“Daddy, you can’t die, you just can’t!”
I cannot believe my mom has done this to him. It’s not like he chose to be an alcoholic.
15 years earlier -
“Frank, you are not welcome here. I told you Emma does not want to see you and neither do I. Now please leave.”
“Lydia, please don’t do this. Don’t stop me from seeing my daughter. It’s not right.”
“Just go frank or you will leave me with no choice but to call the police.”
“Then at least let me give her this necklace. Please, Lydia?”
“No, Frank. She doesn’t need it, and she doesn’t need you.”
I remember wondering why my mom wouldn’t let my dad come to my birthday party. Their argument got so loud we could hear it in the back yard. I really wanted to see my dad but by the time I got to the front of the house, he was already gone. Growing up without my dad has been hard. Mom always said it was for the best. She said his job and the alcohol were more important to him than me.
The sound of Dad’s weak, hoarse voice snap me out of my trip down memory lane.
“Emma, are you okay?”
“Oh. Sorry Daddy. I guess I was lost in thought. I was just remembering my fifth birthday. It’s hard to believe that was 15 years ago.”
“Emma, there’s something I’ve been wanting to give you. It’s in the top drawer of the bedside table. Hand it to me, would you?”
“What a beautiful locket, Daddy! I love it! But who is this woman in the picture holding a baby?”
“The baby is you, and the woman holding you is um, well, it’s your mom, Emma. Your real mom.”
This cannot be happening. Not now. This is too much. First, as soon as I am reunited with my dad, I find out he is dying and now my mom is not even my mom.
My mom, or whoever that woman is that raised me, always said my dad had a lot of secrets but I never imagined anything like this.
I have to get out of here. I need to go for a drive and clear my head.
Here comes my Dad’s hospice nurse. I guess I am not leaving after all.
“Miss Emma, I believe this beautiful heart shaped locket belongs to you? I found it on the floor when I went to check on your dad. He said you dropped it on your way out.”
“Is he okay? I guess I need to go back and say goodnight before I leave. I’ll be right in.”
“Knock, knock, Mr. Sanders? Your daughter is back. Are you up for that visit now?”
The nurse was kind and soft spoken. She reminded me of a piano teacher I once had.
“Daddy, I know you need your rest, and I didn’t mean to upset you. I shouldn’t have walked out like that. It’s just that, well, finding out what mom did to you, and now finding out I was adopted… It’s just all a lot to take in. I hope you understand.”
“Oh Emma! Baby, please let me explain!”
When I was barely 18 years old, the entire world had an economic collapse and everyone just went crazy. There were riots breaking out and looters everywhere.
In an effort to stop the chaos, a new governmental system of government was implemented”
When the new regime took over, the streets were filled with protestors and activists who opposed the change.
In many provinces, including ours, every male, old enough to read and write, was trained in basic combat techniques, and sent out to restore order.
That is when I became Agent-8375468, property of the Sovereign Government Order.”
The lines in my Dad’s face seemed to grow deeper and he stopped to catch his breath
“I’m kind of tired now, Emma. We can talk more later. Okay?”
“Sure, Daddy. You get some rest. I will come back tomorrow and check on you. Love you.”
That was a lot to take in, but it sure explains why Dad became an alcoholic. I think I would too if I had been around during the global collapse and rise of the Sovereign Government Order.
I still cannot figure out why my parents gave me up for adoption or why my new mom would try and kill my dad all these years later. I guess I will find out more tomorrow.
I wonder if Dad got any sleep. I sure didn’t.
“Good morning, Daddy! How did you sleep last night?”
“Not at all, Emma. I could not help but think about how hard all of this must be for you. I am so sorry I had to cut your history lesson short. Ever since your mom… well, you already know. I am sorry. I won’t bring that up again. I’m just sayin’ my health isn’t so good these days.”
It’s so hard watching Daddy suffer like this.
“I know Daddy. She had no right to do that to you. I hope she rots in prison. Anyway, we don’t have to talk if you aren’t up for it.”
I can tell he is weary.
“No, Emma, please stay. I enjoy your company; besides you need to know the truth and I don’t know if I will have another chance to tell you.”
“Okay, Daddy. Just don’t overdo it. I just got you back and I would like to keep you around for a while.”
“I’m not that fragile just yet, Baby Girl. But the doctors don’t know how much longer I can keep going.
Anyway, let’s see, where did I leave off yesterday? Have I told you yet about your Aunt Olivia? She was your mother’s sister.
I say was, she was killed in a riot on the first day the SGO took over. It was a bloody battle. It took a few years for everything to settle down and for people to get used to the new regime.”
“Sounds like life was very different back then. I am sorry you had to go through that, Daddy.”
“You haven’t heard the half of it yet, Emma. You’d better brace yourself.
When I was enlisted as an agent in the SGO Militia, I met the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was my commanding officer. We fell in love during my training, but we had to keep our relationship a secret. It was absolutely forbidden for an officer to have a relationship with a subordinate. We would have both faced court martial.
When she found out she was pregnant, she tried to hide it in hopes of going AWOL, escaping to the mainland before you were born. It did not quite work out that way. She went into premature labor, and you were born in an underground bunker.
She had no choice but to take you to a SGO hospital because you needed specialty care. That is when that picture was taken that is in the locket.
I saw you for the first time. I had no way of knowing I was seeing her for the last time.”
My heart is racing with anticipation.
“Oh my God, Daddy. What happened?”
“They killed her, Emma. Fellow officers took it upon themselves to bypass the court martial and they, well, they ‘made sure she would never be seen again’ is the way they put it.
If anyone suspected I was your father, the military would have ordered a paternity test and I would have faced court martial or worse. I had to keep a low profile and not let anyone see me at the hospital.
That is when Lydia, the woman who raised you, stepped in. She was a nurse at the hospital. She claimed to be your mother’s best friend, though she hardly knew her. She took custody of you. I could not stop her. All I could do was hope that she would have mercy and let me see you.”
“Oh my God, Daddy. My head is spinning. I do not know what to think about all of this. The woman who raised me basically kidnapped me while the government looked the other way?”
“Emma, I can see this is upsetting you and that’s the last thing I want to do. Let’s just stop for now.”
“No, Daddy, please? I want to know. I need to know. I mean, that is if you feel up to it.”
“I tried to see you several times that first year, but Lydia would always make excuses saying if the government found out I was your father, her and I would both be brought up on charges.
I was eventually promoted to officer and my commander granted me permission to petition for custody of you with total immunity. It was not without conditions, but at least I would never face court martial.
I thought Lydia would be happy to hear the news, but she was not. Quite the opposite. She flew into a rage and said she would have me killed if I ever set foot on her property again.
I went to an attorney and got set up to send her child support payments. She was happy to take my money, but she still would not let me see you. She said you were better off not knowing me.
Every year, on your birthday I tried to come see you and every time, I got the door slammed in my face.”
“Oh, Daddy. I am so sorry! I never knew why mother said you were no good. Every time I asked about you, she just told me you were no good and for me to mind my own business.”
“I hope you can forgive me, Emma. For not being there. For turning to alcohol to numb the pain. For not standing up to Lydia, and the SGO and for not doing what was right. I guess I deserve what I am getting. I am a pretty worthless excuse for a father.”
“Daddy, please don’t say that. I understand. I really do. You did the best you could. Besides, you are sober now and that’s all that matters.”
“I am really sorry, Emma. I really am.”
“Daddy, are you okay? You don’t look good? Daddy?”