I was born while still
the world had a few uncharted
pieces, parts less known
except as shadows, by a name,
by a history of polar expeditions
by its ice, its rocks
by being far away:
my father left;
me, my mother to explore
the arctic summer
to chart the glaciers,
gravel, sand, morain
to explore and afterward
when growing up
he sometimes would tell
stories from his expedition
summer, about the time
the airplane turned upside down
in a brutal summer gale
of the wildlife musk ox
and the wolf cub they had fed,
how he kept a picture of his son
and always afterward.
on his wrist, a piece of adventure
an expedition watch.
My mother though
said nothing much had happened
to a mother and her only son
left back home to explore
the world of being mother, wife alone,
the first year of my life
Today Merril hosts at dVerse and she asks her to use an artifact of some kind and relate back to history. My choice is my father’s old expedition clock… At least it has a story but it doesn’t work.
December 7, 2021
It sounds as though your father had an interesting job, but perhaps it wasn’t so easy on you and your mother!
It must’ve been a trying time for your mother. Was she a new mother, or did you have older siblings?
I was the first child and less than half a year old.. my parents had also moved to a new town and I do not think my mother had any friends there…
I feel for her. I hope she found ways to cope.
Part of the summer was spent with relatives away from the lonely home.
Any amount of respite was probably welcome for her. And Swedish summers are quite special.
What a wonderful watch–full of stories! Thank you for sharing. But it sounds like your mother was so very lonely. It’s especially hard–that isolation with your first child.
Very cool write, Bjorn. You’re lucky you’ve got a scrap. I’ve nothing fatherly-related but unpleasant memories. Thanks for sharing.
One family, but oh how different each of the members of it perceived it. I just googled Axel Heiberg. Your dad must have been a very adventurous individual to partake of that place. Did he ever take you on adventures like that when you were older?
Not that far away… but he always worked and brought the family along to the northern part of Sweden
You had the kind of father you can appreciate now. When you were small you must have wished he was like everybody else’s.
You capture so vividly the early sense you had as a boy of your adventurous father while it was left to you and your mother to be on your own, the absence and the presence of the man who wore the watch.
True story, I assume. Getting pretty far north there, great adventures.
A precious artifact indeed. What an adventurer your father was!
That was absolutely fascinating, an adventure of a poem and wonderful memento…
I loved the fascinating story you traced from that photo you found. I have read about someone copying thrown away photos of anonymous people which means we are left to guess the story.
Luv the contrasts. Very interesting
Incredible tale, and it gets extra kudos for being true. Odd your father never went back out on other polar adventures after that; or maybe he did, and that’s another story.
He went many times. but only twice to this type of arranged expeditions. The second time was 20 years later…
Oh, the contrast between the story-telling adventurer and the one left at home. To invoke your first year as a final line in to this dual-natured piece was really skillful, Bjorn. Just marvelous stuff.
the world had a few uncharted
It is sad mothers see nothing much happening. Oh how much we miss! Nice you have that watch!
Thanks for sharing this personal story. The watch is an amazing piece to have. It’s sad that you mother had to go it alone during that first year.
marriage is always about sacrifices. your dad wandered and your mother stayed and both lived their own stories. poignant, Bjorn.
Wow. That’s an amazing story, Björn. What was your father’s profession?
He was a professor in geography/geology so this was a scientific expedition.
I love the picture of that watch and the story behind it. What a treasure!
Many young men grow up with fathers in absentia. Yours has an interesting story, Bjorn, written quite differently from two vary divergent points of view, no doubt. Your father would write it as exciting and adventurous, your mother as endless dreary waiting. Thanks for sharing.
It must have been an adventure for my mother as well… a first child in a new city…
My father was a scholar who traveled on research trips; he was gone for nearly six years of my life before I was 14. It’s lovely that you have an artifact of your father’s time away.
six years is a lot of time away… my father travelled a lot, but this was one of his more exotic travels… but he went to India, Africa, Saudi Arabia etc..
What a challenge for a new mother and wife. Love the way you tell the exploration story without forgetting her.
A fascinating story well told. So much of our own personal history is bound up in objects like this, that we relive merely by looking at them. I wonder which was the more difficult adventure, his or your mother’s. Especially liked the opening lines.
The depth of our memory is amazing. We remember what we felt at that time, rather than what happened.
Well done, Bjorn. I enjoyed the story aspect of this narrative.
I can to some extent understand how your mother felt then. My husband is a sailor and I had to often stay on for months with my young kids without him.
Very masterful, personal write.
I really felt drawn by the levels of exploration, birth, first year, solo mother and wife, so many explorations, meaty.