Sunday, 19 June 2011
Why I'm not celebrating Father's Day
In my gmail bin I have an email inviting me to 'adopt a veg' for Father's Day, an email offering CAMRA Father's Day gift membership, and a third offering 25% off fairtrade ties for... you guessed it.
Spammers don't care what percentage of recipients actually buy their stuff. These totally legitimate organisations, whose messages I am usually happy to receive, don't seem to care what percentage of their recipients don't have fathers to buy presents for.
Or don't want to buy a present.
OK, I tend to shun capitalist plots like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day anyway (my husband gets nothing, because we agreed; my mother gets a 'Mothering Sunday' card, because that's what she wants). I especially shun capitalist plots that are new: I don't remember Father's Day even existing when I lived with my parents.
But there's more to it than that. I don't want to think about Father's Day because I don't want to think about my father.
It used to be easy. On Mothering Sunday I avoided church, because I didn't want to be reminded of my childlessness. Now, you have to avoid the internet as well. On Facebook and Twitter, everyone wants to gush about how much they love their father.
Except the ones who don't.
There are plenty of us around. All dysfunctional families are dysfunctional in their own way, and mine is none of your business. But every time I hear how much someone loves their dad, I feel bereaved.
Not because mine is dead. That matters so little that I can't even remember the date it happened. Because I lost him a long time before that.
Yesterday's Guardian 'Family' section had some typical crowdsourced emotionalism: open letters to readers' fathers. One stood out: the one that said 'I mourned for the father I had never had'. That's why I cried when my father died: not for him, but for the lost chances.
And every time someone tells me how happy their family is, or tries to sell me a present for my dead dad, I mourn again.