My father walked out on me and my mother when I was about three years old. She took me to the park to play and when we came back, he and all his things were gone. When she finally located him a week later, it turned out that he'd had an apartment of his own for some time.
She should've seen it coming: They'd been having difficulties and he'd offered/threatened to leave; he'd left two previous marriages when those daughters were three. But she was young (only 24) and naive. She soon wised up.
I don't remember spending a single Father's Day with Dad, who lived in Europe for some 15 years, or even sending him cards or presents. (I saved those for the stepfather who raised me from age 9.) I think I called him on Father's Day a few times in my late 20s and early 30s, especially after my son was born. He'd long since forgotten my birthday; his sixth wife handled all holidays and gift-giving.
The older I got, the less my father had to do with me. Still, he affected me deeply. When I was two, my mother took me to the doctor because my voice was raspy. She thought I had a bad sore throat; it turned out that I was trying to imitate him speaking. I miss his voice (always described as "gravelly") the most. Every odd now and then--in an elevator, on the street--I hear one almost like it, and my breath catches. I feel like a little kid again. Could Daddy be here? But then, with a sharp stab of disappointment, I remember that he's long gone.
I'll never again hear "Huh-LO Bella!" in Dad's peculiar resonant rumble. But there are echoes of him in an elderly cousin I met a couple of years ago--though with his Liverpool accent he sounds like Ringo doing an impression.
He may not be saying my name anymore, but at least my father's distinctive voice isn't stilled forever. It lives on in movies and radio recordings--such as "Leo and The Blonde" from 1947 (years before my birth), forwarded to me by the generous and multi-talented Rupert Holmes.
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