“So Near Yet So Far”
Samuel stood in front of the cream colored house,
admiring the neat trim of the hedges, the blooming petals of the rose bushes,
and the flawless blue paint on the window panes. He frowned and looked at the
paper clutched in his left hand. It was the right address, but it didn’t look
like the right house to him. It didn’t look like the house of somebody who had
left their family when their son was two years old. But that’s what Samuel’s
Anger rushed through Samuel as he thought once again
about the father he never got to know. He thought about how his mom had to
scrape money together from her three jobs just to put him through high school,
the various parent-teacher meetings his dad was never there for, the ‘Career’
day when Samuel was in third grade, where he had to sit awkwardly at the back
of the classroom while the other kids showcased their fireman dads or lawyer
what made Samuel even angrier than the absences or the abandonment, was that,
after a year of searching for his father, he finds out that Lance Reno was
living in the next town over. It was a one hour drive. He lived one hour away
from the father he never knew, and the worst part was that his dad (if you
could call him that) didn’t even send a postcard to let his former family know
that he was still alive. Needless to say, Samuel was angry with his father, but
he hadn’t come all this way to knock on his father’s door and yell at him.
Straightening his back and taking a deep breath, Samuel
shook away his anger and rung the doorbell. He adjusted his backpack on his
shoulders and waited. The door opened, revealing a little eight year old girl
with curls. Samuel stared at her, first in shock. Then he noticed her sand
blonde hair, like his, and her wide brown eyes, like his, and the freckles
sprinkled on her cheeks, very similar to his. She frowned and said hi, whereas
Samuel stood there, shocked.
“Suzy, who’s at the door?”
She looked back and yelled, “I don’t know, Daddy.”
Samuel could hear the heavy steps coming towards the door
from inside the house, and Suzy backed away from the door.
He looked a lot like Samuel. Just like Suzy, the man had
sand blonde hair, brown eyes, and freckles. And like Samuel, they both had a
large build and broad shoulders. He suddenly realized that, though he had been searching
for and preparing himself to meet his father for over a year now, Samuel had no
inkling as to what to say to him.
But before Samuel could react, the man ushered Suzy to
the living room and came back, closing the door behind him and stepping out
onto the porch. He looked at Samuel up and down, inspecting him. His eyes
looked anxious, but, unexpectedly, there was no hint of confusion on the man’s
Samuel could say anything, the man spoke.
“What are you doing here?”
Samuel frowned. “I’m here to see Lance Reno. That’s you,
The man sighed and rubbed his temples with his
forefingers. “Yes, that’s me.”
Confused, Samuel stayed silent. Why was this man so
frustrated? Did Samuel come at a bad time? Did he do something wrong? It seemed
as though, without speaking even more than ten words to his father, Samuel had made
Lance stayed silent, his head in his hands, looking very
frustrated. Samuel decided to speak, “Well… um, my name is Samuel Waldwick…”
“Yeah, kid, I know who you are.”
Samuel stared back at the man in front of him, stunned.
“What do you mean, you know who I am?” Samuel felt not
only felt confused, but he also felt as if he knew what his father was about to
Lance sighed again, this time looking uncomfortable, as if
he would’ve liked to be anywhere else in the world than on that porch, in front
of the son he had abandoned 17 years ago. He shoved his hands in his pockets,
looking at the ground.
“Look, kid, I’m not proud of what I did to you and your
mom. And if I were you, I’d about punch me right now. But… listen; I have a
real family now. I got two little girls, and a lovely wife. They can’t know I
have another kid. I can’t lose another family.”
Upon hearing this, the anger Samuel had earlier pushed
back rushed through his veins once again like a storm.
“You didn’t lose
us, you walked away.” Samuel blurted
He stepped back, dropping his backpack on the floor. This
guy knew who his son was, and didn’t do a thing about it? Lance looked at
Samuel, angry at what he had just said.
the way I see it, I did you guys a favor. I wasn’t ready to be a father, not
back then.” Samuel glared at him, his eyes blazing with anger, no longer
holding any resemblance to the brown eyes he had inherited from his father.
didn’t even call, or write once, or send me a birthday card. I’m going to
college, and I didn’t even know where to send you the invite to my graduation!”
thought back to his high school graduation, how he had stood there, accepting
his diploma and watching his mother cry tears of joy, and he remembered how he
felt: after finishing high school, he still didn’t know who his father was. It
seemed as though that lack of vital yet ordinary information overshadowed
anything he did learn in high school.
Lance grabbed the front of Samuel’s shirt, his face inches away from Samuel’s
that what this is all about, then? You need money for college? Is that it?”
Samuel pushed away from his father and grabbed his bag, mumbling to himself,
“You’re so far from who I hoped you
Angry and disappointed, he walked away into
the dark, yelling back, “I don’t need anything from you!”
later, Samuel thought back to that moment, when he realized that his father
wasn’t anything near what he expected him to be. He had believed that, in order
to move on with the next step in his life and become the man he wanted to be,
he needed to know first what kind of man his father was. He had imagined his
father to have been, despite abandoning his family, a decent man who had gotten
his life together. But the truth was, that man back at the cream colored house
with the two little girls and the lovely wife, wasn’t anything near the kind of
man Samuel hoped to one day become. He was just another husband in a suburban
home, with what appeared to be large skeletons in his closet.
that first, and last, encounter with his father, it was obvious to Samuel that,
even though they lived so near to one another back then, in his mind, they
really lived worlds apart.