Janet never knew her father, and her mother often avoided the issue altogether. Years later, a revelation from a customer at work forced her to stop avoiding the issue.
My name is Janet, and I work as a waitress in a local restaurant. Most people don’t think much of my job, but I take great pride in my work. Serving people brings me great joy, and since I can’t be a doctor or fireman, I have to make coffee.
I try to be polite to my customers, giving my best to my work, no matter how small the task is. I meet new people every day in my work, and it’s very interesting. I also have a few regulars who give the place a homely feel.
One regular customer in particular comes in frequently and always asks me to serve him. I find this strange, given that he hardly ever says a word to me. But I don’t mind; he is always polite and always leaves a huge tip when he leaves.
One day the man left his wallet on the table, got up and left. I asked one of my colleagues about him.
“Hi. Do you happen to know the man I just served? He’s a regular customer of ours,” I said.
“Yes, he’s always here and you always serve him. If anyone knows his name, it must be you,” my colleague replied.
“No. He barely says anything.”
I returned home that evening with the wallet. I decided that the man would return to the restaurant around the same time tomorrow, and I would hold on to it until then.
When I got home, I caught my mother, Lisa, cooking. No sooner had I said “Hi” than my mother threw a look at me that said, “Drop your bag and get your apron!” As I put the bag on the table, the wallet fell out.
“And then? What’s that? Are you a pickpocket at work now?” asked Lisa.
“Come on, Mom! No, one of our regulars left this at the restaurant today. I’m going to take the wallet to him tomorrow. Let me see if there’s anything in here that might help,” I said as I opened the wallet.
“There doesn’t seem to be any address or anything in here, but it’s definitely him,” I said, pulling out a picture of him from the wallet.
When I showed her the picture, she instantly froze, dropping a plate of sliced vegetables on the floor. The plate shattered on the floor, and I looked at my bewildered mother, who suddenly turned pale.
“Mom, are you okay?” I asked with concern as I tried to clean up the mess.
“Uhm… I’m okay… I—I just thought… Sorry, I’m just feeling a little lightheaded, that’s all. Do you mind finishing off here?” she said, quickly exiting the kitchen.
I had never seen my mother like that. Something about the man’s picture clearly rubbed her the wrong way. We had a quiet dinner that day which was quite unusual for us.
“Janet! I told you, I don’t know him. Now please, drop it! I’m not feeling great, that’s all. I’m off to bed. Goodnight.”
I could talk to my mother about everything. Well, almost everything. The topic of my father was the only thing off the table. I had never known him; my mother told me he had left when I was a baby. I had long given up on getting information about him beyond that.
As we were cleaning up after dinner in silence, I finally mustered the courage to ask her. I simply had to know.
“Mom… Who is that man? Do you know him?” I asked.
“Do I know him? I should be asking you that. He is your customer,” she nonchalantly responded.
“Well, his picture clearly triggered something. So, I have to ask, who—” I said before my mother interrupted in frustration.
“Janet! I told you, I don’t know him. Now please, drop it! I’m not feeling great, that’s all. I’m off to bed. Goodnight,” Lisa barked, leaving me even more confused.
Several days passed, and the man never pitched to pick up his wallet. I began to fear that he would never come back. At this point, I couldn’t care much for the wallet at all. I just wanted to get to the bottom of this man’s connection to my mother.
And then, one day, the man finally arrived. But, to my surprise, so did my mother. As I watched from inside the restaurant, I saw my mother run up to the man as he approached the restaurant. She stopped him just as he was about to reach the door and barked something at him. He instantly turned back and left.
As the days passed, I couldn’t stop thinking about the whole saga. I concluded that my mother would not give me the answers I longed for. So, I decided to give his wallet another look. Perhaps there was something I had missed.
“You just left us?”
I found a business card in his wallet, as fate would have it. From there, it wasn’t hard to find him as he was the company’s owner. I went to his office, and as I stepped into the lobby, he recognized me instantly from a distance. He ushered me into his office so we could talk.
“Thank you for bringing me my wallet,” he started.
“How do you know my mother?” I asked without hesitation.”Uhm… Well, there’s no easy way to say this… So, I’ll just go ahead and say it. I’m your father, Janet,” he said.
“M—m—my father?” I stammered, trying to find my words.
“Yes, your father. I would come to the restaurant in hopes of seeing you. Your mother must’ve found out about this when I left my wallet and forbade me from seeing you,” he explained.
“And where were you all this time?” I asked.
“Things weren’t working out between your mother and me, and I wasn’t ready to be a father. I was young and a coward. So, I left you and your mother,” he explained dejectedly.
“You just left us?” I asked, in tears.
“I’m sorry, Janet. I panicked, and I thought you would be better off without me. I realized my mistake years later and wanted to make things right, but I never found the courage to. Once I tracked you down at the restaurant, I thought I could at least check up on you from a distance,” he concluded.
I was completely shattered. For the longest time, I had wanted answers about my father. And now that he was in front of me explaining everything, a part of me wished he had never popped up. Should I forgive or forget about him and not give him a chance?
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