I've spent my life recalling the all-too-few-times I spent with my father.
The simplest things now seem momentous: Holding his hand as we wandered through flower gardens; marveling at how he knew the name of every flower; tucking me in bed; driving me home to London from boarding school late at night when I had a bad cough, concerned I wasn’t cared for properly.
He told me fairies lived in the palm of his hand and that “Daddy loves you because you’re a good girl.”
I adored him and was always eager to please and make him proud, certain of our special connection.
One day when I was 11, he handed me two silver coins from the safe (I have kept them since) and simply said, “Daddy is leaving now.”
The divorce was acrimonious and I was torn between my parents, not wanting to betray either one. This marred my weekly visits to Daddy’s tiny flat and the joy of seeing him. He took such delight in taking me to an old fashioned corner sweet shop, letting me choose the most wondrous candy boxes: striped ones with pom-poms and pictured ones with great, thick ribbons.
At 21, I decided to live in America. I dreaded telling him. One cold, windy night after going to the movies, I blurted out my plans. I remember the tears he struggled to hide as his brown overcoat flapped in the wind. “You can't leave me now!” he said. I knew in that moment how much he loved me.
From Miami, I kept in touch, sending cards and little notes on Father’s Day and all the other occasions. I married a man 26 years my senior and had a son.
Visiting England, I introduced my father to his new grandson. Daddy died soon thereafter, his ashes scattered in the snow in a park in Jerusalem, a place close to his heart.
He is so much a part of me, but I’m left with an unresolved longing for what might have been.
Ruth Freeman Aylward, Miami