A couple of months ago something changed in my life. My father passed away. And I have to admit I miss him like crazy.
Dad was a solitary man. He loved the sea. He spent most of his life at sea.
That's why he was never very close to his family. He wasn't around much during my childhood, and when he did finally come home I was 12 years old, he and my mother ended up divorced. For a long time I hated my father. I think it was one of those things when you are young, you harbour all those hatreds almost closer to your heart than your loves. It wasn't until my late 20's that I forgave him. He rang me out of the blue one day, I didn't even know he knew my phone number, and we chatted for an hour or so. And that started our real relationship.
We didn't really talk often, but when we did it was usually a phone marathon. I could talk to Dad just for a chat, he wasn't ringing me because he wanted anything from me, and I never rang him for any other reason than to say hi. That was one of the things I loved about our friendship.
He moved away not long after we had resumed our relationship, all the way to Tasmania. I always said I was coming to visit but in the end he came to visit us first, at my wedding.
I'd thought for a long time that I wouldn't have my father to give me away when I got married. To have him there to do that honour was the best thing I could have asked for, and just made my day so special.
Then of course we had to visit him, we had our honeymoon in Tasmania and a visit with Dad was a must.
Even though we weren't close, and you couldn't ever say he had anything to do with my upbringing, he still gave me a lot. There are things that are so similar between the two of us. I am like him in my contentment when I am alone, we both love animals. We both have very short tempers if we let them get away from us. I am so like my father it scares me at times, then at other times it just makes me smile, when I say or do something that just reminds me of him.
Mum says that she has compared photos of me and him at the same age, and that we look the spitting image of each other. I don't have any baby pics of myself, but I did dig up a very cute one of Dad amongst his photos. He was a cute kid!
Dad was born in Germany. He became an Australian citizen sometime in the 50's, and not long after married my mother.
It's strange, these are things that I have only just learnt about since he left us. He didn't talk about himself much, about his past he was pretty closed lipped. He did have a couple of stories that he told me, about some of his travels around the world. He used to like to tell me about Casablanca, he knew I loved the movie of the same name, he said it was one of the best places in the world. But no matter what he was talking about, it always came back to the sea, he loved the ocean and he loved his ships.
There are whole parts of his life that I will never know about. I will never know who most of the people are in his photos (and damn it he didn't write on the back of his photos, I will implore you now to write on the backs of all your photos, just in case), and I will never know about the houseboat that he is steering here. I'll never know about the other photos of ships, and oil rigs, or where in the world these streets covered in snow are, and why is that ship on the beach? I wish I had have said to him, 'hey Dad, got any photos to share?' I just never thought to ask. Someone (probably his mom) wrote on the back of that one baby photo "Klaus age 3 years" and even though it's in German, I know what that means. That's my Dad.
I also will never know the father he never knew. His father died young in the Second World War. Something I just recently learnt. I wonder how that was for him sometimes. But he did have a few things of his, including one photo which I'm convinced is him even though all the writing on the back is German.
I think he looks like him anyway. Looking through his photos has made a hungry to learn more about my heritage. I want to know about my family, but I don't know who to ask. It's too late to ask Dad.
I may not ever learn more, I might be able to find someone to tell me more, but I just might not be able to find the energy to do it. I may in the end be happy with the few photos I have left of him. And the memories of us together.
I think back now and I'm so grateful that I got to know him. He was never a father to me, but he was the closest friend I ever had. I knew he would never forget me, always be there for me, and always come to me if he needed me.
Dad used to read my Blog, the last time I saw him, he asked why I wasn't writing on it so much, he missed reading about my adventures. So Dad, this little post is for you. I hope you enjoyed looking at the photos. I just wanted to tell you that I miss you, I'm a little upset that you left me, but I hope that you have found that wonderful endless ocean to sail on, and the only time you go on land is to party in some wonderful Casablanca. I love you.