“How’s the cold? Is the grim reaper still lurking around?” Dad asks and chuckles. “Have you been at work this week?”
“Uhm, better,” I reply, “and I’ve been at work as usual. Have a new job, actually.”
“What? You changed jobs? Again? You switch jobs like a normal person changes their underwear!” he exclaims.
Dad’s of that generation where you do the same thing your whole life and not uncommonly staying at the same company too. He left school the moment he could, started as a dogsbody at the bank as a teenager and worked his way up – by his mid-twenties he was the bank manager, then a director and by the time he retired at the comfortably still-young age of 60 he specialised in investments, funds and insurance. Mum qualified as a teacher and spent most of her working life as a primary teacher, gaining qualifications as she went along within special needs. In Dad’s world you might go and work for a different company but changing the role you’re in beyond promotion is just plain weird. For him, my route is bewildering – how does one go from being a translator to then work as a personal assistant and then wind up working as a recovery support worker at a rehab? Makes no sense to him.
Because I’ve started as a volunteer and went into something completely new, I’ve held back a little on telling people – I wanted to find my feet a little before making any announcements or fielding questions.
“At a rehab? They didn’t take you in then?” he teases.
“Well, I guess you’re qualified,” he continues and although this conversation has ended up in the land of awkwardness I can hear the smile in his voice.
“You’re right. It could easily have been me but there we are, I got myself out as it happens and now I can use that to help others.”
Hm, perhaps a step too far. I’m not sure he likes it when I joke about it. Dad goes quiet for a moment, which is unusual for him. Mum has always said he has ADHD and how he’d be a fine example to demonstrate various hyperactive disorders. Seeing Dad still and/or quiet always freaks me out.
“Feels good to turn my experience to something good!” I go on as chirpily as I can to lighten the mood again, “And I think I’ll make something very good of this,” I add.
“Let’s hope so. You’re running out of jobs to try, you’ve bloody done them all!” Dad tells me and laughs in that way that I love when his eyes go squinty and his shoulders bounce.
Hats off to him. Not only is he of a generation that didn’t job-hop, he is also of a generation and upbringing where addiction is something that afflicts Bad People, those good-for-nothing twits who simply decide to throw their lives away. Yet here he is, being supportive and even making jokes with his only daughter, for whom he probably had so many hopes and dreams but who sank into alcoholism. Perhaps it’s his greatest sorrow? I know he’ll always love me, come what may, but I will never forget how addiction sends ripples and engulfs everyone in its path. I’d be very naive to for even a moment miss how much it has hurt him. And it’s not hard to imagine now that I’m a parent myself. The idea of Bambino following in my footsteps is a thought so painful it crushes my heart into a million shards of ice.
Today I’m not going to drink.