We took another of those walks tonight where the mobiles didn’t come along. The sun finally made an appearance and the air was warm, but the town was deserted. Sure, it’s the local holiday season and most people have migrated temporarily, but it showed how few people actually bother to visit this town as tourists. The local council have done their best to kill it and the patient lies on a mortuary slab, just waiting for a passer-by to identify it before it’s consigned permanently. Yes, that was Hobro, I feel like saying. As if anyone would trust an udlændig here though. They’ll want a Dansk second opinion to confirm it is Hobro. None of it bodes well for the sale of this house I was tricked into sinking my life savings into. It really doesn’t.
I realised during this walk that I was very unfair on my son in the last post, his running ability is still brilliant and I have definitive proof from my last few visits to Netto, where he now works – his ability to sprint to the back warehouse and hide the moment he sees me is excellent. I suppose I should be glad I help him get some exercise sometimes. Maybe that’s what #fakegrandad meant when he said I had to help from afar?
It was all so different 2 years ago, yet also kind of leading towards this. I just didn’t realise it back then. My mother, sister and nephew were coming to visit then too and I still hoped for happy times, when them and my children would get together for a couple of weeks. It was all I wanted at that time. I had been given a gift a previous Christmas – a book called Far Fortæller – in essence, Dad tells a story – blank pages with leading questions, in which I should relate my childhood and views on life. I spent two weeks of solid nights answering those questions as thoroughly and honestly as I could, filling every page with my handwriting. Some evenings my wrist hurt afterwards. I hoped that if my children could read that, they could not do anything else but give in and see their Dad as a real person and want to be with him again. It failed. I heard the book got intercepted as unsuitable reading for the children – apparently being honest about things like not believing in school or homework is unacceptable to modern childcare methods. My son told me later he’d read it and found it funny, which was something I suppose, but I knew from his responses it hadn’t made the inroads I hoped for, nor had the enclosed letter pleading with them to see their grandmother before it’s too late. I wonder if they even kept the book, or whether it’s now in the bin? I wish I could have it back.
When the visit time came, it was awful. Yes, my son came to stay most of the days and played happily with his cousin, despite what I had been told by the mother, that they’d be going on summer holiday then or that he wasn’t allowed to come, but it had an air of inevitability and superficiality about it. My sister and mother walked up to their house as a gesture of neutrality to pick up the two youngest children for the evening at my house. It felt more like little spies were invading, checking every room, monitoring my alcohol intake (it was one 330ml beer the entire evening, if you must know), making mental notes as per orders. Yes, there were glimpses, we played bingo, I called the numbers in English and Dansk and there was especially one moment where I said about going for an ice cream and the youngest excitedly put her hand up to say she’d be coming, then dropped it instantly as her elder sister glowered at her. The evening ended and I took them home. The moment I drove up and dropped them off, their faces went grey and tears appeared as their mother stood judgementally waiting at the door.
It hadn’t begun well anyway. My mother and sister had apparently waited at the bottom of the flight of stairs while my eldest daughter refused to come down and see them. I hope she doesn’t live to regret that some day. I certainly feel some sadness when I think of the extra times I could have seen my grandparents when I was young, yet chose to spend time on lesser activities instead. I know which I’d choose now if I could. It takes a special kind of child to do that to a grandmother she hadn’t seen for 3 years and whose grandfather had just died a few months before. It also takes a weak kind of mother to allow their child to do that. I have the misfortune to have known both.
The following evening I somehow managed to persuade them to come again. I wish I hadn’t bothered, it was one of the worst nights of my entire life. Sitting with 2 brainwashed little zombies who couldn’t wait to escape. If my mother and sister can’t get through to children, then no-one can and in this case even they were struggling. When I dropped them off again, I felt relief mixed with intense anger that they were gone and drove home. What the evening had done was make it clear that I was never going to win unless I tried something drastic, and so began my legal attempts to be part of my children’s lives again. Ultimately doomed to failure, of course. Just like the informal approaches and attempts I had made many times over the course of the previous year. Back then even I was fairly naive to the extent to which a foreign man is discriminated against here and how a vengeful, embittered ex can use the system so well that she has grew up with.
We also talked about the upcoming visit of my mother, sister and nephew – how it’ll be great to have family in the house and familiar people to talk to about everything and go places together. We have a nice trip overseas planned and plenty of other things to do besides.
I read an interesting statistic the other day that by the time you are 18, you have already used up 93% of the time you will ever spend with your parents. Thinking about that, the visit and this walk, through a soulless town with no sense of history or community any more, where we have no friends or family, it becomes clearer what should happen soon. We need to live somewhere where we can be happy and not have a massive pink panther-esque rain cloud permanently overhead. I should also try and make the most of the 7% that is left, while my children can rest easy knowing that they’ve probably used up 100% of 50% of theirs. It’ll be nice when that new life begins and the old is consigned to the dustbin of history, just how everyone has spent 3 years showing me they want it to be. I apologise for not listening to you earlier and trying to still be your Dad.