The phone rang at 7am this morning. My house phone rarely rings, and never this early so I gathered the call was an emergency. My Father-in-law (FIL) had trouble urinating and so my husband, Mike, had to rush down to the other end of the island to take him to the A&E, the umpteen times this had happened. Thank goodness this was again proved to be a false alarm. He just didn’t drink enough water.
My FIL calls my husband every morning, to complain of his pain and discomfort, which to Mike’s credit, he listens and advises with much patience. I too listen in, with admiration sometimes, as Mike was never close to his father and had rarely any conversation with him when he was younger. Every phone call back home was to speak to his mother, even if Dad happened to answer the phone, it was, can I speak to Mom. Perhaps because of this, he tries to bond better with his sons, even if he was mostly an absentee father in their younger days. I was the 24/7 mother who taught them to cycle, signed them up for the extra curriculum activities, and trained them for their 2.4 km runs, nagged them to practise piano and went to learn model drawing for Maths in order to tutor them. I was the disciplinarian, as well as had the awkward task to teach them about the birds and the bees as the father thought sexuality education was the school’s responsibility. There were many occasions when he asked about his sons when they were present and I had to remind him to talk to them directly, instead of through me. I chastised him for not knowing his sons, who their best friends were, their favourite authors or favourite food.
Now that he is retired, I am glad to see him making an effort to bond with them, although I feel my sons are taking advantage of him. He has become their chauffeur, ferrying them home from soccer or driving them back to camp. My sons would say I do the same but I am in a different class from them. He is their first aider, dressing their wounds or massaging their sore muscles. I wondered aloud once to my husband if he conversed with his sons in the car and the answer then was no. I wonder if they do now but I doubt so. The sons would most probably be on the phone.
I wonder if my sons appreciate their father, who never complains when he receives rejections to his request to help mow the grass or any other chores. My sons rarely hear any complaints from him, probably because I have more than compensated for both of us, screaming at the boys for poor grades, unmade beds, teachers’ complaints, and then screaming at my husband for not doing his part in disciplining them. I am still doing it but less often.
We don’t celebrate Father’s Day, and I think we don’t need a day to do that if we are already doing our part for our parents. But it’s good to ponder this relationship. Would they entertain their father’s daily phone calls too in future like how Mike is doing now for his father?
If only my sons know how lucky they are to have such a caring and obliging father, one I was deprived of but strangely never missed. Or do I?