Son worried about his dad
WORRY is a familiar feeling for the son of missing Kalpowar man Christopher Prentice.
Michael Prentice is not only struggling to make sense of his dad’s disappearance more than a fortnight ago, but for years he has watched his father battle schizophrenia.
“My mind has been racing. I can’t sleep. I just lie there thinking about where he is,” Michael said.
“But (just before he disappeared) he was starting to stay up at night. That’s an indication he’s going to have another breakdown. He was getting religious delusions. I’ve been told to stay away when he’s like that.”
Michael said his father’s last breakdown was six months ago. He was sent to a psychiatric facility.
“But the thing about my dad is when he’s okay he’s a very nice man. You wouldn’t know he’s got a problem,” Michael said.
“He’s got a sense of humour. When he’s in hospital, he cheers everyone up. He wrote a song called It’s oh so Nice in the Nuthouse and sang it to everyone.”
Michael describes his dad as an artistic and kind man, who once won the Dolphin Award at the Byron Bay Blues Festival.
He paints beautiful pictures of natural landscapes, plays guitar and watches the footy with his son over a couple of beers.
Michael has travelled all over the country with his dad, living an unconventional sort of life.
“Dad once built two houses, and lugged all the timber on his back from the dump. But he had to leave them because they weren’t council approved. He was a bit like that, a bit of a hippie,” Michael said.
“He built a whole dam just with a shovel.”
But when schizophrenia reared its head, Michael said he would find it hard to connect with his dad.
“I can’t connect all the time. It’s stressful and worrying,” he said.
“It is hard to deal with when he has breakdowns.”
Even though it has been more than two weeks since Michael last saw his dad, he is still hopeful he will return home.
“First I would give him a big hug. Then I would call triple zero and then I would get really angry at him,” he said.
ARTISTIC MAN: Michael Prentice said it was never easy living with his dad's mental illness. But his dad Christopher was also artistic and kind, and he donated paintings he made like this one to hostpitals.