I never knew what my Dad thought of me other than through his rhetorical outbursts e.g. ‘Ya wee rat, ye,’ or ‘Ya dirty swine.’ whenever I’d transgressed one of his unwritten transgressions as a child. But these utterances were borne out of anger or frustration. What I longed to know was whether or not he loved me. He was not the sort of man who you could go up to and ask this question. I tried to elicit the answer via other means such as pleasing him in some way. However no matter how many means I attempted the most I received was a slight nod; a morsel of approval. Our relationship when I reached my late teens was tempestuous at best. I finally left home then. By my early thirties he chose to disown me because of my conversion to the Christian faith. I never knew why he was so hostile to it though I did learn that he had been educated in a socialist Sunday school as a child. Remarkable too that he was the one who sent me to the church Sunday school every week. This was not for spiritual succour I hasten to add but rather to clear the house in order to give him peace and quiet. Be this as it may he died in 1992 taking with him the unresolved question: did Dad love me?
Some time after his death Mother and me were going through his effects when I came across one of his wallets. Inside was a wad of photographs of his brothers and sisters and also of Mother. Of his eight offspring there was only one photo – a coloured, slightly creased snap of me as a seven-year old. I was touched, even more so when I turned the photo over. There written on the back in his handwriting and with a sweeping, confident flourish were the tender words: “Dad’s pet, David.” Question resolved