"We found your Dad. He's barely alive. Come quick."
That was the note I received while traveling across Europe. My Dad has been thought dead for sixteen years. How was I supposed to react to a note like this? Was it even real?
I would have called my mother to confirm but she passed away the year before after battling with cancer. I was left to decide on my own.
After some deliberation I decided that heading back and at least checking out where the note came from would be a good idea.
I didn't think anyone would use my father against me but I knew that I had to be a little bit cautious.
I booked the next flight out to Indiana as soon as I could and before the day was over, I was flying over the Atlantic.
I knew it was going to be a long flight but I couldn't sleep even a little bit. All I did was fiddle with the edges of the note, tearing at the edges little by little.
After two connecting flights and a slight delay I found myself in Indiana with the hope that my dad, if it was really him, was alive and holding on.
I walked into the small clinic where the note came from and went straight for the reception desk. "I'm here for Rick Williams," I said frantically. The clinic was shabby at best. It looked like it was built decades ago and no one had bothered to fix it up. "Sit down," the man at the desk told me. He didn't look pleased that I was there at all.
I was tempted to show him my note to show him how serious it was but I knew that that would probably end in me waiting even longer. So, I sat down in one of the chairs and started my wait.
It wasn't until an hour and a half passed by when I had had enough. I stood from my seat and walked over to the receptionist's desk again. "Sir, I know you're probably really busy with all these other patients," I waved my hand to the empty chairs behind me, "but I got a note explaining that my father was found and that he's barely alive. I came as quickly as I could."
The man looked at him before typing something into his computer. "Eric Williams?" "That's me," I confirmed as I leaned against the desk. "Is my father here?" He stood suddenly and went to the door. "This way," he said.
I followed him into the back and to a room that had a whiteboard next to it with my father's name written on it. I stepped inside, preparing myself to see my father after so long.
When I moved around the back curtain, I saw a man lying in the bed. A frown came over my face and I looked at the receptionist.
"Is this some kind of joke?" I asked.
"What are you talking about sir?" he asked. "That's not my father." I pointed to the man. He was small, beaten, fragile looking even. He looked nothing like the man I had grown up knowing.
The old man opened his eyes and looked at me. "Eric?"
I shook my head. He was not my father. "Next time you want to play a cruel trick on someone try not using their dead father against them," I snapped.
I turned as quickly as I could and ran out of the room. I didn't stop even when I heard the frail old man calling for me.