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the lion on my shoulder

i am the daughter of a Leo

By Benedetta Mancusi Published 9 months ago Updated 8 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - June 2023
19
the lion on my shoulder
Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

He is the only part of my life that I can’t allow to change, grow up. He is never wrong, and if he is wrong it’s only because of his Italian temper, the odd tangling of his blue barbed wired nervous system. Nothing to do with a lack of something. He can’t be less of what I think of him. He cannot be a disappointment. For a long time I could not accept that he might even have any flaws. I couldn’t bear that.

No, that fell upon me and my sister, I thought, and us only.

And I have been a disappointment. I often wish I could shed my skin and turn into the daughter he could be the right father for. He would call me silly and dramatic for saying that. Maybe I am.

Losing him wouldn’t be like losing a friend, or a lover. I have lost both, and it is painful, but I have been able to heal, and move on. Losing him would be something entirely different, like seeing a part of me that I have never quite met, and befriended, fade away. Becoming distant, different, or worse, indifferent.

This is why I won’t allow him to age. I won’t allow his hair to turn white. And He still carries my backpack. He still pinches my cheeks and the soft fat on my arms. He still says things that I don’t know, might not care about, but make me think how clever and big he is. He still talks about the land, our harsh and warm land - warmth and harshness coexist in all of us - that he loves more than anything, maybe more than me.

The house where I was born and my sister was forced to move into. She was too old to fully conquer it as her domain, too young not to try, stupidly, inefficiently.

He still curls up his nose to make me laugh. And I still believe that I will do what he does; provide, quietly, and protect. I still believe maybe one day I will become him. So he will live forever.

He's had surgery recently - "bloody hips" - and I have been thinking about him and our house, my childhood, my sister, my mother taking care of everyone but herself. And I can see him, my father, still hiding his pride when I brag about my good grades at school. He still wants me to always do better. He remains silent when we’re in the car and I am sitting in the front next to him, driving – centimeters become miles. I am thinking about Sunday roast and plotting to sneak out after midnight.

And he still wants to be loved but looks for love in the wrong places. That we have in common. He and I will never admit that we need love, as much as everyone else does, and as much as my mum does.

He is also the only one who never complains about the humid cold inside the house - our house that can’t retain any warmth - the wet leaves brought in by the wind, or the dogs. Inside and outside negotiating, melting into one space where we, the four of us, existed.

When I was still me. All of me. Safe. Untouched. Unscathed.

And because of all of that. Because I will never be able to change what I think of him, because I need him to be the same person, because his hair might turn white, but his silences and pauses will always be the same, because I still need him to carry my backpack – especially now that my back hurts all the time. Because of the way he would touch my eyelids to wish me goodnight, I think he’ll always have my love. Even if he doesn't know how to ask to be loved.

Even if he’ll never even know how much he is loved.

Fatherhood
19

About the Creator

Benedetta Mancusi

I am a freelance writer and editor, passionate about slow fashion, Italian cinema, the colour pink, David Bowie, London, poetry, subcultures, 'Demolition Lovers' by MCR, white beer and red wine.

https://benedettamancusi.wordpress.com/

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Comments (8)

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  • Kayleigh Fraser ✨7 months ago

    This was emotionally powerful to read. Bravely shared and well written 🩷

  • Jazzy 8 months ago

    Wow, this was so well done! Congrats on TS!

  • Resonant Storytelling ❤️💯🎉📝Congratulations on your Top Story❗

  • This was such a touching and lovely tribute to your dad! I loved it! Congratulations on your Top Story! I've subscribed to you!

  • Gerard Evans 8 months ago

    Great post

  • Babs Iverson8 months ago

    Wonderful tribute to your dad!!! Loving it!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Christina Hunter8 months ago

    Beautifully written. Well done. ❤️

  • Sandra Matos8 months ago

    This was very touching in its honesty. Thank you for sharing. Beautiful writing. Congratulations on your Top Story spot!!

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