I hadn’t been to my hometown for over twenty years. The day I turned seventeen, I told off my heartless father. That day, with nothing more than a backpack on my back and fear for my life in my heart, I walked out determined to never return. Now, here I stand on the sidewalk in front of the house my parents lived their entire married life in, wondering what I am going to do. I didn’t come back for my father’s funeral – I just couldn’t find it in my heart. The same can’t be said for my mother. That is where so many of my regrets come into play. I had left my number with the family lawyer in case anything happened and he needed to get hold of me.
Last week – well, three days ago, if we are being honest – he called me and said that my mother was in the hospital and not expected to last much longer. He also told me she wanted to see me, that she was asking for me. So, out of the last of the love I had for my family, I got on a plane and fly half-way around the world to be with her at the end. She and I talked a lot in the last few hours of her life. I learned things I would never have considered. Most of which involved my father.
According to her, in the last few years of his life, he had understood why he and I didn’t connect well. She informed me that close to the end; he had wished we could reconnect. I have to admit I felt bad telling her that even if I had known; he wanted to mend fences; I don’t think I would have been able to do it. She seemed to understand, but I know she was hurt. She also told me that before he passed away, he changed his will and left everything to me. That brought a tear to my eye, but it didn’t change all the bad that had come before. I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive him for the things he did while I lived in that house.
You see, when I was growing up, the man did things to me I told no one about, not even her. Since he had made me believe that no matter what I did or said, no one would ever believe me. So, I shouldn’t blame her for not knowing or not stopping it. But there is a part of me that still did.
As I stood there knowing I had to face the ghosts of my past who lived within the walls of the house in front of me. Yet, I don’t know how. How do I move forward with my life now that both of them are gone? No one ever told me, even though he was a monster, I would long after he was dead wish I could have one more day with him. One more day to ask the questions that now haunt me. Why did he hurt me? Why did he treat me the way he did? And most of all, did he ever love me at all?
Walking across the yard and up to the front porch, I could see the wear and tear on the house. The roof looked like it needs replaced; the shutters were hanging by their hinges, and the paint was pealing. It looked like my mother did little after my father passed away as far as upkeep went. I unlocked the door and went inside, not expecting much. The place had always seemed more like a resort hotel than a home to me. However, the inside of the house is as clean as it always was. I walk through the rooms looking at all the things my mother left in the house. Her trinkets, books, and interesting little bobbles sitting around on the shelves. I moved to my hold room, finding that it looks the same as it did the day I walked out of that house after the fight with my father. On my bed sits the only thing I had wished I had taken with me when I left, a brown teddy bear with a red and yellow bow tie. I stepped closer and sucked in my breath. There was a letter tucked under him.
I sat down on the end of the bed. Picking up the envelope from under the bear. My name was written in my father’s stiff handwriting. My hands were shaking as it slipped my finger under the lip of the envelope, opening it. Unfolding the single sheet of paper was one of the hardest things I have ever done. There was only one line of words written on it. “I know he was your favorite, and I’m sorry about everything. I love you, Dad.”
As I read the words, it felt like my heart was going to beat straight out of my chest. The simple words meant more than I ever thought they would. In that instant, I knew there were a few things in my life I would always regret. One of them being not trying to mend fences with a man who didn’t know how to be a good father. I sat there for a long time with tears silently falling before I could get up and move forward with taking over the house. I no longer wanted to cut the last of the ties between me and the only thing I had left of my parents.