I only have two memories of my father because my parents were divorced when I was still very young. A friend of mine is adopted and it was crucial for him to find his biological parents, yet I don't even feel particularly curious about the father I have not seen since I was a toddler. Perhaps I would feel differently if I was motherless too. Oddly I am curious about the children from his next marriage.

In one of these memories he has taken me to a park and -- this is the reason I remember it -- I ride on a wooden horse and its head whacks my chin. Hot tears. Probably this was a post-divorce visitation before we moved away.

Here is the other memory:

I am standing on tiptoes on a boat looking back towards the riverbank. My father is smiling and waving. Water churns and the boat lurches; he moves further and further away from me. His newspaper is dislodged and falls into the river dancing this way and that on the eddies and currents. The reflections dazzle me.

I look up at the bank and my father has gone.

Why do I retain this, and so vividly? On the surface it doesn't seem to be exceptional in any way, something worth remembering. But after writing it, I realise that it is a metaphor for abandonment. That is the reason why this image was fixed in my young brain, as an emotional symbol.