I walked into the kitchen to confront the man who was neglecting, taking advantage of, and at the very least-emotionally abusing his father. There had just been an emotional scene carried out in the front room of the house. Yelling. Demands. Ugly truths and sad truths. He used his height to intimidate his wheelchair bound father. He was a bully who lived off of his dad while neglecting him.
He had left the room. I waited a few minutes and followed.
That’s when I saw him standing there. Calmly. Stirring his coffee.
As I approached the doorway I saw this man standing at the kitchen counter. He was well over six feet tall. He was calmly stirring a little white cup of coffee. The cup was similar to one of those old fashioned diner, white but stained with years of coffee, ceramic mugs.
And there, leaning on his right leg, was a child not three feet tall. Long, messy and uncared for hair, hanging down past her shoulders. And while he stirred the coffee with his left hand his right hand rest gently on the child’s hair. Slowly moving his fingers back and forth in her hair. It was quiet in the kitchen, and the child was obviously at ease and comforted by being with him.
I could not reconcile the horror of a man and what had been played out just minutes before with this tender scene.
Quite simply, it shocked me.
What I saw in that kitchen didn’t change that man.
But it changed me.
I still think, all these years later, that it gave me hope.
Hope, that even in the monster, resides the possibility of something unbroken. Something that could be, or could have been, different.