Happy Father’s Day (yesterday)

I was going to post this last night, but I got (a) too tired, and (b) too upset, so I went to bed. Which was fair enough.

Keith Saunders with Gareth Saunders, at the BGHI felt quite at odds yesterday, and it was only in the afternoon as I was thinking about it that I began to pin-point that it had something to do with it being Father’s Day. And obviously my Dad is not alive now; he died in January 1998, after nearly 15 years of illness following three brain haemorrhages on the Ides of March 1983.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it also had something to do with the disappointing news we received the week after last about our non-progress on the IVF route. It’s taken a while to sink in, a while to process. It’s big news.

After all that effort, all that worry, all that pondering, and hoping, and praying we were finally placed on a waiting list. Our name was in the system. We just had to be patient little patients. And now we’re off the list thanks to the wonderful world of bureaucrazy (sic), and on another waiting list, waiting to go onto a waiting list. Like a real-life game of snakes and ladders.

And yesterday it finally hit me: what if I never become a father? I’m already a priestly, spiritual father according to some; “Fr Gareth” I was called in Inverness and in parts of Edinburgh. But what about a biological father? It’s all well and good believing in a wonderful God who performs miracles, I’ve been musing, but it would be pretty cool if we could have children to share that amazing God with. I will keep hoping.

And back to my own Dad, Keith John Saunders. After he died I wanted only one thing from his estate. I wanted a copy of his signature:

Signature reads K.J.Saunders

I have it blutaked to my monitor here at home. “K J Saunders” it reads. It was the most personal thing that I could think of. Something that he created, that somehow reflected something of who he was.

And one day as Mum and I were going through papers to bin I came across it and kept it. I can’t remember what it was from, some financial papers perhaps? I obviously didn’t have anything that he’d sent to me because he always signed things “Dad” and not his given name.

Saunders is a difficult name to sign well. I spent hours as a child working out how best to sign Gareth. That bit was easy. I became bold in my presentation of my name. Gareth is a solid name. “Strong spear” it means seemingly. Incidentally, I also spent much of my childhood trying to convince the kids at school that that didn’t mean big prick!

I came up with something like this:


But whenever I sign “Saunders” it always looks like an unfinished, squiggly afterthought: Gareth buwulalala.

Maybe that’s what I need to do to prepare for children: I need to concentrate on working out how to sign Saunders in a more convincing and bold manner. Then I can pass that signature on to my own children.

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

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