While many dads all over the country are looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day this weekend, for Murray, today will be yet another reminder of what he doesn’t have: time with his daughter. Murray’s daughter was about a year old when the relationship between him and his partner dissolved. They had had a good, happy relationship, but financial troubles and irreparable issues slowly eroded what once had been love. Murray came home one day to his things packed up in boxes, and he was asked to leave. He found shelter with his parents for some time but that wasn’t a long-term solution. Murray reached a low point and finally decided to move the Niagara Falls Men’s Shelter run by the YW.
“When I do see her, she is shy and timid, like you would be with a stranger.”
Since then, he has seen his daughter once. She is almost three now. He keeps toys for her in his tidy shelter unit, but he doubts that she will ever get to play with them. “When I do see her, she is shy and timid, like you would be with a stranger. She shouldn’t have that with her own father,” he says, angry, disappointed. Murray and his daughter’s mom turned their lives around when they found out they were having a child. “We got off the drugs; we got clean together – it woke me up. She was a blessing.”
Today, almost three years later, he feels like a babysitter who only gets to see his daughter on rare occasions. “She’s a good mom, and I realize I still have things in my life to clean up, but I just want to see my daughter. Even just for a couple of hours a week; that is all I am asking for.” Going through the court system is simply not an option for Murray at this point and by the time it will be, it might be too late. “A daughter or a son need their father as much as their mother.”
His biggest worry is that by not being around her, he can’t teach her the many things that he has learned.
Murray knows that he has made mistakes in his life. “I was young; I was stupid,” but he is doing everything he can to get back on his own two feet: he is trying to find secure housing, he is trying to find a job – and try is all he can do. The same goes for his daughter. He will not stop fighting for her and he won’t stop trying to be the dad his daughter’s mother needs him to be in order to let him see his child. His biggest worry is that by not being around her he can’t teach her the many things that he has learned. Murray is homeless. He has fought the excruciating battle that is substance addiction but here he is: 27 years old, sober and determined to get his life back. There are lessons he has to pass on, values that go beyond materialism, things he believes in, beliefs that have helped him to keep going and to never give up.
When he talks about the few memories that he has been able to share with her, a big smile washes over his face. “On my mom’s street, there is an owl that sits on a fence and as soon as we turn onto the street, she says to me: let’s go, see the owl, daddy! It’s moments like that, just getting to spend time with her, just hearing her say daddy, that are my favourite memories.”