An unexpected door opens for Manny because of forgiveness.

Confucius - A Journey of a thousand miles - All-Images.org
Confucius – A Journey of a thousand miles – All-Images.org

Open Doors.

The crinkled paper stunk of three weeks of garbage. Multi-colored remnants of the two food groups that frequented my office struggled to blot out the black marker. With my boots firmly planted on the cracked cement, I struggled to pull my glasses out of my pocket. I hated those things. I squinted at the piece of paper as I tried to match the numbers with the decrepit house in front of me.

An old woman stood up from behind the bushes and spoke. “Still as stupid as ever. Walk up to the front door, turn the knob, and push. I’m sure you’re well versed at turning things and pushing them around.”

It took a moment to subtract twenty plus years from the old hag standing in front of me. Then recognition dawned on me like a nuclear blast. It was Maddy. I’d rather be at a lecture on tooth decay that standing here in front of this worn-out medusa.

“Woman, some things are made to be turned. Some things are made to be pushed. And some things should just be let go of.”

With mud caked hands on her scary-thin waist, Maddy wore a scowl that spoke of years of terrorizing any smile that threatened to cross her face. Her gray pallor matched her gray tee-shirt. Her jeans barely clung to her waist. “So, who’d you steal that leather coat from? Don’t lose any of that lightning speed of yours or the mob with pitchforks will catch up to you.”

The front door opened revealing a well dressed woman. I looked her over from hair to shoes. Her large brown eyes captured me. They spoke of years of being in authority. Her tanned oval face was well framed with silky brown hair that was tied in the back with a beautiful shell. She wore a smart black suit with a creamy white blouse. The outfit was complete with white running shoes. “Mother, you have packing to do. Stop playing in the dirt.”

It was hard to believe that she was related to the medusa. I was stunned. “I would never have recognized you. You’re Tina?”

“That would be me. Come on in. Let’s sit at the dining room table over there. You could have been nicer to her.”

I pulled out the closest chair and sat down. “She picked up right where we left off. If I had actually said something nice to her she would’ve figured out a way to turn it into a reason to hate me more. She never wanted me to be nice to her. She only wants to blame me. Her gears are stuck.”

Tina walked into the kitchen and came out with a tub of ice cream and two spoons. “Do you hate her?”

“Are you trying to bribe me Tina?”

“Absolutely.”

“It would be easier if I did. Mocha Almond Fudge?”

Tina held up two spoons “You still care for her? After all these years, are you telling me that the pilot light is still lit for her?”

I took one of the spoons. “Lack of hate doesn’t mean I care for her.”

“Mo … er … Da … eh …What does that mean?”

“You still calling me Mommy Daddy? It’s been a long time since I heard that. Say, why am I here? I mean, the ice cream is really good. And, it’s still my favorite. But, you wanted to see me? I thought it was her.”

Tina shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “Do you still care for her?”

“You brought me all this way to ask stupid questions? What a waste of money. But, this is your dime, you sure you want to hear this?”

Tina took a bite of some ice cream. “Why would I ask if I didn’t?”

I took a long look around the place. “This place is amazing. It’s nicer than a lot of museums. You must get a lot of visitors wanting to see what these houses used to look like.”

Tina leaned forward and rested her chin onto her hand. “When I don’t have much work as a producer, I do walking tours through the house. Mother doesn’t mind at all to have strange people trudging through her bedroom.”

I smiled. “It’s nice to know that you inherited something from me.”

“Answer the question Daddy. Do you still care for her?”

I sighed deeply. “I don’t know. It’s been a long time since anyone at all cared about what I thought about her. Most people, including you, never wanted to hear it.”

“It was you we wanted to hear from – not your opinions. But, that was a long time ago. I’m asking now.”

I suddenly sat ramrod straight and straightened the tie that I never wore. “Wow. If I’d known that I was going to be interviewed by a fancy reporter this morning, I would have worn a better suit.”

For a split second, Tina thought about throwing some ice cream. “You’re still a smart ass. Actually, I’m glad that hasn’t changed about you. And, I’m a producer, not a reporter.”

“Well, of course you’re doing well.”

Tina sat back and crossed her arms. “Are you taking credit for it?”

