I have always been a Daddy's girl. I grew up seeing the amazement, admiration, pride in my father's eyes. At the same time, because of my unfortunate status of being an only child, I have also been an instrument in which to echo my father's dreams and wishes, my father's "second chance" so to speak. Before I go on, I should state now that I love my father.
As a child he had always been my source of comfort, and being an only child, a title I have now come to detest, did not affect me the way that it does now. I was glad there was no sibling rivalry, vying for paternal affection. He was everything to me and I was everything to him. So much has changed now. Our relationship at the present is stunted, tense, sometimes bitter and sometimes pretentious, and while I know I'll always have his love, I know that he's disappointed in the choices that I've made. I've squashed his hopes and dreams, his second chance. Let me start from the beginning.
My parents lived in a small village in Derry, Co. Down. They were "high-school sweethearts". After leaving school my father proposed and twelve months later they were married. It was just a simple, low-key affair he told me but it was one of the happiest days of his life and just as wonderful as any wedding with all the fancy trimmings. They had discussed starting a family but had decided to wait because Dad had wanted to go to University to study for a Phd in Law. This was his one, true dream. To become a Lawyer.
He explained to me many times that they had both, my mother and father, come from poor families. They lived in a time where life was hard and every penny counted. He wanted to provide a better life for his wife and future children, so he made the sacrifice and heart-wrenching decision to leave his new bride to go to University in Dublin. He travelled home most Friday evenings where he would fall easiy into marital bliss and reluctantly return to Dublin every Sunday evening. One weekend however, he returned home to the unexpected news that my mother was " in the family way ". It had come as a complete surprise to both of them but in the end it was decided that my father would continue to go to Dublin to study.
He was content with life and was looking forward to the impending arrival and my mother, with her natural maternal instincts, couldn't hide her delight at the prospect of motherhood. " She glowed from the inside, out. There was an aura of happiness around her that no-one could intrude on. Those were the happiest months of both our lives", my father once told me. Their happiness turned tragically sour however, when seven months into her pregnancy, my mother was rushed to hospital in premature labour. My father was in Dublin and by the time he arrived , I was born but my mother had died. She had a condition called pre-eclampsia and though they tried frantically, there was nothing that the doctors could do to save her in the end. My father never got the chance to say good-bye and that has lived in his conscious mind all these years.So he left University, and his dreams behind, to care for me.