Rachel sat at the round oak table in her breakfast nook, while the steam from her Earl Grey tea provided a small circumference of warmth. She felt cold and numbed by the message she had just listened to on her answering machine. The voice of her father long gone from her life had just arisen from the ashes of the past, and now he wanted to re-emerge like the prodigal son. His words resonated in her spirit “Rachel, this is your father. Please call me back at 201-446-3418. I want very much to see you.”
Hot tears stung her eyes as anger welled up inside her like a coming tsunami, she thought to herself, how dared he think that he could just show up after 20 years of silence.
She was thirty-eight years old, had two lovely children, Christopher, 10 and Naomi, 12 years old, a wonderful husband, Joshua, and a thriving marriage of fourteen years. They’d flourished without him in their lives and she was certain that his presence wasn’t necessary now.
She listened to her father’s voice while remembering in detail the last time that she had seen him. It had been the middle of August, she was eighteen then, and there had been a severe drought all summer, drying up vegetation and apparently her parent’s marriage as well. Her dad, with suitcase in hand, was wearing beige Dockers, a white shirt, red tie, navy blue sport’s coat and so much sorrow in his face that she could have drown in it. Mother had stood like granite, expressionless, as he drove away in his green Pontiac Grand Am.
It had surprised her though, that through the years there had been no word from him. Where had he been all those years? Why make contact now? She was replaying the message again when Joshua came into the kitchen. His face had a look of total amazement and query, “Was that your father? Ray, after all of these years, what a miracle.”
“Yeah, it’s him and he has some nerve to want to see me after his total disregard” her words were rapier honed, slicing the space between them.
He looked at her with a confused frown, “I would have thought that you might have been eager to fill in the blanks to your many questions. After all, he is your father. Ray, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to exercise your faith. You know God’s stand on forgiveness; you have to forgive him if you want to be forgiven.”
“Don’t preach to me Josh, I know what the Word says as well as you,” she glared at him as silence descended upon her like early morning dew.
“Suit yourself, but whatever you decide I’ll be here for you.”
After her family had all left, the sounds of silence had become louder and she knew she had to make a decision about the call from her father. She picked up the breakfast dishes and looked at the tiny pink roses that encircled each plate, it was as though she had never seen them before, even the ticking of the schoolhouse clock sounded different; she felt as if she were sleepwalking. Slumping into a kitchen chair she whispered, “Father God, help me. What if I can’t forgive?” A soft breeze caressed her cheek and a gentle calm settled upon her. She heard His recognized voice in her spirit saying, “I will, and you can.”
Rachel, with a trembling hand, lifted the receiver off the phones base; it felt heavier than she’d ever remembered. Tentatively she punched in the number that her father had left on the answering machine and after three rings she heard the familiar voice of her childhood saying, “Hello.”
“Dad, it’s Rachel,” she spit the words out like cotton balls, her tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth.
“Ray, I’m so glad you called. There’s so much I want to say to you. Do you think we could meet?” his voice was staccato and high-pitched.
Amazing herself, she responded, “Sure, dad. How about we meet at Starbucks in Central Park tomorrow?”
She arose to a cold, sleety February morning; its dreariness matched her mood. Rachel arrived thirty minutes early; sipping her coffee and recalling the wonderful years of her childhood, he had been a good dad. She saw him enter, gray-haired, bent over, and pushing a walker, his eyes scanned the room. She was startled by the compassion she felt. “Over here dad,” she said.
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