Father, dear father

It seems like only yesterday that my little hand was engulfed in his as he taught me to walk on my unsteady legs. If he had let me go then, I'm sure I would have fallen to the ground, never to stand properly again. But he didn't and now, many years later, I am able to walk unassisted.

Yet, I wish my hand was still holding his. I wish he was still by my side, ready to grasp me if I ever were near to falling, ready to lend a shoulder I could hold on to whenever I felt hesitant about making it on my own... But that can never be.

A lot is said about the importance of a mother to her child. So much so that the significance of the father is almost forgotten or left in the shadows. And, growing up without a mother, with only my father to look after me, I felt this was true - one needed a mother more than a father.

I then thought of my father only as the bread-earner of the family, nothing more. He was not one I could actually confide my problems in or talk to about my life. He cared for his children, that was true but whether he loved them as much as a mother would have, was a question that often arose in my immature head.

As the years passed, and the wheel of life turned, a wall came up between the two of us. A wall that kept apart our deepest feelings. Soon, it reached a stage where neither of us was able to talk to each other intimately. Oh, he would ask about my career and I, in turn, would enquire regarding the medicines he was taking.

That was all. That was the extent of the conversation we would have the infrequent times we met each other. He grew older and so did I. Only, I felt I was getting more mature as time passed and to me he had reached the stage in life where the wheel had stopped turning for him.

Yet, despite knowing this, I never dared to admit how much I cared for him. I did care. Even though four elephants could not have pulled these words out of my mouth, I loved him. But I never told him so. And that is what is killing me now. I wish I had told him just once how much I cared. It is too late now, so very late.

Tears coursed down my cheeks when his hand once again held mine in the last moments of his life. It did not engulf mine any longer - my hand was the same size as his. Still, I felt like I was a small boy again, just learning to walk for those one or two minutes. And I will never forget those few moments as long as I live.

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