I leaned back and talked into the spoon like it was a microphone. “I’m glad that you asked me that question, Jane. As a writer, it’s my job to make producers like Miss Tina here look good.”

“Oh please…”

“Oh, I see that you’re having trouble seeing that writers are the most critical resource in any venture. Because, if Miss Tina here has a great script then the talent will come flocking. But, if she has some piece of crap script …”

“You’re avoiding the question.”

“You changed the subject.”

“I’m changing it back.”

I went quiet for a long time and picked at the ice cream. “Okay, bottom line. It took me a long time to get over the hate. It took me even longer to figure out how to forgive your mother. The hardest part was asking her to forgive me.”

“You’re full of it. You never asked her that.”

“Come on Tina. Why would she tell you? It would make her look bad. Lying was always one of her best qualities.”

“That’s just mean.”

“Mean Manny. That’s what they call me. You know, I’ve spent the last couple of decades throwing darts at her picture in my office and trying to come up with just the right lie to cause maximum pain, like I have nothing better to do.”

“What? No walking uphill through the snow to get to your office in the Bahamas?”

I sighed and stared at the ceiling. “That truth may be 20 years old and gathering dust from lack of use, but that was the last time I saw her. The years have not been kind to her. She’s wasting away in her hate and bitterness and you know it. I can see it her eyes, and I can see it in your eyes.”

“You’re not a nice person.”

I stared straight into her piercing eyes. “Hey, I got an idea! How about I sugar coat it like one of your assistants? I’ll tell you what you wanna hear. Maybe I should come up with some clever phrase to hide the truth. Maybe I should just outright lie. Would that be easier? Yeah, right. No producer wants to hear that crap – at least no producer who’s worth anything. Producers want a straight shooter. Producers need a straight shooter. Well, hear it is. I feel sorry for your mother, but not that sorry. She tried to humiliate me in public more times than I can count. She walked out on the marriage. Then, when I finally got remarried, she tried to break up that marriage too. But, I don’t hate her. I honesty wish that would have been able to get on with her life. Hell, she’s no better than the rest of us. I feel sorry for her because she never got over the hate.”

“You … are not what I expected.”

I turned around and looked at the old door. “Some things are made to be turned. Some things are made to be pushed. But, some things are made to be opened. I finally figured out that some things are brought into this world for the sole purpose of helping us to find a better place. I found that door. But that doesn’t mean that I have to be a doormat for your mother. And, it sure as hell doesn’t mean that I’m going to start yelling at her any more either. I don’t hate her. Hating is for the weak.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I decided to stop being DUMB. DUMB = Deed Unforgiveness Makes Bitterness. D.U.M.B. Unforgiveness tears you apart, hate rots you from the core out, but bitterness kills.”

“You just never stop, do you?”

“Well, I have to tell you Miss Tina that I finally decided to put my big boy pants on.”

“Try again dad.”

I sighed. “They’ve been telling me for years that I need to learn to be more superficial when I’m talking to people. It’s not in my nature.”

I rifled through my clothes for that piece of paper. When I found it, I gave it to her. “Here Tina, read this.”

Seconds turn into minutes and a careless deed is done
Minutes turn into hours and thoughts turn into anger
Hours turn into days and anger turns into revenge
Days turn into months, revenge turns to silence
Months turn into years, silence turns into pain
Years turn into decades and pain into apathy
Decades turn into death, deeds are done
All because we wouldn’t compromise
All because we wouldn’t discern
All because we wouldn’t love
And now, you are all alone

“Tina, life is too short for that crap. I don’t want that for me and I really don’t want that for you.”

Tina looked down and took a giant mouthful of ice cream.

“Why am I hear Tina. Why did you want to see me?”

“Daddy, someone put one of your plays on my desk without your name on it. When I read it, I loved it. Then, when they told me that you wrote it, I had a really hard time with it. So, I decided to bring you down here to see where we stood. “

“And?”

“Daddy, we’re going to make a great team!”

My joy burst. “It was certainly worth all of that effort to learn how to forgive others after I learned how to accept that Jesus could forgive me.”

Forgiveness is for the strong  - Gandhi

 

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