Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
By Garnet Miller
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“His stroke was mild. He does have some numbness on the right side but his speech was not noticeably affected.”
The nurse touched her shoulder. “He will still be like you remember.”
The nurse removed her hand. “The doctor doesn’t believe your father should be left alone right now. He needs care—someone to monitor his diet and make sure he takes his medicine.”
“And I guess I’m it. How the worm has turned. But, it won’t matter much to him I’m sure.”
She sat down on the bench across from the hospital room. The nurse took a deep breath and sat beside her.
“It may be none of my business, but you seem to be carrying a heavy burden.”
“Is it that obvious? Look, I know you’re just doing your job.”
The nurse smiled. “Part of being a nurse is also being a good listener.”
Without looking at the nurse, the young woman spoke. “I was named after my father—Simone for Simon, you know. He was my sun and moon and I was his star. Then one day, he left.”
“It must have been hard for you.”
Simone squirmed in her seat. “I know people get divorced all the time, but he was my dad. He left and became the father to another woman’s children. It was like I didn’t exist anymore.”
“Do you pray?” the nurse asked.
Simone chuckled and then burst into tears. “I can’t even do that right. I am a Christian and I do pray. I know my attitude doesn’t show it right now. All I ever wanted was for him to say he was sorry for hurting me and my mother.”
“I don’t pretend to know how you feel, Simone, but I do know what God wants you to do. He wants you to let go of your anger.”
Simone walked back to the window. Her father still sat in the same spot. “I can’t live without that apology. Why won’t he say those words? I’m so angry I could spit!”
“You are right about one thing. You have stopped living. The anger inside of you has stopped any love from growing there.”
Simone faced the nurse for the first time. “That may be a good thing. I loved him and look where it got me—a broken home. I have a question for you: Why does God want me to just give up and let my father off the hook?”
The nurse pointed at the window. “Do you see that man in there? He isn’t off the hook. You are his first child and the only one who came to help him. But, both of you can get off that hook if you pray for the strength to forgive. If you want, I’ll help you.”
Simone wiped her face. “Can we go to the chapel or somewhere? I don’t know if I can do it at all, but not here.”
The two women didn’t utter a word until they reached the front pew of the hospital chapel.
“I don’t know what to do. Seeing him and knowing he won’t apologize is ripping everything good out of me. I want justice.”
The nurse held Simone’s hands tightly in hers. “God is offering justice through forgiveness. Let’s pray.”
Simone didn’t know how long she and the nurse had stayed in the chapel. When they returned to her father’s room, he sat in a wheelchair with a travel bag on his lap.
“He seems to be ready to go. I’ll give you a few minutes before we go downstairs.”
It was Simone’s turn to touch the nurse’s shoulder. “What’s your name?”
The nurse touched her chest. “Oh, I forgot my badge. My name is Karla.”
“Thank you for listening, Karla.”
Simone walked into her father’s room.
“Hi Daddy. I came to take you home.”
He grunted. “Your stepmother is gone, but I can take care of myself.”
“I’m going to stay with you, Daddy.”
“Why? I don’t have any money to leave you.”
Simone took a deep breath and stared into her father’s eyes. “Maybe we can start over just you and me. I love you, Daddy.”
Tears welled up in his eyes but he refused to let them fall. Slowly, he reached for his daughter’s hand.
“I’d like the chance to do that, Simone.”
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