. I think most people tend to wear rose-tinted glassed when it comes to their parents, romanticising, idolising or sentimentalising them. But they are just people and unfortunately, they can wreak a lot of damage because children are 100% dependent on them, their moods, their love, care or lack of it. Having children is such a huge responsibility that wanting to run away from it seems understandable. But of course, once you have a beautiful baby in this world you have to do everything you can to make sure it’s safe, loved and nurtured. I’m glad your mom didn’t listen to your dad and you made it through it all, still I think it’s cruel to tell you your dad wanted an abortion. Sometimes I think we spend the best part of our adulthood undoing the damage inflicted upon us as children, while we could instead focus on thriving and living our full potential.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh, thank you for such a kind and insightful comment. People can say terrible things when they are in angst with mental illness but I would have prefer never to have known. I have a very firm belief that, for the most part, we don’t owe our parents anything. It was entirely their choice to procreate. That said, my moral compass and love for my mum made me a consistent care giver but it was often grudged. Forgiveness is the hardest thing of all but I have finally forgiven my parents and myself. I, too, am so glad that our paths have crossed. K x

      Liked by 1 person

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