The Return

I was young and would try just about anything, thought life owed me a chance no matter what. I never in my wildest dreams thought my life would ever change, my home was perfect in every way.  I missed my Dad very much but knew in my heart the day would come he would return to me and my Mom. I used to sit and listen as my mom would tell me of how her and Dad met, she was to young to date or her parents thought she was, so he used to park in front of the house and just wait for her to come out and say things to her like I love you girl and I'm going to marry you. She would just laugh and keep on walking thinking to herself, "I hope he hangs around and waits for me". He would follow her to the movies and throw popcorn on her to get her attention and then just smile and wink at her, and he always wore this hat, she said she always laughed at him because he would tip it at all the girls and they would giggle and turn away. She knew she was in love with this handsome man. And he did marry her and did all the things he said he would do, he always said she was his princess and he was going to make sure she always had the best.  They were so very much in love but then the fatal day came. 

We had noticed Dad was different and came home later and later each night from work. My Mom told him, "you're working to hard , please slow down". But my Dad insisted we would have all the things he never had, I didn't want for anything in my life, I had love from both my parents and all the friends a girl could want. The phone rang, as my Mom listened I saw the change in her face and then the tears in her eyes. "Yes, Yes , she said I understand, I'll be right there". When my Mom returned she sat me down and told me, my Dad had a nervous breakdown and in his mind he didn't even know who he was, he was in the hospital. They could not keep him here, he was to be sent to a special hospital. I thought my heart would break into, I had never been without my Dad.

I was only  8 years old then and now 6 years had past, my Dad could not have visitors and the hospital was so far away we could not go anyway. My Mom got a job and was trying to do her best to take care of me. In my mind I let it fade and just knew we would always be alone. I was good at making up stories in my head and living in a fantasy world all my own so the kids at school never knew. I was ashamed because I knew they would think my Dad was crazy so I let him also fade from my mind. Mom was so busy with working I was on my own a lot so I stayed with my friends more and more. One evening we decided to go ice skating on a pond near the house. Some of the kids wouldn't do it, they said it never gets hard enough to skate on, but me...I can do anything so off I go. 

As I sit in my room, I glanced out of the window and there he was, that same man that had been there night after night. I was really curious. It was kinda foggy but I can see what he has on. "Looks like a long tan coat and one of those big hats, I know this sounds like a Jack the Ripper movie or Sherlock Holmes, but my mind really can play tricks on me. I think "well" I am probably making a lot out of nothing but its strange he's there each night, same place. When he would see me looking out the window he would tip his hat and somehow that seemed so familiar to me but I couldn't figure out why.

 I wish Mom wouldn't work so late, its kinda scary, but its almost like he's watching over me, I am not afraid but more curious than anything. The light from the lamp post is shinning down on him, its almost like he doesn't mind being seen but yet stays a distance away, always returning just as it begins to get dark. Always leaving right before my Mom gets home from work.

I can't move from this chair, I hate this wheel chair,  I will never learn to use it right. It's hard to move around in this small apartment. I really need to call my Mom but the lines are out because of the storm and they haven't gotten them fixed yet. I remember the accident so clearly,  "Thin Ice"  didn't see it until it was too late and then all I remember is going through it and being so very cold, the others screaming and then the hospital and all the lights. I don't know how long I was out or what had happen for days. I remember going in and out, knowing and then not knowing. I saw my Mom 's face over me , praying and crying and then I remember  her talking to my Father like he was there, saying over and over again how much she needed him. 

I had visions of him being with me and me a small child. The doctors said I hit my head on the ice and then it broke, the ice and cold had effected my legs and my feet. They had almost lost me two or three times. I knew my Mom would be so upset, I  was told to stay home till she got home from work but I felt I was old enough to do as I pleased, she would never know, I would be home before she got home.  It never dawned on me how important I was to my Mother, I was all she had.  The doctor  said he didn't know how long it would take for me to regain the use of my legs, it was just a matter of time and prayer. I thought about my Dad quite a bit and wondered if he would ever come back to us.
 
My Dad had been released from the Hospital but he never came home, they didn't know where he was and we had no contact with him for over 2 years. Mom says he's coming home, she knows he will,  she always tells me what a wonderful man he is and what a wonderful Father he was, always taking care of us. Back to the window,  he's still there, sure wish Mom would hurry home. Seems like when she returns he leaves, like he knows the time she will return. For some reason I am not afraid, really its like I am protected. This time I will tell her about the man, she might not believe me, because I know I am bad for telling stories. I always like to watch her face when I tell her things I have made up during the day, well I have to do something, the days are very long when you are home alone for hours, so she just smiles.
 
"Katie, I'm home". It was my Mom, she always brought me something and always came in with a smile on her face. "How was your day Honey?" she asked " I'll have supper ready in just a minute".  "Mom" I replied, "I have to tell you something."  "Ok, honey, in just a  minute."  "No, Mom its real important". "All right Katie, just as soon as I get supper fixed and everything put away."  My Mom had to have everything in order and then we would talk every evening, she never knew what kind of tale I had for her, but she always acted excited and listened. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours about my Father and I would watch her lay her head back and just smile, I could see the love in her eyes.  I know she misses him too.

 I was thinking in my mind maybe the man is my daddy  and he wants to come home, maybe the stranger knows my father and wants to talk to us, all kinds of things going through my mind.  But I don't want to tell my Mom that.  As my Mom sits down, I am in front of her, I don't want her to be afraid for me but I think she needs to know. "Mom, there has been a man standing on the street each night before you come home from work and its like he's watching me, I'm not afraid but it is weird." "Katie, what does he look like"? So I described him to her the best I could, it was always a little dark. She said she would come home a little early and see who it was, my Mom has always been very protective over me, like there is no fear of anything where I am concerned. As the night past I could hear my Mom walking around and I knew she had been up most of the night. Well needless to say I was a little nervous all  day. 

I watched the clock very closely and as always there he was just as it started getting a little dark. Well as my Mom came around the corner and looked, he looked at her and tipped his hat, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, it was my Father, the smile on her face as she looked at him and placed her arms around his neck. It seems that my Father thought she would not want him back and would be ashamed of him for what he had gone through so he had left the hospital and gotten a job somewhere else. He had read in  the paper about my accident and knew he had to come and watch over me and perhaps get a  look at my Mom, he knew where she was working and all about us, he had saved up money from his new job and gotten a home for us and was just waiting for the right time. We told him all we talked about was him and how much we loved him and knew someday when it was right he would come home to us. I am now one of  the most happy girls there is, a family restored and I am regaining the use of my legs again and my Mom is so happy. Now we are a family again....

By Harriett Dash 2001      Home