This gay son's moving tribute to his father about when they lived in rural Ireland has Twitter in tears

Gerard Smith has lived in London but is now moving back to Ireland and he has taken the time to reflect on the special bond with his father while growing up as an effeminate boy interested in fashion in Cavan.

A father carrying his son on his shoulders. In this piece, a gay man reflects on his relationship with his dad when they lived in Cavan

On Saturday, Gerard took to Twitter to reflect on growing up in Cavan and the relationship he had with his father.

Gerard Smith graduated from National College of Art and Design Dublin (NCAD) with a degree in Visual Communication.

He moved to London, wherein he worked as a creative in various Healthcare Advertising Agencies.

Gerard said that he is “contentedly single; and looking forward to returning to Ireland, where I intend to focus on writing for a YA Audience on Apps: Inkit, Raddish and Wattpad.”

He has written fictional stories including ‘The Surgeon’ on Wattpad.

“I started writing that as a fictional blog, in which I wanted to explore gender themes. It quickly gathered a very vocal, Young Adult audience, and to date has a fan-base/readership of approaching 6 Million. I’m proud of the debate & discussions it’s generated amongst young people (globally), about gender & sexuality.”

Gerard is now moving back to Ireland and clearing through his flat, he felt reflective and took to Twitter to talk about the memories he shared with his father while growing up as an effeminate boy interested in fashion in Cavan.

 

The thread erupted on Twitter and he received waves of positive feedback with many saying they had been brought to tears after reading.

Shirley Temple Bar replied: “Beautiful sentiment, evocatively written and, damnit, you made my eyes watery and ruin my mascara”

Many thousands echoed her sentiments.

We have compiled the whole thread below (with Gerard’s permission), you can read it in full on Twitter here.

 

“I need to talk about my Dad, and finding Happiness”

After 30 years in London, I’m moving back to Ireland. Clearing through my flat, I’m feeling reflective and feel the urge to tweet about my Dad. I need to talk about my Dad, and finding Happiness.

Like many Irish youngsters of the 50s, Mum & Dad travelled to England to find work. Dad found work on the building sites, Mum found work as a Nurse. Then they found each other & married.

They had my brother & sister, and after almost a decade they had their baby – me. I wasn’t like my brother. He was fearless & football mad. I was fretful & football frightened me.

I was curly headed and often mistaken for a girl, “She’s a bonny one Sean, how old is she?” As I got older, this bothered me. But Dad always did his best to deflect and shield me from the misgendering.

At the age of 10 Mum & Dad decided to return to Cavan with me. My brother and sister remained, as they had jobs. I sobbed throughout the night on the boat, and more so on the bus to Cavan.

Cavan was a universe away from the Manchester Council estate I’d come from. There were no brown or black people, and I sounded different from the locals. Kids laughed at my accent, not in a cruel way, but I didn’t realise that, then.

I stopped talking, became mute, withdrawn, insular. Mum & Dad were busy re-establishing themselves; I suppose my hermitic state helped them do that. But they always kept a watchful eye on me.

I grew into an awkward teen, whilst Dad became a popular member of the community. His passions were: GAA, Soccer, Horse Racing, and every other sport on the spectrum. I hated sport, we had nothing with which to bond – yet we did.

Mum worked at nights as a barmaid, so Dad and I would bond over dinner duties, “Do you want to peel or mash, Dad?” “Ah sher, I’ll peel, you’ve done it the last two nights.” We ate together every night whilst watching Crossroads.

Mum worked late, and thus slept late. So Dad got me up for school and we always ate breakfast together to the sound of The Shipping News on the radio, “Will we have chops tonight, son?” The thought of those chops with Dad got me through the tedium of the school day.

My Cousin’s (Dad’s brother’s sons), were all rising up the ranks of Junior GAA. I wasn’t. I felt deeply ashamed for letting Dad down. I wanted him to feel the pride in me that his brother’s were feeling for their sons. But Dad wasn’t bothered, “Come on son, Crossroads on.”

Now, I had a secret hobby. I had this thing about designing and drawing wedding dresses. I would spend hours in my bedroom sketching the most intricate designs onto long limbed, exotic, big haired goddesses.

To this day, I don’t know how Dad found them. All I recall is the profound shock and shame I felt when I saw him walking into the living room with my sketch pad, him flicking through page after page of my shameful, sissy secret!

My face burned up as my burly builder Dad, my Irish GAA mad Dad looked at what his son was doing upstairs, whilst he was downstairs cheering on his team. I should have been sitting with him, not by myself sketching frocks!

Dad looked at me, I braced myself, “Did you draw these?” “Yes.” He flicked through the pages again, looked at me, “They’re fucking brilliant!” He looked again, “I didn’t know you could draw like this.” When he looked at me the 3rd time, I’m sure I saw pride in his eyes.

When I got into Dublin’s National College of Art & Design, I’d say my Dad was the proudest man in Ireland. I was the first in our family to enter into 3rd Level Ed. Mum & Dad toiled to ensure I graduated.

When I was 35, Mum died suddenly. Dad was bereft, “What am I going to do, son?” “Build a house Dad, your house.” And he did.

Dad died in September last year. He knew he was dying. I was in denial – we hadn’t been given a diagnosis for his illness, so I held onto tight delusional hope.

My last living moments with him were in the magnificent house he built, us both sitting silently looking out over the Cavan countryside. He was frail and speaking tired him, so his words, his voice were rare.

I was returning to London. When my taxi arrived I noticed Dad steel himself, getting ready to say something he’d rehearsed. At the door he inhaled, “Son, I hope you find happiness.” They were his last words to me.

And you know something; I don’t think he ever called me ‘Gerard’ I was always his ‘Son.’ I treasure that.

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