Did I tell you about the time when I ran away from my father? I was at a casino with my mom, visiting her for the weekend and mom just loves to feast on the casino buffet, so I took one for the team and accompanied her.
On our way out, she suddenly exclaimed, “There’s your dad!”
And sure enough there he was. Seated at a slot machine, alone, staring into the screen. His back was to me, but the dirty old baseball cap and dark gray hooded sweater gave him away. Seconds went by and I didn’t know what to do. I found my legs walking the other way, moving back.
“You have to say hi to him, ” my mother hissed.
My legs didn’t want to say hi. They took me in the other direction. Dad would not be happy with me visiting mom and not even telling him I would be in town. I could already see his angry face, deep frown, harsh cold words spewing forth, “you should tell me when you come…look at you, you’re here and you didn’t even tell me…” I swallowed and headed out the door, my mom racing to keep up with me.
And then the guilt. Had he seen me? Maybe my bright sweater gave me away and he saw my reflection on the screen. Maybe he had turned in time to see me racing out the door. How would he feel? Why didn’t I just say hi?
Oh and then it really started pouring. Pouring guilt, GUILT. I could see my day of reckoning and the sky would be a television playing all the awful things I had ever done and there would be the image of my poor dad playing a slot machine and my cruel self running away from him. And he would be seated next to me, seeing the same things I was seeing. He would witness how I scampered away, away from my own father. Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilteeeeeeeeee.
The next day as soon as I left work I called him. I told him how much I thought of him and that no matter how busy I was, that I always thought of him and I wanted him to know that he was always on my mind. And then for bonus points I told him I would send him money, that I just wanted to make sure I still had the correct address. I mailed him a fat check and slept really well that night.
Several days later I called him again. Robot voice telling me he had not set up his message service. Great. Typical dad thing to do. I called again 30 minutes later. Same robot voice. Not able to leave a message. I called again in an hour. Same. I texted my brother and asked if he had visited him.
“Dad’s in Mexico, he took off Friday.” BAM! The pieces came together. Dad cashed my check and without a word to me, left the country. Not even a warning that he would be out traveling, simply took the money and sent himself on a trip.
Hmmmmm did he get a glimpse of me that day at the casino and played me like a violin to get money?
I gave guilt a fat kick out the door.