When Peter got home, his father met him at the door. “Where have you been all night? I’ve been worried sick about you! I didn’t want to go to work without making sure you were okay. I was just about to go out looking for you.”
Peter was stunned. This was the first time since Peter’s mother left that his father had taken any interest in him beyond giving him a list of chores to do while he was at work. Peter whispered, “I’m sorry. I didn’t think you’d care.”
“Peter, of course I care. I know I have been hard on you lately, and I’ll admit that sometimes I speak to you gruffly, but…well, son…this may be hard to believe, but I do it because I love you. I want you to be strong and healthy and independent. I don’t want you to have to go through what I’ve gone through with your mother. Just then, the edges of Peter’s father’s mouth turned downwards, and tears fell from his eyes.
For the first time since his mother left, Peter thought about someone besides himself. For the first time, he saw how much pain his father was dealing with, and Peter also now realized how much his father loved him.
“I’m sorry I hurt you. Will you forgive me?” Peter bowed his head in shame.
His father took a few steps toward him and reached out towards Peter. “Come here, son.”
Peter walked up to his Dad and hugged him, then he did something he needed to do for a very long time, he sobbed uncontrollably. All the shame he had from blaming himself for things he had nothing to do with, all the hurt he endured from losing his mother, and the loneliness and bitterness he had from his relationship with his father–all of it, seemingly all at once, came together and tugged at his heart.
Peter’s father held him in his arms for a long time. Finally, Peter leaned back and stood on his own two feet. His father had been holding him up, Peter realized, because he was so shaken up that he did not have the strength to stand. “I love you, Dad,” Peter said with a big grin.
“What do you say to a couple of beers between men?” his dad said with a smile.
“Really?” said Peter.
“Sure, I think you’re ready for the good stuff!”
Peter’s dad opened the fridge and reached all the way to the back, grabbed a couple cans and handed one to Peter.
Suddenly Peter realized he had never seen any beer in the fridge before. How could he have missed them?
Peter looked down at the can in his hand and let out a soft chuckle as he read the letters: “A&W”.
“Thanks, Dad.” Peter smiled.