Her eyes filled with tears as she joined the older man on the park bench. Reaching over, she took his hand, smiling at him. What a vast difference between the two. One barely 18, and the other, he had seen many years in his life. Smooth taut skin clinging to the old wrinkled hand. Who would think that the one person in life you needed the most is a 90-year-old man?
“Mary had a little lamb, I’ve been watching you for a while now. My little Mary, what a mess you’ve made!” his voice cracked with a little aged laughter.
It was the same laughter she remembered from when she fell off her bike. Back then though, a skinned knee was the most of her worries. A broken heart, well that was years away.
“I’m sorry, Papa. I know I’ve not done right, but, I’m so lost and this was the only way I could see you.”
Bowed head, the drops of salty tears landing in a puddle on her lap. She clung tighter to the old man, knowing she disappointed him. With billions of people in the world, he was the one person that she never wanted to disapprove of her. Anyone else, her mother, father, brother, even her ex-husband, none of them could ever affect her as her Papa had. She could never feel as disappointed in herself with them. He, this old man was the one person in life that she could never lose the love of.
A deep exhale, his hand gripped hers tighter, there was so much to life that he wanted her to know. She thought the world came to an end when she disappointed her family and lost her love, but those are only roadblocks. Life deals you a basket of lemons, don’t squeeze them all at once.
“My little Mary. You did what I taught you not to do. You ran from problems instead of standing up and punching them in the nuts.”
His laughter shook his body but never loosened the grip on her hand. He was gruff, direct, and always filling her head with real talk. Not sugar-coated kids stuff.
“Your father, now I loved him, was never a good man. He’s selfish, arrogant, and preyed on the name. When he was a boy we gave him everything and never made him work for it. Our fault, but the one thing he was taught was to respect women. I think the little fucker was dropped one too many times by the nanny. You won’t need to worry about him much longer though. I have it on good authority that he’s going to find himself baking in hell soon. He’s my son, but that’s going to be the only way to stop him.”
His words stunned her. Looking over at the elderly man, she was sure that she saw his face age a bit when he spoke of his son. No parent wants their child to be bad, let alone her grandfather. He’s a proud man and this all brought shame to their family.
“Mary, your mother, well that woman, she’s as dumb as the day is long. She stands there and closes her eyes to this. Her husband touching her daughter. She knew he was violent and could have stopped him. She is so self-absorbed that in her way, she is as sick as he is. One day she’s going to wake up and realize she will be sitting in hell right alongside him.”
For Mary, his words hit home. She knew all those years that her father did those things to her, it could have been stopped. Get up and check on your children. Open your eyes and stop thinking your daughter is trying to steal your husband. Didn’t she realize the day Mary ran away that she didn’t agree to his actions? A girl who wanted something wouldn’t run away from it.
“Now your brother, William. I am so proud. He is a fine young man and I see great things for him. He is a lot like you though. Wears his emotions on his sleeve. In the political business, you have to be harder than the rest. He’s going to change many things in this world one day. All this hurting yourself bullshit will make him stronger. He will champion many campaigns for the abuse of women. I’m proud of that boy and proud to call him my grandson.”
She sat, taking all this in. Knowing that William would be okay was her only concern. She did this for him. No, she would never want him to feel bad for her, but with her gone, he could go on without her staining his career.
“Let me talk to you about that boy. Mary Mary, my little lamb, it’s a broken heart, not a broken life. I know, he is your first love, but baby, he is only a man. You put far too many expectations on him. Bringing him into this family when you knew how your father was. What did you expect? Him to not stand up and try to protect you? Hard-headed. Child, you have been that way since birth, but you fought the wrong battle. He wanted to save the Princess from the fire breathing dragon and you took away his sword. You need to learn to understand one thing. A man, now a real man, not your father, he stands up for his family. You put his balls in your handbag and tried to force him to be less than a man. I understand that you did it because you’re scared, but let him fall. If he stands again, then so be it. You took all that away because you tried to wear pants. Stop it, dammit. Let a man be just that. A man.”
His words shook her to the core. Never had she seen things that way. It was always a selfish act for her, but when he explained what she had done, the world became crystal clear. She blamed him for something she had done.
“I never knew. I never realized what I did. Oh, Papa, I’m so sorry. I have protected myself for so many years that I didn’t know how to hand over the reins to someone else. I feel so bad right now for what I did. Thank you for explaining that to me. I only wanted to protect him.”
For hours the two sat sharing stories of the past. Their life, her future, and what life would be if she went back. Was she ready to rejoin the world? Not yet. For now, she didn’t want to see all those faces, plus the bright light ahead was so warm. She might want to bask in its glory and sleep forever in peace.