By Delbert H. Rhodes
Today she is grown and living independently. A beauty like her Mom, she thrills him. He has loved her since the first moment, and would until his last. Sitting alone and deep in thought Petersen remembers…
…The workday is like any other, boring. He has worked in the facility for about eleven years, and (really) hates the job. Often the thought of other employment exhilarates him, but somehow, he remains here. The people living in the facility are wards of the State, and suffer various maladies. They are mentally and physically handicapped. Though he loves his clients, the tired man wants out. Sitting at his desk and eating lunch, Petersen has a nice view of the Unit. The view is of the south end and pans out past the entry.
A tree-lined main road invites travelers inside. Nowadays the trees are not as full in summer, as when Petersen first arrived, but they are quite beautiful. In those days, farmland and crops lined the roadsides, and there was no golf course. Things change and this man can certainly attest to that point of view.Though he has long tired of the job, the property is a second home to Petersen. Here he spends much of his personal time. After work, he runs then relaxes to good music. The flute is his instrument of choice these days, and he enjoys playing to his Jazz albums. Petersen is not a professional Flutist, but the man can trill a tune a very sweet tune. Whenever Petersen attends college, the classroom is a quiet place to study. He loves the school Library, still, he often returns to the site. The security guards all know him, but respectfully Petersen notifies on his arrival and departure.
Actually, when he was married and fought with the wife, the classroom became his bedroom. Petersen once slept here for two weeks. The building has multiple bathrooms showers and sinks and these were helpful. Each morning before Programs started, Petersen was up and cleaned. Outside: Petersen’s car provided everything the man needed.
A familiar vehicle turns inside and surely, because it is payday, the driver seeks her paycheck.
Lina by passes Petersen’s building on its east end, and as her car rounds the circle, he notices a tiny figure. Rushing to the window, he realizes the passenger is a little girl. Petersen is surprised because he never knew Lina had a child. Actually never knowing is easy, he and Lina are newly acquainted. Petersen switches to the rear window, as Lina parks her automobile. Intently: he watches as the little one exits the passenger compartment. The vehicle stands high off the ground, and her first tiny foot reaches down. The next one follows to the footstep. Petersen is excited to see the child, he loves children, and this little beauty certainly is loveable.
The child walks to the front of the car, her legs visible beneath the vehicle. Petersen watches as she moves forward, she soon disappears in the vehicle’s front wheel well. Then the child emerges at the front bumper. Oh my! How lovely! Although he is at a great distance, and cannot see her clearly, the little girl (obviously) is very beautiful. Petersen is awe-struck, thinking to rush over for a closer look.
The man realizes he is acting silly, vacating the line of thinking. Besides, what would Lina think? Even so, Petersen wants (strongly) to meet, hold, and kiss the sweet child. He wants to let her know who he is, and that he loves her and would always watch over and protect her. “Petersen,” he admonishes himself, “Petersen you are acting foolishly…knock it off.” Naturally, the little one has a dad who loves and protects her; therefore, what would she need of you? (Stupid.)
Lina takes the lead as her daughter follows. Being so tiny, the child takes two steps to her Mother’s one. Petersen cannot believe the striking likeness of the two. The child is a smaller version of Lina. Walking behind Mommy the little one keeps pace, her little legs moving quickly to maintain her position. Like Mommy, the child’s light brown hair courses her back to her waistline. The two are carbon copies, and Petersen is pleased by the sight of them. A warm smile lines his face, and the man is delighted by imagination. Petersen is gleeful of the moment he meets this child and feeling the beauty in her eyes. She is a precious gem….
Peering out at the day, Petersen is melancholy; nowadays he suffers Nessa. (The nickname was given to her in childhood, though Petersen never used it.) Lately, she refuses to communicate with him. Why? The man is uncertain, but he did or didn’t something. Only what, he does not know.
The day is a beautiful spring day. The properties host animals of many types, and no one harms them. Seemingly, everybody views the creatures as family. Family is important and must be protected must be adored. Everything lives here, from the tiniest insect to the great Turkey Vulture. Petersen’s favorites are the lovely Pheasants. Their colorations are marvelous, especially the beautiful band around the birds’ necks.
Unfortunately: The properties continue to witness changes, forcing the beautiful Pheasants and other animals off. Doubtless, many are destroyed when lands are redeveloped. Petersen enjoys (loves) the company of the animals here. After all, and for generations, these lands were home to these creatures. Their families walked here long before the first tree was felled.
Well, many times changes are misfortunes, and life, Petersen knows, is filled with adversity.
Nessa and Petersen were reunited online, almost three months ago. The reunion made Petersen happy. Previously, in May and on her birthday, Petersen thought he saw Nessa at the facility. Prior to her birthday and communicating with her online, Petersen had not seen or spoken to Nessa in many years.
Nessa works at his old job site, her building is directly across the street from her Mother’s building. Lina now works in Personnel; her title is Personnel Administrator. Lina has risen from the position she held when Petersen worked at the facility. He always said that she deserved better. Finally, Lina is where she should be.
Petersen stops by the facility to bring Nessa a birthday present. He gives her something each year, and thrills (just) thinking of her smile. Petersen is happy knowing that he does something (anything) to make her happy. He loves Nessa and wishes she were his true daughter.
Nessa’s gifts are waiting for her in Lina’s office and Petersen visits other previous associates. While walking back to his vehicle, Petersen sees a young woman on the sidewalk. Because the woman is far away, and Nessa was twelve the last time he saw her, Petersen could not be certain it is she. Later, Lina makes the confirmation.
After meeting online: Nessa and Petersen “Inbox” each other frequently. The lost years are revisited, and old tales are shared. Reconnecting to Nessa elates Petersen. Nessa informs Petersen that her residence is near his job site and they make a lunch date.
