Freedom is a great gift, one many so often treats as dung. Freedom always comes at a great price, something we sometimes truly realize when it has been taken from us.
Life has a way of bringing us into tight corners and sometimes that causes us to do some things we never thought we could do. Some in my stead would blame their father's or someone else for getting here or for making the decisions I made in life. I was like that once, but after some years I've dropped that mindset. Mostly because my son didn't turn out as I did and also many others with similar or worse background as mine didn't end up as I did. The choices I made got me here, and I have no one else to blame for where I am but me.
Anyway, now's not the time for any of that, this is actually a day of rejoicing, Thanksgiving we call it. Some call it Turkey day, I just think is a big movie thriller for Christmas. Be that as it may, this day, this year, would be one I wouldn't trade for Anything for I'm finally coming home. I'd love to sing the song but making those around me listening to me sing would be torture but one thing's for sure, my kingdom has forgiven my mistake and they await my return, at least I hope so.
I don't like living in the past but sometimes the past has to be visited to better understand the present. I came from a genealogy of inmates. My great grand father was an inmate at the Ohio state penitentiary back at 1930, unfortunately he didn't survive the fire outbreak. He was burnt to a crisp in his room and "good riddance" was the expression of most when he met his end. My grand father did is his father before him. He was never caught but he did meet his end by the gun, shot by his own gang. My father wasn't the best of thieves, after a couple of failed attempts to make a life for himself, he met his end by jumping off a building. He wasn't suicidal or anything, he tried jumping to the next rooftop and from what I was told, he had a pretty good chance of making the jump but sadly, he was no Batman. He ran for a while to give him a powerful boost when he jumped. He perfectly timed the edge of the building to jump off from but the part of the ledge he leaped from gave way and he met his end in the most gruesome way possible. Gravity was no friend of his. He died when I was five, leaving me without a dad nor a role model. My mom did the best she could and that I'd be forever grateful for.
Then it was me. Unlike the fathers before me I told myself I would never be a criminal. I said to myself that I'd break that legacy which was more like a curse. I was very determined to do that but then life happened. I studied to be a lawyer, I wasn't the top of my class in Harvard but I did come close. If you take out the ten guys ahead of me then I'd have been the best in my class. After Harvard life continued and I started my own firm about seven years later. Also I got married, moved into a bigger house and since I wouldn't let my mother stay in a home, she came to live with me and my wife had no issues with that, besides my mom was a delight. It was as if life was a bed of roses for me at a point but I didn't realize that I was spending more than I earned and I was about to run my firm into the ground. I got into a pickle financially and I needed to bail myself out. If I didn't I'd lose my house, my firm would probably lose clients and close up and I could very well be on the streets. My mother would suffer seeing that I'm her only child. My wife, our daughter and our unborn son would also be a victim and truly the list goes on, down to my car being taken from me. I tried to fix it but what on earth could I do seeing that no one or bank would agree to give me a loan? Robbery? Nah, that's way too rich for my blood. Kidnapping?, not as easy as it sounds and also, I didn't have the stomach for it. How about something I could do from my laptop or from my office, something I wouldn't be caught doing?, or so I thought.
While still pondering, truly ready to take up anything that came my way, I was met with a filthy rich millionaire who needed my expertise. At first I thought it was with legal matters, I only realized it was way more when it was too late. Sometimes I tell myself that if I had known I wouldn't had gone into business with him, other times I look and I ask myself, what other choice did I really have? Normally I wouldn't love representing such in a law court but these were desperate times I guess. We did the first case and we won. I got paid more than I charge and with that he brought me into his world. He needed someone to help with the financial part of his business. Someone who could help transport his money and keep it in banks around the world. It was a simple enough business but I wasn't the best person to do that. Soon I realized he came to me because I had a clean record. I was more of a "good lawyer", one not easily suspected of being involved in such criminal activities as money laundering. I did accept but only because I felt it was too late to turn back, for I heard of what happened to the last guy that did this and and double crossed him and it wasn't pretty.
So I was part of something illicit and by now you must have guessed the end. His cup was soon filled with his sins and he was caught and as a result, so was I. They needed more evidence than they had to take him down for good but they didn't have such. He made sure of that by tying up every lose end, including me. Yes, he tried to take me out of the equation but he didn't succeed. Realizing the mess I was in, the best option possible for me was to come clean, for my safety and that of my family. I came clean to the police and gave them everything they needed to take him down for good, including my testimony in court which was a shock to my employer because he thought I was dead. In return, my family was kept safe and so was I. Be that as it may I wasn't off the hook, I was just as guilty as he was and if I had come clean sooner this all could have been solved and some persons would still be alive. My involvement in his crimes landed me 15 years in jail without parole while he got a death sentence.
These past years has been the worse years of my life but at the end some good came from it. I realized that a lot of things we go after in life though not bad are just not necessary, we can survive without it. Sometimes our appetite puts us in debts that brings the worst out of us. This I learned at a terrible price. A price only fools like me paid.
My mom was the first price I had to pay. She visited me as often as she could but the sight of seeing me behind bars slowly eroded her of the will to live on. She did all within her power to make sure I didn't become my dad. I did try to make this happen but it seems in the end we are both the same. With just five years of my sentence served, she left me for good after falling terribly ill. I did remember the last story she told me before her death. It was of Hagar and how her tears prevented her from seeing the well. She did want that to be my end. She said there was still hope for good.
