A man is stunned to discover that the little blind girl he rescued was his father’s child from a second marriage to a woman he hated for breaking up his family.
Adam looked down at the little girl’s delicate face turned up to his trustingly, the tiny hand in his, and felt a wave of hate that threatened to overcome him. “Your dad is the man with the dog?” he snarled. “THAT’S your father?”
“Yes,” the girl smiled. “I can’t see much at all, and Fluffy is my seeing-eye dog…”
Adam abruptly dropped the girl’s hand and shoved her roughly towards the anxious-looking couple standing on the train platform. “Go to him!” he screamed and gave her another push that forced the child to stumble towards the father he hadn’t seen in over ten years.
Adam Mitchell’s unreasoning hate for this child had started before she was born when he was just 14 years old. He’d been lying upstairs in his bed trembling, listening to his parents screaming at each other.
His mother shouted: “How do you know it’s even your child?” His father’s answer was muffled, but his mother’s reply was loud and clear. “You don’t care? You disgust me!
“You’re leaving your only son and me for some round-heeled piece of trash because she tells you she’s pregnant?”
Talk to your children, even if you think they are too young to understand
Adam heard smashing crockery as his mother started throwing plates around and pulled his pillow over his ears. He was used to the sounds of their arguments, but talking about another woman was new.
Adam’s door opened a few minutes later, and his dad walked in. “Son?” he asked. “Are you awake?”
Adam sat up. “Yes,” he said sullenly. “No one can sleep with you two yelling at each other like that!”
“I know,” Adam’s dad said quietly. “That’s why I’m leaving, Adam. Your mother and I can’t live together anymore.”
“Liar!” screamed Adam. “I HEARD you! You have some woman, and she’s pregnant; that’s why you’re leaving us!”
“I’m not leaving you, Adam,” his father said. “I’m leaving your mother. Chloe has nothing to do with that…”
“Chloe? Is that your girlfriend’s name?” asked Adam. “Who is she? Some floozy…”
“Stop it, Adam!” his father cried. “Don’t talk about her like that. You’re not your mother. Please, son…”
“Please?” screamed Adam, starting to cry. “You ARE leaving me! You’re trading me in for some kid! I HATE YOU!”
Adam’s father had left that night, packed his bags, and just left. When Adam came down in the morning, he was gone, and his mother, Gloria, was in tears. She was inconsolable.
She sobbed and screamed and scratched at her face, driving Adam to despair at his inability to console her. “Please, Mom!” he’d say. “I’m here; I love you…”
“You’ll leave too!” she’d scream. “Just like your father, you’ll go off after some skirt and abandon me…” Adam would hug his mom and promise her he would never leave her, and his hatred of his father grew.
He discovered the woman, Chloe, worked at a local hairdresser, so Adam decided to confront her. He phoned in, made an appointment with her, and showed up right on time the next day.
The receptionist welcomed him and offered him a seat and a tall glass of cucumber water with mint. Adam sat and waited until a pretty brunette came towards him smiling.
“Hello,” she said. “Is this your first haircut with us?”
“Are you Chloe?” Adam asked nervously. The girl was nothing like he had imagined.
“Yes!” the girl said cheerfully. “Did a friend recommend me?”
“I want you to stay away from my father!” Adam screamed, jumping to his feet. “Leave him alone and let him come home!”
“Oh!” the girl gasped. “You must be Adam… Please, you mustn’t think I had anything to do with that…”
“Liar!” screamed Adam and threw the cup of cucumber water in her face. “You’re a liar!” He watched numbly as the water dribbled down her face and chest to soak into her dress. The wet fabric clung to her rounded stomach, and Adam remembered the baby.
He fled from the hairdresser in tears, and even though he never told his mother, he felt ashamed. When he got home, he was shocked to discover his mother knew all about it.
Apparently, one of her cronies had been at the hairdressers and had witnessed the whole lamentable incident. Gloria was triumphant. “My beautiful boy defended me!” she crowed. “You showed that tramp!”
That evening his father called, but Gloria told him Adam didn’t want to speak to him. Adam heard her scream: “Your son won’t talk to you until you come home to your wife like a decent man!”
Adam WANTED to talk to his father. He wanted him to explain everything; he wanted his father to come home so that everything could go back to normal. Sometimes, late at night, Adam admitted that ‘normal’ wasn’t exactly great in their family.
His mom was temperamental and she was very demanding. Peace and quiet weren’t her things. But still, Adam thought loyally, she loved him, and she was a good mom.
Adam missed his dad, but as the days went by and Gloria’s fury at his dad’s prolonged absence grew, his love turned to anger. It wasn’t fair. Adam was putting up with the floods of tears and screaming fits.
Gloria was constantly at the doctor, who prescribed antidepressants and ‘things for her nerves, and often it was Adam who had to make dinner when he came home from school because she was sleeping.
Adam’s grades started to slip, and he was dropped from the football team. His life was crumbling, and it was his dad’s fault. One afternoon Adam skipped school and went to his dad’s office.
“Son!” his father’s face had lit up at the sight of Adam, but the boy shied away from his hug.
