“Is it another woman?”
He knew the question would eventually find its way into the conversation.
“Take this as you will, Joan, but I have taken up time with someone else. But quite honestly, I couldn’t say that she’s the reason. I’m not leaving one life for the allure of another. It’s not about the other side having greener grass.”
“However you choose to rationalize it, I think you’re being terribly selfish and you’re making a big mistake. Mom’s a good woman and she deserves better than this!” The visible signs of hurt had progressed to unabated anger. Without question, it was having a dramatic effect on her. But he wasn’t about to compromise his position.
“Joan, you’re at liberty to think whatever you’d like, but you’re in no position to tell me that what I’m doing is a mistake . . . and if it is, I’ll deal with the consequences. Now, I know you love your mother, and I can understand your pain, but you’ll just have to accept things as they are. I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry . . . about even coming here for dinner tonight. I’ve lost my appetite.” She removed the dinner napkin from her lap and tossed it on the table. She then picked up her purse and stood up from her seat. “I apologize for spoiling your dinner,” she said unsympathetically and stormed away from the table.
“Joan,” her father called out.
She kept walking. He trailed her to the entrance of the restaurant and out to the lobby.
She began to slow her stormy gait and finally stopped near the same spot at which she met him when she first stepped off the elevator. Joan stood quiet, peering out of the window at the night’s sky, her back to him. She was incensed.
He stood about three feet from her, wordless, allowing the anger to subside at least momentarily. She could see his reflection in the window. He broke the silence.
“Do you remember when you were a little girl and you found that swallow in the backyard of our house, its wing partly injured? Every time it went to take flight it would only plummet back down to another part of the yard. You tossed it in the air thinking it just needed a boost and back down it came. Only when you realized it had a broken wing did you begin to cry.”
The reminder brought on an instant recall. She was moved that he’d still remembered after so many years.
“You were so worried about it that you went and plucked the feathers from your mother’s favorite hat and attached them to the creature, hoping they would be all it needed,” he continued. “She had a fit about it when she found out.”
The story seemed to lift Joan’s spirits.
“I told you to have patience . . . in time it would grow back its feathers. But by then you’d grown so attached to it that you didn’t want to let it go.”
Silence set the tone once again, until Joan broke it.
“You said that if I let it go and it came back, it was meant for me to take care of it from then on. But if it didn’t come back, it had found a way to take care of itself . . . that God would look after it whenever it took flight,” she reminisced as her breathing became less labored. “I waited and waited for it to come home and it never did. But I knew it was in God’s hands . . . he would see to its safety.”
As much of a storyteller as he was, it was the very first time he’d ever brought up the story. Impeccable was his timing and delivery.
“Is that what you’ve done, daddy . . . grown a new pair of wings?”
He sensed the sarcasm in the question, but let it go without a reply, opting instead to let nonverbal communication make the statement.
Her eyes began to moisten uncontrollably. She tried to hold in the tears.
“Well, if it’s not this other woman as you say it isn’t, then why are you walking away?” she asked, turning away from the glass to look into his eyes. She was hardly prepared for his response.
“Your mother and I no longer enjoy the other’s company,” her father replied, the look on his face indicating he couldn’t put it any more succinctly.
Joan had no rebuttal.
He extended his arms to embrace her and then gently kissed her forehead.
“You’ll always be my baby girl. I love you dearly. Don’t ever forget it.” He began to walk back toward the restaurant.
With tears flowing down her face, Joan released the words that, above all the hurt and anger, expressed the sentiments that she would forever have for the man who’d had such a profound influence on her life.
“I love you, too, daddy.”
There simply were no sureties . . . .
Life, Love, Heartbreak . . . Romance. -Rg2
“Would You Mind Company the Rest of Your Life?” a novel by Rg2 © Roy Greer/Romance by Rg2®