He Wanted Me

18 03 2013

Melissa was in her mid 20s when we met back around 1990.  A petite sandy blond cutie that didn’t look like she weighed 100 lbs soaking wet.  She was a waitress at Imageone of my favorite restaurants that I would visit often for breakfast.  I would get a kick out of watching her as she worked.  She was a little spitfire that could cover more ground and wait on more tables than any two waitresses combined.  Melissa would take an order, send it to the kitchen, then blaze through the dining room rag in one hand and coffee pot in the other, wiping down tables and refilling customers cups while barely breaking stride.  The real floor show is when she would disappear into the kitchen and then reappear loaded down with plates for a big order where she would place every plate correctly in front of the right customer and never spill a drop; quite an accomplishment for such a little gal I must say.  On those rare occasions when business was slow Melissa would take time to make conversation.  I found out she was a single mother trying to balance more in her life than what customers put on their plates.  She worked at the restaurant full time, cared for a toddler son and squeezed two nights a week going to school for accounting.  “One more year and I’ll have my degree, then I can get a better job and have more time for my son,” she once told me with a smile.  Ones such as Melissa always hold a special place in my heart for I was raised by a single mother who sacrificed much to make a better life for me as a child.  I would always make sure I encouraged Melissa in her endeavor and also try to leave a generous tip, just to try and help her out a little more, and she was always kind and grateful.  Yes, Melissa was a special person; it would be several weeks later that I would discover how special she actually was.

One morning when I arrived at the restaurant I couldn’t help but notice a rather large Spanish gentleman sitting at a back table.  His size alone brought attention, but the rest of his appearance was a little out of sorts.  His clothes were unkempt like he had slept in them and he had about a three day beard.  He hardly looked up from his coffee and when he did I wasn’t sure if he was just really tired or trying to recover from a drunk he tied on the night before.  When Melissa brought his food he seemed to be upset with her by the look on his face as they spoke.  They exchanged words for a few minutes and then she hurried off to take care of other customers.  This man started to say something else, but then waved his hand in her direction of retreat and dug into his breakfast.  Some time later Melissa returned to his table where they took up another, what seemed to be, heated conversation.  I wondered if this was going to get worse, maybe I should flag the manager to get over there, or intervene myself, wasn’t sure what was going on or what to do.  Then it happened, so quickly it took me by surprise as well as a couple of other patrons who had been watching the whole episode play out.  Melissa leaned down and wrapped an arm around his large neck, whispered something in his ear and then gave him a peck on the top of the head.  His demeanor softened as he began nodding as if to agree with what ever she has whispered to him.  Then giving her a pat on the arm she once again left to do her work.  This rather nemesing figure of a man looked at his bill, laid some money on the table, got up and walked out the door.  I must admit I breathed a slight sigh of relief after he left.  When Melissa came over to fill my coffee cup I made reference to all I had seen played out.  “Looks like you had to deal with one with some attitude.”  She countered with, “Oh, he can be a little cantankerous when he hasn’t much sleep but he’s okay.”  That statement told me she knew him, probably as another regular there that I just never seen before.  “Well,” I said, “I was impressed how you handled the situation and got him settled down, didn’t know if I should get and say anything or not.”  Now Melissa had stopped pouring coffee and was looking at me half smiling and half in puzzlement.  “I guess you don’t know, do you?”  Okay, what I get myself into? “Evidently not, know what?”  “THAT’S MY DADDY!”  Her words were a little shocking particularly with the zeal she uttered them, and of course I felt embarrassed so I apologized for my reaction.  “Oh no need for that, a lot of people have made that mistake,” she exclaimed.  Melissa was a very fair skinned girl and her father dark from his obvious Latin roots so I couldn’t see any family resemblance.  “If I may ask Melissa, is he you step-dad.?”  Her answer, “If you’re asking if he’s my biological dad, no, but he’s not my step-dad either, he’s my dad.”  “Oh, you were adopted, like my wife was,” I answered.  Her eyes went toward the ceiling now, but still smiling.  “Well, yes and no I guess.  Let me get caught up and I’ll tell you the story.”  I was actually done with breakfast, but this was one tale I had to stick around to hear.

When Melissa returned she sat down across from me and began.  “When I was born my mom’s situation was kinda like mine, she got pregnant and the boy didn’t want anything more to do with her, or me; I’ve never known my biological father.  Jose came into our lives when I was about 7 years old.  He worked the same place mom did and they struck up a relationship.  He was older and his two kids from a previous marriage were grown.  I wasn’t real thrilled when they married, but he did everything he could to make up to me and become a dad.  He was always there, at school plays, when I was in band for the concerts, when I played soccer, he never missed a thing.  He made mom quit her job because he felt her place was in the home and he would work all he could to support us. There were times he would sit with me when I was sick, even though he had slept hardly in two days, just to make sure I was taken care of.  When I became a teenager we fought like cats and dogs and I once even told him I hated him.  You know what he said with tears in his eyes?  Okay, if that’s the way you want it, but that doesn’t mean I going to stop loving you even a little.”  Now there were tears in her eyes.  “Mom got cancer and died my senior year in high-school.  I remember for days crying in the arms of the only person who ever loved me as much as she did.  After I graduated I made the decision to go by his last name as to identify Jose as my dad.  When the judge asked me why I wanted to change my name I pointed to my dad and said “he wanted me, he’s been there for me no matter what; if that’s not a father, then I don’t know what is.”  Wiping the tears away with a napkin she chuckled and continued, “Now he comes around to see if I’m taking care of myself, and his grandson, sternly lectures me, and then asks if I need anything, same old dad!”  Giving me a pat on the hand she said, “Thanks for listening and caring, gotta get back to work,” and off she went again into her speedy waitress routine.  I was actually glad when she left my table, a couple more minutes and I would have been in tears myself.

All day long I thought about Melissa and Jose and the relation that they had.  I thought about his words, “I’m going to love you no matter what.”  And I thought about her words also, “He wanted me.”  I also thought about my life growing up without a dad and the many others like me who would have loved to have heard those words from a father figure, “I’m going to love you no matter what”  These days I still think about Jose and Melissa occasionally and say to myself, “You are truly two of my heroes.”

Also these days I’ve come more into understanding of the only Father I’ve ever known, that has been there for me even when I haven’t always wanted Him to.  That has chosen to love me, and love you, no matter what.  That says “There nothing you can do to make me stop loving you even a little.”  How do I know this?  He tells me over and over again. Once He was so excited to let me know how much He loves me He put it like this through a brother named Paul.

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

To use Melissa’s words, “If that’s not the love of a Father I don’t know what is!”  He wanted me, just like He wants you, awesome!
Thanks for reading.





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