It sounds strange, but tonight was the first night I realised my father was just a man. Tonight he stopped being my father, my Dad, my tutor of 19 long years, and became just another man, with the same problems, the same worries and the same feelings as me. He's an accountant, a job he admits was a bad decision.

It's been another long night, I've been sitting at my computer for hours, long after my family and our guests have gone to bed, wandering the labyrinthine corridors of E2. About half 3 the kitchen door opens (strange place to have your computer, the kitchen, i know but hey, that's where most of the action in this house happens!), and my father came in wearing his pyjamas and big woolly jumper, his hair all ruffled, wiry and starting to grey, and a tired look on his face.

All my life he has been there as The Provider, the patriarchal role, feeding us all, paying for our education, helping us along with our first tentative moves out of home, but it wasn't until tonight, when he told me how he stays up all night agonising over the deadlines he's already missed, how he has to force himself into his work every day because it's so monotonous and how every day his workload grows and he can barely cope, that I realised that all the money I've taken for granted all my life has come with an enormous pricetag on it, this man's sweat. All my childhood we'd laugh because my father always fell asleep in front of the telly, I didn't know this was because he got up at five every morning to break his back so that he could afford to give us a chance in life, something i have almost squandered.

I've always known my father was a fighter, but tonight I saw how close he is to losing that fight. As he was going off to his study to work, at half three in the morning, he said "Don't let yourself become like this." This is the man who has always been the pillar of my life. But tonight I realised that all he is is just another man, struggling through life bearing burdens, dealing with his mistakes.

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