She had a miserable father. When God said honor thy father and mother, she could only do 50%.
Roselynn knew her Dad for eight brief years. She said goodbye to her Dad one morning before she left for school, and after school when she returned, he was gone. Her Mom told her she wouldn’t be seeing her Dad anymore. They were getting a divorce and that was that.
There was no big scene, no goodbyes – not even a note. Roselynn was left to her own imagination to piece together a story. Her Mom would have no part of any discussion.
“Better off without him.” Was all she had to say.
Eight years passed and Roselynn thought about her Dad every day. She learned to live without him but she never learned how to stop the pain in her heart. She prayed and asked God for answers, but apparently God didn’t have much to say about it either.
Roselynn turned sweet sixteen and she was looking for love. This was the time of emerging technology. With the tap of a keyboard and a row of computers lined up in the library, she searched for her father.
She found him on Facebook: Joe James, the very same Daddy she remembered as a child. She cried when she saw all the events of his life that she was not a part of. She got angry when she saw her three half-siblings smiling for the camera with their Daddy, her Daddy! New family for Joe, new wounds for Roselynn.
She became a voyeur. She watched her father through the glass screen of a plastic computer. She learned about his favorite foods, the type of music he listened to, even what kind of car he drove.
She was captivated by the family. He had a wife, and children. His daughter looked to be about her age. She studied the group homecoming picture where Shelley and her Dad poses for the camera.
It broke her heart.
She handled it stoically on the exterior but inside she was a mess. Roselynn reached deep in her soul and prayed for guidance. Her heart wanted reconciliation. Her mind demanded an explanation. God answered her with a very simple and familiar refrain. “Honor your father.”
She sent a message to Joe. He replied immediately.
“Hey baby. Guess you’ve got some questions for me. I’m living in Philly now. You’ve got two more brothers, a sister and a step-momma.”
He included his phone number.
Roselynn is a sensible girl. She’s a planner. She carefully prepared some talking points, rehearsed possible scenarios and taped a print-out of the 5th commandment over the desk in her bedroom.
In all her preparations she was both optimistic and cautious. With grand hope and realistic expectations, she made the call. 2-6-7-2-1-2-3-1-2-2
She spoke her name. She carefully and slowly left her phone number. “I can’t wait to talk to you Daddy” she said.
No call came. She called again a week later, a week after that, and a final fourth call. It had been a month since he last replied to her message. She was devastated.
She told her Mom what happened. Her Mother hugged her and the two of them cried together.
“Rosie, he’s no good. Move on.”
Roselynn made up her mind to forgive and forget him. She was 50% able to do it. Forgiving was easy for a young woman of faith. Forgetting was another matter entirely.
She remembered him as her Daddy when she was a little girl. She remembered all the emotions of her recent brief re-connection.
Roselynn is a grown woman now. One with “daddy issues.” It is hard for her to trust men. She is afraid of rejection. She thinks of herself as unattractive, and not deserving.
She is in New York City when she runs in to her father. She often dreamt of this moment in the years since their last contact. The thoughts and prayers did little to prepare her for what was happening right now.
She is in a Starbucks picking up an iced latte. She’s never been to this Starbucks before. Its summer and it’s hot out.
She hears a voice behind her and it sounds familiar. Her belly feels it first. Recognition. The man ordering a dark roast is her father. She turns around and sees him. Twenty years older, graying hair and an old man’s paunch. He’s not aging well she thought.
“Dad.” She says.
“Roselynn? Honey is it really you?”
“I’m an asshole.”
“Can we talk?” He says it quietly, almost reverently.
They find a table near the window tucked in a corner.
The next two hours are spent in communion.
His story is nothing dramatic. A weak man with good intentions and no follow through. Bullied by the women in his life and clawing his way through each day to protect himself from hurt, hurting the people he loves.
Roselynn understands. She knows she can’t change him, but she can change herself.
Closure is just as important to Roselynn as a relationship would be if it were possible. It’s not.
They say goodbye with a hug and a kiss. Her father’s parting words are,
“I love you.”
She knows it’s true and it’s enough to rock her world.
Roselynn honors her father by rising above her insecurities. By purging her former self-image. By thanking God for giving her an imperfect father who loves her.