My Dad Was No Bully

Dad died in 1987 aged 64 years. I am now 70 years old. I still miss him.

Now imagine this – imagine for a moment he wrote me from Heaven and the letter arrived in the mail today. In it he wrote:

Stephen, I miss you too. Even when I was dying, I failed to tell you I love you. I am sorry. I also failed to tell you I am proud of all your achievements. If I remember correctly, I did tell you I was proud of what you did working undercover on Operation Julie. Yes, I did, because I recall saying that despite my 30-years police experience I could never have done what you did.

Since I died, you have gone on to achieve even more. Fourteen years as a barrister or trial attorney as our American friends call them. Then, not satisfied with that, you went on to write a bestselling book about your undercover police days on Operation Julie. I always thought you had it in you to be a good writer. Keep it up!

The real reason I wrote you this letter though is to express my appreciation of what you did about that Amazon review. You know, the one where the reviewer called me a bully. He based it on what you wrote in your book. I know he misunderstood and anyways you soon corrected him and he agreed to withdraw the comment. Bravo!

You know, and I know, I was never a bully. In fact, I detest bullies. The incident you wrote about in your book was accurate. You were aged about 10 at the time when the group of local bullies tried to goad you into fighting with them just because I was a police officer. You were right to ignore my exhortation to thump one of them. They were all nasty pieces of work and who knows – you may have been badly hurt. You had that intuition even then to know when to show strength and when to fade into the background. I admired that but failed to tell you.

We lived in a tough neighbourhood of a tough city – Liverpool, England. I wasn’t encouraging you to be violent. I was simply trying to show you that sometimes you need to “stick up for yourself” in life. Perhaps I went the wrong way about it. Anyways, you learned how to fend for yourself in those types of situations without my help. That’s it really. We can have a longer chat one day but there’s no rush. I know you are happy and enjoying life to the full. Your mother is pleased about that. She still worries over you.

I replied: Dad, thank you so much for the letter. I always knew you were no bully. I got mad when that reviewer wrote that on Amazon and I was pleased when he agreed to retract it. I always knew you loved me even if you never said it when you were here with us. I was proud of you too and I thank you for all you taught me about life and people. Thank you for teaching me humility, respect for all people and for passing on your love of reading to me. You showed me by example and not through talk. That was good enough for me.

Please send Mum my love and tell her not to worry. Before I sign off, I now know and appreciate how much you loved not only me and my siblings, but also the immense respect and love you had for my mother. You were immense as a man and a father.

Stephen Bentley is from the UK now living in the Philippines and the author of the bestselling memoir 'Undercover: Operation Julie - The Inside Story.​

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