When I recall my father I remember is eyes, the long almond shaped lids, their colour and clarity. His eyes were the darkest green, unnatural actually, animal like in their brilliance and sparkle. His hair was raven black, combed straight back from a high forehead. These attributes were his best features along with an attractive expression. He had youthful good looks and boyish charm which others found appealing.
“Never trust a man with a weak chin line,” my mother would later comment. I would have to agree, she would know.
There was a presence about my father when he entered a room. Aware that he possessed beguiling charm, he would captivate the crowd. To say he had presence was an understatement. My mother would sew her clothes from curtains and remnants, my father would have his suits hand measured and stitched by Modernize Tailors in Vancouver’s China Town. Some claim that a great suit can make a man and it certainly was my father’s motto.
“Roy dresses better than the President of the company,” my mother would comment.
My father had aspirations of becoming a President of a company and reputation was everything. He studied the look of success, choosing the basics of style for the era of the 1960’s and 70’s. Suits made from the deepest navy blue cloth, burnished browns, or charcoal slate were his choice of fabrics. He was slim and of regular height, the careful lines of tailoring made him look taller, the hand stitched jackets fitted to his strong frame, padded through the shoulders.
The pants were straight, pleated, and hung perfectly from his waist. It was my father’s shoes that I admired, his brogues. I would watch him as he slowly twisted the lid off the tin of shoe polish, gently pushing the soft cloth into the polish and applying it to the leather, the polish sliding across the top, back, and sides of the brogue. After a bit, he would take out a clean cloth and polish the shoes to a brilliant gleam. It became my job to polish and shine his shoes placing them on the mat beside the basement door.
In his closet hung wool fabrics for winter and lighter mixed blends for summer. Sometimes, I would enter his bedroom and open the closet door. The suits would be neatly lined up, colour blocked, hanging in wait from wooden hangers. The blends and the tweeds beckoned touch; there was a luxurious depth to them. The distinct scent of cigar drifted away from the clothing.
When my father began to vanish, he’d take items of clothing piece by piece as if they were evaporating. Was he trying to trick us into thinking that he was still present? Perhaps he was momentarily off course, his compass a suit in the cupboard, a direction finder for when he found his way back home. I would realize he had finally left when opening the cupboard, it would be empty, the biting scent of cigar, gone.