My father died in a slip-and-fall accident on July 15, 2017, at Mt. Ryokami in Chichibu County, Saitama Prefecture. At the beginning of that year, he was in the hospital to receive treatment and surgery for liver cancer.After leaving the hospital in March, my father was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, but he had gradually resumed working and continued his hobby of mountain climbing.
“Dad went out to the mountains yesterday morning and never came back.……”
It was a sunny morning when I received a phone call from my mother, and then it felt as if the ground was crumbling beneath my feet. After filing a missing person’s report at the police station near my parents’ house, my father-in- law gave me a ride to Mt. Ryokami. I was feeling hopeless. Before arriving at Mt. Ryokami, I received a call from the Ogano Police Station in Saitama Prefecture. They informed me that the body of someone matching my father’s description had been discovered at the bottom of the trail. It was a hot summer day, so his body was cremated as it was. My family didn’t get to see his face on his last day.
When the nightmarish day for our family was over, what came to my mind as I was not so much sadness over his death his but rather anger over why he had gone climbing despite his health condition so soon after the surgery. About a week after my father’s funeral, I remembered that I had family photos in a drawer of a cupboard in my parents’ house. The image of him in his mountaineering clothes and backpack, looking contented in nature as far as the eye could see, was different from the gentle father I knew at home.
I wondered why mountain climbing fascinated my father so much. Relying on his notes I started to purchase climbing gear, including clothing and food. I decided to climb the mountains he climbed.