Fathers Day without the Father

by Paul Goodwin

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Growing up as an only child in the 80’s and 90’s you might think would have been very lonely. It wasn’t. Being around that time I had everything I ever needed, that was my Father. My Father to me was my big brother to me, my little brother, my guide, my support, my teacher, my legend, my number one, my hero. My Father was a great Father to look up to and aspire to be like. He was loving, hard working, selfless, passionate about family, a great husband to my Mother and everybody in the area knew him. Even if not by name, just by his friendly, generous and outgoing personality. He taught me many things about including how important it is to be kind, loving, hard working and many things about life and family. I promised him I would do this.


As being a typical Father’s boy, I never wanted for anything. We would do everything together and he would support me in anything and everything I wanted to do. Football, Swimming, Judo, and even attending my school plays when I dressed as an alien. Everything. When I turned 16 years old I went to work straight away in the Construction Industry. My Father was very proud and he bought me some tools to get me started. Life was great. Few years passed and despite what I thought was a perfect start to my adulthood, it came crashing down. I lost my hero, my Father. He was 50 years old. I didn't know what to do. My mum was a mess and was currently off work herself due to medical reasons. Anyways, I managed to get some strength from somewhere and I took charge of me and my Mother. A short while later I decided to move out and seek my dreams. With that, I got myself a flat, I went to college and got some extra qualifications and changed my career to hospitality. I worked very hard at this and with this commitment I got a dream job. I started working on cruise ships for one of the biggest companies in the world.


Now when I first joined this dream job, I never thought this would be the place that changed my life forever. However it would be. It was half way into my second contract and I saw the most beautiful woman I had set eyes on. Over the next few days, I asked my fellow colleagues about her. I liked what I was hearing so I waited till I saw her again and got some inner courage to ask her out for lunch. She took my number and we met a few days later and had lunch in port where we spent time getting to know one another. She was amazing. I had fallen. A few weeks had passed and my contract was coming to an end so I didn't want to lose her. I asked her to marry me, she said, ‘Yes’. We got married in our home port of the ship and got all the documentation together. I was the happiest man alive.


A few days after our marriage my wife asked me to come to our cabin as she needed to talk to me about something. I obliged and came a short while later. Anita was pregnant. Just as I thought I couldn't be more happier, I obviously could be. I was over the moon. So as expected, I finished my contract and I went home and started looking into my wife moving to the UK. Upon looking at information, it seemed relatively straightforward and was getting excited about the possibility of bringing my wife and unborn child home.


A few weeks after, I returned to the cruise ship to start another contract and be reunited with my wife. I went over the details with my wife and she was excited of the prospect of moving to the UK. My wifes final contract had ended and she returned home to start getting ready for her move. It was the start of summer and my wife arrived in the UK on a Visit Visa and moved into my Mother's house and to see what it would be like to live here in the UK. She loved it. Shortly after, I finished my contract early so I could be with my wife and start our lives together. I managed to get a new job straight away so we looked again into the paperwork for Anita’s right to live and work.


It was July 2012 and our nightmares had started. The UK government suddenly changed all the rules and we realised straight away this would affect us. So with that said, we looked for someone to help us and found a company and paid money to help us. All started well and we continued to complete paperwork as required. Later that year was the start of another new beginning. Our first son was born at the local hospital. We were over the moon. We took a few days to get settled and then continued the paperwork. It was around early December and we were growing a bit anxious as Anita’s current visa was soon to be expiring. We tried to make contact with the lawyer and with great sadness, we didn't hear from them.


A couple days after christmas, my wife and my baby boy returned on a long flight to Zambia. We were so distressed. Over the next few weeks I continued trying to find out where this lawyer was and did not prevail. My wife and I had a conversation and it seemed the only way forward was for me to return to the cruise industry to save some money and visit Zambia at the end of my contracts. I finished my first contract back in late 2013 and went to Zambia to visit my wife and son. I missed his first birthday. I was heartbroken. Throughout my visit I spent time catching up on what I missed out on. First steps, first words, so many things.


After a short while I returned back to work and did another contract. This time I missed out on Christmas. Upon returning after this contract my wife wanted to continue her education with which I said I supported. It was in Social Care. This would also aid her future UK Spouse application. Over the next few years, I would miss out more on birthdays, anniversaries, Christenings, special occasions and moments. Also over that time we were blessed to have twin boys also.


In the middle of 2018 my wife completed her studies so we decided that I would resign from the cruise lines and return to the UK to get things in place for them all. Just before my return to the UK, I visited Zambia to see my wife and children and witness the birth of our fourth son. So I returned to the UK in the search for a job reaching the Minimum Income Requirement. My town is only a medium sized town so to find this proved difficult. I eventually just took any job as my family needed me.


Late 2018, an agency phoned me asking to perhaps consider moving down south for a job which met the Minimum Income Requirement. I obviously took it. I moved into a colleague's house untilI I could find a suitable place of my own and suitable for my family. I soon realised that I was in a losing battle. The cost of living against what I was earning was not enough. It seemed like I was never going to find anything suitable. I carried on working at the place but also started searching for other jobs and more affordable places to live. I eventually found somewhere and felt like a light might be at the end of the tunnel.


A few months into the job I got a company to support our case to attain my wifes Spouse Visa etc. It is now a little over a year since we have been trying this time around and now thinking we maybe back to square one since the COViD-19 outbreak. I am currently on furlough and am very anxious that our case might be strong enough for my family and I to be reunited. Also if the business is financially strong enough to reopen.


So after countless moments, birthdays, Christamas’s, special occasions and much much more. Not to mention all the emotional, psychological and mental stress our boys are being put through for us not being all together. We don’t know when we will be reunited. I never thought when I made that promise all the years ago, I would be a Father without his children on Father's Day.