I was only young when my father died, and my mother barely spoke of him whilst I was growing up.
In the summer we would always play on the beach outside of our home, blocking each other’s imaginary sword attacks, pretending we were pirates fighting over the treasure beneath our burning feet. I remembered how he made me his number one priority, always giving me attention, doing the little things in life I appreciated. These are the moments which I thought I had the best father in the world, but here I am 10 years later wondering if I was wrong.For everyone who knew him my father was a historian, but to me, he was an adventurer. He would voyage out to unknown lands for months without returning home and would tell me every little detail of the epic battles and amazing land he would see.
I loved his stories, but I never hid the hate I had for these frequent trips. Squeezing my mother’s soft hand whilst watching my father jump into his squeaky land rover always ended in the same question. “Why do you have to go again?” “If I don’t go, son, what stories do I have to tell? If anyone talks about my life, the last thing I want is for them to say it was boring” Looking back I know realise that all his stories seemed very similar and connected, making them seem less exciting than what they were when I was young. He was always looking for the same mythical cave which he believed was on an island. His life’s work had been attempting to find it, he was obsessed.
Huge maps were sprawled all over the house, and many dusty old books filled the bookshelf. When he was home, I would sneak up to his office door with my legs crossed and just listen. The grunting, the sighs, and crumpling of paper would seep through the door.
I was forbidden to go inside my father’s office, however, my imagination would flood my mind with images of what I thought was inside. Whenever he would get a little closer to finding the island he would fling the door open and pick me up, spinning in excitement. His huge smile would stretch across his face that night at dinner, and the whole house would be flowing of happiness. These moments occurred less and less as time went on, though he still made time for our beach adventures.Then all of a sudden, he forgot. I remember feeling the child in me fade away, but I remember more my father fading from my life.
His voyages grew from a few months to around half a year, and his time at home went from around a month to a week. It felt like he was gone for eternity when he left, and when he was home he locked himself in his study, consumed by his work. He became selfish and cruel, obsessed with finding this island before it became too late, taking his frustration out on me.
My mother promised me he would get better again. “Once he finishes his work he’ll be back to normal honey” But I knew he would never go back to being the father I idolised. The explorer which I dreamed about, now a tired old man who couldn’t keep his head out of maps and old books. One day in the middle of summer he packed his leather briefcase and just left. He said goodbye like he usually did, but this time was different. To this day I wish I knew it was going to be the last time I saw my father.
They never found the boat that he sailed away on that day, so everyone including my mother believes he was lost out at sea. I now sit in the sand which my father and I once played on, when he cared about me that is, wondering what really happened to him. Even after how he treated me and my mother towards the end of his life, all I hope is that he made it to the island, found the cave, and succeeded in finding the only thing he ended up caring about in his life.