Hallmark holidays are tricky when the feted person is absent. No matter how you dismiss the commercial appeals, when the mother, or father, or even the valentine is gone, ads for manufactured holidays deliver a specific punch. That goes double for real holidays or milestones.
It’s been 13 years since my father’s spirit clawed out of his degenerate body. The first few Father’s Days were hard. But time heals — or at least dulls — and now the happy remembrances far outnumber bouts of random crying.
This year, my father memories have converged around singing. After Ron Moody died, my sister wrote this: “Hearing clips on the radio today about Fagin from the movie Oliver makes me think about Daddy. When we were in London in the winter of 1971, I wore, all the time, a long green wool coat with the leather hat I’d purchased in London that I thought was so cool. Daddy would invariably tell me that I looked like Fagin and sing: “I’ve been reviewing the situation . . . You’ve got to pick a pocket or two!”
Daddy knew all the words to all the songs. And he loved to sing. Standing next to him in church was a place of honor as he belted in perfect pitch. I suspect singing hymns was his favorite part of church.
If singing could inflict torment, so much the better. The worst time was in 1975 at the McDonald’s where everyone from my high school went every day. Daddy and I approached the counter. The clerk asked for our order. And that’s when he broke out into his most robust baritone. “You deserve a break today!” He gestured towards the clerk who looked both amused and a little uncomfortable. I was wishing the ground would open up and swallow me whole. Daddy didn’t stop until he’d done the opera version of the entire commercial.
Today, I miss that booming beautiful voice.