“Mommy, where are nana and papa?”
It took me by surprise when she asked, I replied, “Well papa lives back where I grew up when I was your age. But nana lives right next door to God up in heaven.”
“Why is nana up there?”
“Well she got really sick, and God decided to call her home and bring her peace.”
“Why don’t we ever see papa?”
I took a deep breath before looking at her and smiling, “Sweetie I think it’s time for dinner, go wash your hands.”
Later that night I thought back to when I graduated high school. Even though I was first in my class, it didn’t matter because my dad missed graduation. I didn’t have anyone there for me, usually people have a small crowd that scream their name, but I didn’t. My mom couldn’t be there for me either because she died when I was 6. She had stage 4 breast cancer that had spread everywhere. She had to quit her job because she was so sick, and daddy couldn’t pay for her medical bills. She came home from the hospital and decided it was time for her to go home to God. She kissed me extra long that night and told me not to be afraid. I was sad for a long time, I talked to God about it a lot, but it was a pretty one-sided conversation.
I graduated med school and became a surgeon. Later that year I got married and had two beautiful kids around the age of 27. My husband’s name is Connor, and my kids’ names are Everleigh, 7, and Alexander, 10. They have never seen their Grandpa or Grandma.
Connor and I stayed up late that night cleaning the house and talking. As I was brushing my teeth, he came over to me and kissed me on the forehead. He leaned against the doorway folding his arms across his chest and began to say, “Ya know you won’t be able to dodge the questions forever. Alex started asking me about your dad too. They can’t grow up without a grandpa.”
I spit out my toothpaste before replying, “My dad has forgotten about me, it’s been too long and he is probably drowning in a bottle of whiskey right now.”
“You won’t know for sure unless you call.”
Days went by and the thought of giving him a call kept creeping up on me at random times. I finished a long surgery that went pretty poorly and I saw my mom. She said to me, “He hasn’t forgotten you, he could never forget a beautiful woman as strong as you. Don’t be afraid of what happened in the past, move forward and love him even more.” Her ghost left me after she stopped talking. I began to cry as I sat there holding my scrub cap against my head. I picked up my phone and called him. He didn’t pick up until the last ring.
“Hello, this is Garrett speaking. Who’s this?” His voice was clear as day.
I gathered the courage to tell him, “It’s me, your baby girl. I saw mom and she told me to say hi.”
“Alexis, I don’t know what to say, it has been way too long.”
“Yeah it has dad, you sound really good.”
“Maybe we should catch up some time, you could come home and spend the night or something.”
I got a little bit frantic when he said that, but I knew it was time for another chance. “Sure dad.”
Going over to his house felt weird, he answered the door with a smile. The smell of liquor didn’t seep through his pores anymore. When we hugged I got a glimpse of the house and it was clean. The rugged, tattered living room was now clean and polished. We sat down and drank some coffee while catching up.
“Why did it take so long for you to get cleaned up?” I asked him abruptly.
“Your mom came to me in a dream. I got to sit with her and talk about where we both went wrong. She told me that you had kids and you were the best thing that could have ever come out of this relationship. She told me that she could have fought harder to live, but she didn’t. She told me that I was going to die soon if I didn’t get my life together. She was right. My liver failed later that night. I woke up with sharp pains and called the ambulance, I was rushed to surgery and stayed in the hospital for a week. God came to me and told me that he has forgiven me for my wrong doings.”
We continued talking for a couple more hours and when I left he told me this, “I loved you my entire life and I know it doesn’t seem like I did, but I just showed it in a different way. I want to be back in your life and I know that I don’t deserve to be, but I want to.”
“Well you have grandkids now so you have to be good for them, give them the life that I never got.” I made sure that he knew he could always come over. Later that night I called him when I got home, the kids wanted to talk to him and he did. They talked for 30 minutes before I called them to bed.
15 years passed by and my dad died. He lived a long life, probably longer than most with a drinking problem. He loved my kids with all his heart, and filled their life with so much joy and laughter. At his funeral I began crying and Everleigh held my hand and told me, “Everything is going to be okay mommy, God called him home and brought him to a peaceful life up in heaven. He’s probably living with nana next door to God.”