The date is kept, though Petersen arrives ten minutes late. (Lateness could not be avoided: he arrives on time at the restaurant’s previous location. The store has moved, but without leaving the new address.)
At the new location: Petersen apologizes while entering. The look on Nessa’s face displays frustration. The sorrowful man leans down and kisses her cheek. Mindfully: Petersen recalls Nessa’s childhood tease.
The little one (always) determined the value of every hug or kiss. “Okay, Mommy he gets a ‘Good One.’” Nessa and Petersen played the game often. Arriving at Petersen’s apartment: Smiling: Nessa would lean forward, until her forehead pressed against Petersen’s stomach. “Hey, that’s not a kiss,” the smirking man would complain.
Grinning and with glowing eyes: Nessa would wrap her little arms around the waiting man. Then she would share a warm kiss with Petersen…a Good One.
Nessa says, she thought she would eat alone. Petersen feels terrible. They settle in and soon the food is served. The lunch is ‘tasty’ and totally enjoyable, and Oh, How Nessa Laughs… (just) like in her childhood.
Petersen cannot help but stare at the lovely young woman sitting across the table. He has known her almost all her life. Here she sits, adult and independent. Nessa has not lost her young-girl look. Still she has the face-notwithstanding maturation-of the child. (In addition) her hair, it continues to display the highlight (there) in the top of her head.
This man is awe-struck by the ‘woman’ with whom he dines. Oh how he loves her. Petersen thinks, to have such a daughter would be wonderful. In her childhood, Petersen tells Nessa of his desire:
To Nessa: I would yell from the highest mountain or the tallest building, “Everybody, look at my daughter, isn’t she beautiful?” “I would be the proudest man on this planet,” Petersen continues.
Today, those feelings remain. Although the years have grown grey…or white…and while changes occur (all) around the man, Petersen’s feelings would never change. Since the first moment (they are his) and until his last. They are vibrant and strong they are real they are true.
Petersen understands the importance of a father. He also understands feelings of hurt loss and abandonment. According to his Mother, “Dad” abandoned the lad at the tender age of four. The old man attended college at the time, and went on to enjoy a highly professional career.
Petersen’s father is a Doctor of Mathematics, and a Writer and published Author. The Gent served (many years) as academic Dean for a well-known Black college in south Florida. The zealous high achiever (later) became academic Dean for the Institute of one of the largest Corporations in America, and the World.
Some years ago, and before his retirement, and according to Mom, the old man accepted a higher post within the Corporation.
With exception to $100.00 (dollars) to assist with purchasing his first car, the ‘proud father’ never did anything for Petersen. To his great credit, Daddy Dean opened the doors of the college to Petersen and a close friend. Petersen declined the offer.
Much of Petersen’s childhood pain and depressions were because of his need of a Dad-his Dad. Even today, knowing that he was born and would die, never knowing the love of his father …hurts.
While sitting and talking Nessa and Petersen share question-answer sessions, and Petersen is (pleasantly) surprised by one question. Surely, the question reigns from Nessa’s childhood. She asks whether he and her Mom dated. The truth is, Lina and Petersen went out on one date, but never (truly) dated. They never shared a meaningful and lasting relationship. Petersen is prepared (truthfully) to answer the more difficult question, but it is never asked. (Phew.)
The lunch engagement ends and the two return to their respective lives. Nessa says she would cook Tilapia for Petersen and they would lunch again. (Unfortunately and because of the turn of events, the dish and the lunches would not occur.)
Nessa attends college locally, and requests that Petersen assist with her research paper. He is happy to help her, and they make a date to meet at a local Library. Before the meeting, Nessa informs Petersen that she is feeling ill. If the illness persists, she probably would not keep the Library date. The day arrives and no word from Nessa. Petersen telephones her without response.
Although the man is scheduled to move from his current residence the following day, still he permits time for the Library.
After sitting in the Library for more than one hour, Petersen returns home. Before leaving the site, once again Petersen telephones Nessa. Still without answer. At home, Petersen checks his residential voice mail and none is from Nessa. Petersen is to meet the proposed Landlord at three P. M. and heads out. While closing his apartment door, the residential phone rings. Time is short but the man returns and answers the telephone. Nessa’s voice speaks to him.
Because he must hurry, Petersen rushes off the telephone. Nessa informs him that she has her medicine and he asks whether she is OK. Nessa says, yes, but seems somewhat ill. Petersen asks if he could phone her later, she says yes, and the call is ended. Before the receiver returns to its seat, Nessa is heard saying something, although Petersen is unsure of what. Leaving the apartment the man senses that something went awry. He feels Nessa has said “goodbye.”
After meeting with the new Landlord, Petersen returns home and phones Nessa. She fails to answer; therefore, he leaves a voice mail. Petersen spends the weekend in another county, and telephones and emails Nessa from the hotel. She never answers. Petersen receives no reply from Nessa until weeks later. He emails her regarding a corrected telephone number, to which she responds. Thank you, she writes, and next informs that she would visit her Mom’s for a bite to eat, and then off she would go. This would be Nessa’s last contact with Petersen.
Sweetly: Petersen recalls the Saturday (June 5, 1995) he meets Nessa and Mom at Bear Mountain State Park. Nessa is 8 years old, and celebrated her birthday two weeks ago. Lina wants photos of her daughter before the child is to visit Grandma in Florida. Petersen is happy to have the opportunity.
(An irony exists regarding the birthdays of Nessa and Petersen. They share the same numbers:
Nessa’s abc Sincé te fisto momento
Petersen’s cba Since the first moment
This irony finds a warm spot in Petersen’s heart. (He believes he and Nessa were destined to meet.)
Copyright © 2010 Delbert H. Rhodes