Once upon a time, I had two dads, one with hard brown eyes and the other with soft ones. The dad with the hard eyes was a police officer who worked long shifts. He had a short temper and shouted at us for making too much noise. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – long hours, four children, and on a wage that was barely enough to support a family. I can see now why he was so hot-tempered. It pains me how we did nothing to help, but then again, we were just children.

I used to hate it when mum used those words, “Wait till your dad gets home!” The sound of the front door closing made me dread the hard, flat, angry eyes. He would come looking for me and his usual words were – “Apologise to your mother,” or “Get up to your room now!”

It was worse when I got older and given a curfew. It wasn’t fair that all my friends came home when they liked and I wasn’t allowed. I couldn’t understand why my Dad had to be different. He insisted on knowing where I was going, and who I was with. He disapproved of my ‘going to town’ because it was ‘his patch’ and he knew all the bad pubs and clubs. Without explanation, he would ban me. It never seemed fair.

Now, I know he was being protective, but it caused such caused conflict as I hated him laying down the law like that. Now, I understand why, and I wish I could tell him. I wish he was back here with me now where we could talk, and I could tell him how I finally understood. I could empathise because I went through the same with my own children. Parents care, and and it’s pity we can’t see it at the time.

My other dad, the one with the soft brown eyes made us laugh and was good fun to be with. “Give me your hand and I’ll tell your fortune,” he would say. Then, as he peered into my palm, he’d declared, “I can see a farmhouse.” I looked closely and saw nothing but criss-cross lines. “And here is a pond.” Then spat in my hand!

“Dad!” I screamed, horrified. Although, I must admit it was funny when I watched him do it to my siblings.

Holidays were fun too. We’d walk up the hills, play on the top, and run down the other side with him. We collected seashells on the beach and climbed rocks. He built us sandcastles and racing cars with seats and steering wheels. He also buried us up to our necks, watched us leap out, as sand scattering everywhere. We ran into the sea giggling, to clean up, while he watched on in amusement. Another day and he would take us to a field to chase moles that only he could see.

Wherever he went, we followed. He would do silly things like walk with a limp, and we’d copy him, or he would walk with us in a line behind him, then suddenly stop and we all crashed into one another.

Dad could not tell a joke because he’d forget the punch line, or the laughter in his eyes gave him away first.

The police officer finally hung up his helmet and the hard brown eyes became soft all the time. We grew up and left home, Dad and Mum went on to have a second family with four adopted children. They never saw the policeman with the hard eyes.

Eventually our Dad ran out of energy, and couldn’t run along beaches any more. He walked with a limp for real.

We miss those laughing eyes and bad jokes, and hope that wherever he is now , he’s still making the children laugh.

This Father’s Day, why not treat your Dad to a paperback book. We have some good ones that make lovely gifts.

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