“You have to come home!” he cried. “Leave that woman, please; I need you!”
His father lowered his head, and tears filled his eyes. “I can’t, son,” he replied. “I just can’t.”
“You said you love me!” Adam cried desperately. “You’d come back if you loved me!”
“I love you, son, but I love her too,” his father explained. I can’t leave her. It would be dishonest.”
“Wasn’t it dishonest to leave mommy and me?” asked Adam. His father turned his face away, and Adam knew that nothing he said would ever make a difference. His father was gone forever.
At first, his father phoned frequently, but Adam never took his calls. He would send him Christmas presents and birthday presents, but Adam returned them. On the day Adam graduated high school as valedictorian, his father was there, smiling proudly.
He walked toward Adam with open arms to congratulate him, but he just walked past him as if he was a stranger. Adam enrolled in the university of his choice, and he knew tuition was paid, but he never asked his mother where the money came from.
Being away from his mother gave Adam a little more perspective. Yes, she was a difficult, temperamental woman, but she’d been a good wife; she’d done everything his father wanted, hadn’t she?
Adam hated feeling that maybe there was some blame on his mother’s side of the scales, so he preferred not to think about it too much. When he graduated, he moved to Denver on an excellent job offer and had to listen to Gloria complain about ‘abandonment’ yet again.
He phoned her every week and listened to all her gripes. Adam encouraged his mother to start dating. She was a fairly young woman, not even 48, and she was still handsome, but Gloria wouldn’t hear of it.
“Since your father divorced me,” she’d cry. “There is no room in my heart for anyone but you, my son!”
Adam did his best. He phoned often and came home on holidays, and that was how he met the blind child. He was about to board a train back to Denver after a long weekend with Gloria when he saw a little girl crying on the platform.
“Hey!” Adam said gently. “Are you lost?”
The girl tilted a tear-stained face towards Adam’s voice, and he saw that her big blue eyes were strangely unfocused. “Yes!” she sobbed. “I can’t find my mom and dad! I can’t see…”
“Listen,” Adam said. “Don’t worry because I will take you to security, and they will page your parents…”
“We were going to platform nine, so they have to be here!” the girl cried.
“Well, this is platform five,” Adam explained. “But let’s go to platform nine and see if they are there.”
The little girl trustingly placed her hand in Adam’s. “You will know them straight away,” she explained. “Because my dog Fluffy is with them.”
Adam walked onto the platform and saw a couple talking to a police officer. The man was holding a dog’s leash, and that was when Adam’s world fell apart. “Your dad is the man with the dog? THAT’S your father?” he screamed and pushed the child away.
At the sound of his voice, his father turned towards him and saw the child. “Betty!” he cried, and he ran towards the girl and swept her up in his arms. The woman with him, which Adam recognized as Chloe, was in tears.
“Thank you!” she sobbed. “Bless you for finding her…”
Adam’s father looked up and froze. “Adam!” he whispered. “Son, it’s you! You found our Betty?”
Adam was already backing away. He wanted to escape from the terrible sight of his father’s apparent happiness by the side of that woman and the blind child. “I didn’t know she was yours, so let’s leave it at that!” he cried.
“Wait!” Adam’s father ran after him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Please, son,” he said. “You’re a man now; please listen to me…” Something in his father’s voice moved him, and Adam agreed.
The two men sat in the train station café and talked for the first time in ten years. “Your mother and I…I loved her, Adam, but things started going wrong a few years after you were born,” he explained. “I wanted more children; she didn’t…
“It’s not that cut and dried, but we drifted apart. I suggested to Gloria that we should divorce, but she wanted to keep up appearances for you. By the time I met Chloe, your mother and I hadn’t been intimate in over five years.
“Chloe…I fell for her at first sight, and that’s the truth. She came to me because she was pregnant and her boyfriend had walked out, taken her off his health insurance. She wanted to know if there was anything I, as a lawyer, could do.
“Anyway, we fell in love. Your mother was right, Betty isn’t my biological child, but I love her. Betty’s father left Chloe because she discovered she had been infected with toxoplasmosis during pregnancy.
“The doctors warned them the baby might have congenital disabilities, and he just abandoned Chloe and their unborn baby. Adam, I love Chloe; I wanted to be with her to have a new life, I wanted you to be part of that life.
“But Gloria wouldn’t allow it. The only contact she accepted was the alimony and child support checks. I can’t blame you for being hurt and angry with me, Adam, but I hope you can forgive me.”
Adam had tears in his eyes as he reached out to hug his father for the first time in over a decade. “Come on, dad, introduce me to my baby sister…” he said.
From that day on, Adam became a part of their lives, and when Betty had the surgery that restored 80% of her vision, his was the first face she saw. As for Gloria, she grudgingly accepted that her son and his father had a relationship and eventually came to terms with it all.
What can we learn from this story?
Even if you think they are too young to understand, talk to your children — they may understand more than you think. Adam’s dad should have explained things to Adam, but he was afraid he wouldn’t understand and ended up estranged from his son.
Forgive, and you’ll receive serenity and love as a reward. Adam finally forgave his father and gained a loving stepmom and a stepsister he adored.