Tuesday 10th September 2013.
The date that my Father died.
We had spoken two days before he fell silent. He had called me from New York – he was out there on a job. He is… was a travel photographer. Apt really as he always kept close counsel. He spent decades waiting quietly for the perfect shot – the right moment to capture something or someone beneath the facade. He rarely turned the camera on himself – said he didn’t like the idea of being faced with the truth. He was a loner. I often teased him about the miraculous nature of my conception. Thankfully there were no photos – not that he shared with me anyway.
On the day we spoke he was his usual uncommunicative self. He endured my numerous questions about travel, hotel, food, Broadway and shopping. I could sense when he shrugged – the gesture allowing him economy of words. He didn’t really know what to say – my excitement overwhelming. He never told me that he loved me. The fact that he called me when he was away and let me do all of the talking told me so much more than three little words – eight tiny letters, heavy with burden.
His ‘personal effects’ were returned to me long after his body had been flown back and buried. Like him, I left them to rest in a box. When I felt strong enough I searched for the memory card from his camera. I wanted to feel close to him to see the world from his perspective. The photographs were vibrant and New York felt an arms reach away. I searched every image for a reflection of my Father caught in a window or a lovingly polished side panel – cursing his professionalism I moved on to the next photo and then the next. Each time picturing him behind the camera.
The last image on the card was not taken in New York. After five minutes of research I discovered that it had been taken in San Francisco – it was the wrong coastline. I hadn’t known that he had been there recently – he hadn’t mentioned it. This felt like a message from beyond – my Father reminding me that I knew very little about him and assumed too much. That night I raised a toast to him and vowed that I would accept his challenge. I was convinced that somewhere in San Francisco my Father had left me a clue.