Dear college parents,

“Absent fathers though we may have been.” That is the message I received from (one of) you in eighth week of Michaelmas. I must confess, dear father, that I was somewhat confused – you hadn’t been absent from my life! Far from it, in fact.

Our initial family meal was a cordial affair at the Jericho Tavern. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the generosity you both showed in footing the bill for my two siblings and I. True to parental obligations, you ensured the meals we ate met our dietary requirements, not passing judgement on my fleeting vegetarian phase.

Like the curious children we were, we asked of your initial meetings, what the wedding was like, who attended. Still in love (and not having passed the honeymoon stage), you told us everything, smiling brightly as if to show the whole pub how clearly besotted you were with one another.

Knowing that I was the child of such a loving marriage provided me with the con dence that college life would be just fine. This confidence was certainly not misplaced. I still have a photo of the two of us from freshers’ week. Lost in Bridge, you found me, bought me a drink, smiled for a photo, and ensured that I found the rest of the freshers, before making your way. You didn’t pass judgement or complain, but remained patient, assuring me that everything would be alright. You were my guide amongst a sea full of sharks, and I was grateful for that.

But your generosity didn’t stop there. Three bops in, and you showered me within a dozen ‘free bop juice’ tokens. How these came into your possession I don’t know, but if childhood taught me anything, it was to not ask too many questions. Happily, I consumed drink after drink, safe in the knowledge that my wallet wouldn’t be in too much pain the next morning. In that moment, you showed me what a caring parent you were – I’d flown the nest, but you were still concerned enough to ensure I stayed hydrated.

When it came to work, you were there for me too. Admittedly, your drunken 3am promises to send me notes haven’t (yet) been met. But when I message you for help, despite the fact that you’re living out and have a life of your own to lead, you still manage to find time for me, to explain the answer to the problem that is causing me so much stress.

I haven’t seen you of late, but I understand the busy lives you lead, and whenever I see you in college, you always seem happy to see me. I guess I’m lucky – at least you acknowledge my existence, which is more than can be said for most. You may think you’ve done a poor job, or been absent fathers on the whole, but when I’ve needed you, you’ve been there – and it’s those memories I will hold onto.

Love, Daanial x