During my stay in prison my firm was liquidated and closed up for good. My house, my car, amongst other things, all these were taken and used to settle some debts. It seems my worst fears had become my reality. Also, I became a father of a son who I have met but once since this day. Same day my daughter decided to visit. For years only my wife visited and she stopped after filling for divorce. She got remarried within months, making me a forgotten image in her past. I don't know if she prevented my kids from seeing me of if they chose not to but one thing's for sure, she didn't push them to come. So when they came last week to see me, days before my release, I knew it was because they wanted to and what great joy I felt that day. Out of joy I wept as a kid, feeling pretty much as the prodigal son being taken back by his father. I finally got to see my little girl after a decade and a half and she was all grown up. She was now heading off to college and never had I felt so proud of my little girl. For the first time in my life I saw my son in the flesh and he was every bit as great as I thought he would be. They actually invited me for the family's Thanksgiving dinner, a thoughtful gesture I didn't expect. Their mother and stepfather agreed to this, who was I to reject their offer. From the looks of things it seems they were ready to have me back in their lives and I just can't express how I feel. I guess this is what my mother meant when she said there was still hope for good.
Seeing that they no longer stayed at the manor, they had to give me their current home address and I had to take a cab to get there. For now I stay with a friend who was more than eager to let me stay. I plan to leave when I do get my life together. For now, I'm stuck with him, eating his food and using his thousand dollar suit for Thanksgiving dinners.
When I arrived at the address, I was invited in and was given a warm welcome, more than what I expected. Their home was beautiful and breathtaking right from the exterior. The flowers and hedges were just magnificent and spectacular were the paintings and sculptures inside. It might be smaller than what I had but it was great nonetheless, and I dare say it's better in every way. Besides, what makes a homes isn't stuff and possessions but people. Happy people who love each other and love to be around each other. That's something we didn't really have in our big house, that happiness.
The joy I saw in all their faces was welcoming, almost made me felt like a war hero. The food served was to die for, never had I ever eaten something like this in ages. Everything was just perfect, better than I could have ever dreamed and when it got to the part they all said what they were thankful for, I couldn't help but cry. When it was time to start, Donald, my wife husband, hit his glass gently to get our attention and he started …
"I'd love to say a big Thank you to everyone here …"
"It's not like we had a choice, you threatened to drive me here with a tank if that's what it took to bring me here" interjected my little all grown Miranda jokingly and we all laughed, just like a big happy family. It seems they were being themselves around me, not walking on eggshells and that makes me at rest.
"Well You're here, that's what matters. To John …" he said to me with a smile on his face "…my wife Cassie and to our little bun in the oven. I am thankful for all of this, for all of this, one way or another you all make my life complete".
It was a quite unexpected speech which I felt didn't quite hold true for me. Anyway, my ex Cassie, our chef, was next.
"I'm just thankful for life. Last month I was in an accident with Winston, …" she said rubbing the head of our little boy. I guess that had something to do with them wanting me around. "…I was scared that it could be the end for both of us but Thank God it wasn't. He's perfectly Okay and ready to win the trophy in baseball final coming up and I'm good as well, and I'm truly thankful that I didn't lose the baby."
I wanted to comment at that point but I knew not what to say. Next was my daughter and she spoke as majestic as ever.
"I'm thankful for a lot of things, for family, for health and also for getting into college. Though I'm rushing to leave home now I know I'd miss you all when I get there, still I really really want to go." She said, causing laughter in the room. My son was next which would mean I'd be the last.
"I'm thankful that I didn't die in that accident. It actually happened so fast that I felt scared only after the incident. Also I'm thankful that for the first in my school history we are through to the finals and this year we have a good chance of winning and I'd love it if you could make it …" he said to me and I replied in a heartbeat, causing him to smile "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
"…Also, I'm thankful for my dad. He may have made some bad decisions but in the end he made the right ones. He helped to put away a very bad man which undoubtedly saved many lives. He made his bad decisions for us and even the last ones for good was also for us. In an unlikely way he's a hero, my hero, and I couldn't be prouder to call you dad. " His words pierced deeper than any bullet, down to my very soul, truly something I had no comeback for. He made me feel like one of earth's mightiest heroes and that I wasn't prepared for. I was next to speak but it seems the weeping wouldn't allow my lips to make up words. Soon I was able to pull myself together and I stood up to speak, still with tears rolling down my eyes.
"When people spoke of mercy and forgiveness, I never knew what it meant until this day. I'm truly thankful for all of this. Yes I have lots of regrets, things I did which I wish I didn't do, things I know now that I hoped I always knew or believed but to come out of all of that and to meet this welcome, this family, this is something I could never hope for nor dream off. I wish I was a better father and I know I wasn't the best role model for you or for anyone but I look forward to making changes that would turn my life around for the better and to make you truly proud of me. I love you all, Donald, Cassie, Miranda and Winston. I love you all and I'm thankful to be here, I'm thankful for you marriage and for your child on the way. I'm thankful you got accepted into college Miran and I look forward to seeing you manifest greatness. Son, You're the best son a father could ask for and having you call me dad makes me not much of a failure after all. Don't worry, I'll be there when you lift your trophy. I see greatness in you and a bright future, you would never end up as I did, you would only do better than I could ever dream of. Donald, Thank you for having me. I know you might not have wanted this but Thank you, Thank you. Sometimes in life we get so close with people that it seems our shadows are cast together. Often times that stops being so and we become strangers, just another face in the crowd, don't ever let that be you and Cassie. She's a gem, the best one this world has ever seen and You're lucky to have her. Kids, You're lucky to have her as mother. Hold on to her for as long as you can, never let her go, I wish you all the best…"
I had more I wanted to say but didn't know how best to say it. I wanted to sit, listen and continue the dinner but I just couldn't do that. Suddenly I felt the best thing to do was to leave and that I decided to do. Gladly I met no obstruction when I did. We definitely have better days ahead but this day has come to an end, the best ending possible.
"…Thank you all for having me, truly I look forward to doing this again. Happy Thanksgiving."