The way home proved to be one passing through streets of color-filled Christmas decorations. I didn’t mind that the road was a little slippery from the pattering rain. I knew that my Margaret was too old for bribes but I didn’t want it in my mind that I have done nothing to fix up what happened between us.
Taking a glance at my gift for her on the passenger seat, -a small ring box wrapped up in the fanciest Christmas wrapper that I could find, fond memories play through my mind and I smile.
It took only a teensy second, but that one second was enough for me to look back on the road and the bright lights to blind me, lights that seemed almost as quick as light. I turned the wheel to the right, but it was too late, and then, darkness took me.
In oblivion, I hear her voice but found myself unable to wake. Unconsciously, memories of the older days warm me. From the time I learned of my sweet Bernadette carrying her, our little Margaret in her womb. When I taught her of riding a bike and how she laughed in delight. And then, the same memories hurt me as they showed me of her growing up, Bernadette dying and me having to work far away. The heated arguments and the distant space that seem to grow larger as years pass by. But then I remember my sorry gift and smile. It might work out after all.
Suddenly, my eyes open and I see her, by my side with eyes full of tears, and her nose, as red as a tomato.
“Margaret, don’t cry.” I say and she sees me. Her eyes, even through the veil of tears seem to dance in sudden relief and joy.
“Papa,” she says, her voice, croaked from crying. I only wish I could wipe them away, and though I try to move my hands, they only disobey and stay limply by my side. “Papa, I’m sorry. Merry Christmas,” she tells me. “I love you.”
I smile, wanting to say it back to her too, yet even breathing turned to gasping and soon, to a sort of choking. In those moments, all I could think of was her. Unlike mothers, fathers are not thought off when they have to work far away. It’s a duty after all, and suddenly, I’m satisfied because I remember the years when I worked far away, and I was sure that she would not be left penniless.
“Papa, I love you.” I hear her say once more, and I think, at that moment how lucky I was to have the best present for Christmas, to have someone say they love you at the end of your life, and the same time, the farewell she does not know she has done. I only wish I could say it back too.