A skeleton with skin draped over his bones stands before me almost unrecognizable, except for his kind, blue eyes begging for someone to show him mercy. The tattered flannel shirt swallows his once muscular body. He has created his own personal Hell and his demons have forced everyone away. He has hurt too many people, but how do I say that to my father?
Words are not exchanged, but I open the door, and let him back into my life. He brings a peace offering, canned goods from the local food pantry, and places the plastic grocery bag on the counter. He is unable to look me in the eye, he knows I am pissed, and there is nothing he can say, so he slowly starts to place a dented can of peas and box of macaroni noodles on the shelf. My heart sinks to a place deeper than I even knew existed. As I watch, tears fill my eyes, and I have to turn away from him. Looking down, as I try to gain my composure, I notice a hole in the toe of his tennis shoe. They aren’t shoes that I ever remember him having; he always wore construction boots, and I wonder what happened to his boots.
I start to think of the little snippets of changes in his physical appearance. My dad has always been thin, so his weight loss was unnoticeable. It wasn’t even alarming when he was wearing insulated flannel shirts and jeans in the middle of the hot summer months. He was always cold. But, the most shocking change for me was when he started having his teeth pulled because he did not have dental insurance. His sunken in face aged him by at least fifteen years, and I had a hard time looking at my dad after that.
As the movie in my mind flickers back and forth between memories of my strong father and the broken figure in front of me, all I want is my dad to wrap his arms around me, and assure me that everything is going to be ok. I want to be that little girl again who knew that her daddy would always protect her.