A Meditation on the Gifts of Three Fathers (Updated)

Grumpa Dec 26, 2021

A package arrives at a modest, yet peculiarly stylish, home in Savannah, Georgia. It's huge; the box I mean. Bigger than a breadbox, but smaller than a new dishwasher. It's addressed simply to Brienne Walsh and the return address reads Stephen Walsh – Chappaqua, New York.

"Only some of them were straight up criminals. Even fewer were so evil that they would do just about anything, trade anyone, even their own daughter, to keep the world from knowing it."

The box is a question, but not a mystery. Brie hasn't heard from her father or mother in nearly a year...more than a year? He brother Brendon called to let her know, that he wasn't allowed to speak with her at one point. But, after the ignored birthdays of her children and the passing of her grandmother without invitation to the funeral, Brie and Caleb had just moved on.

The box was a time-machine,  a black hole that pulled at Brie. She knew it wasn't an attempt at reconciliation. A psychological bear trap, more likely, like the one that took her 30 years to escape no doubt. ”I don't want to open it," said Brie to her husband Caleb.

“Ok,” he said stepping away from their two children. It took him a moment to remove the tape and other packaging materials to reveal the box’s contents. Even then long seconds ticked by before he realized what he was looking at . "It's your wedding dress," he said.

There was no note, but the message hit Brie with the subtlety of a tired boxer. The wedding dress was both the last of Brie's things from the Walsh family estate in Chappaqua and a reminder of the money her father had spent on their wedding. It was the period on the end of a terribly boring run on sentence. She and her blog were to blame for his misfortune, not him. It was her writing, not his crimes or alcoholism or failure to protect the family from their abusive mother. Brie shared family secrets and now she was out.

In the 80s, after the SEC and Judicial Department brought down Steve Walsh's firm, he didn't blame himself either. It was those rich people that did it, he told his daughter. You don't want to be like THEM," he lectured.

But he was them. There were no mustached bad guys at Drexel. Everyone wore a suit and said exactly the right things in the practiced manner demanded by polite society. They kept beautiful families in beautiful homes. Only some of them were straight up criminals. Even fewer were so evil that they would do just about anything, trade anyone, even their own daughter, to keep the world from knowing it.

Brie turns to her own children and then to their father Caleb. He is a good man and good father for some reasons well-understood and others that become clearer each day. She looks back at her wedding dress and lets out the breath she’s been holding and smiles.

Sometime later, Caleb receives an email from Evie’s dad. Steve Walsh hasn’t allowed him to see his daughter in over a year. On Evie’s birthday, he hadn’t even permitted him to speak to her on the phone. He would allow no contact while this “court stuff” was going on. Steve Walsh’s grievances against Evie’s dad weren’t all that different from those he had against Brie; and his prescription was the same. Accept Maura Walsh’s diagnosis, take your medicine and be grateful that he and Maura were “taking care” of things. Give up. Give in.

Reading the email it seemed like that might have happened. Evie’s Dad would agree to pull out of the battery and kidnapping cases against Tara and Maura in SF and stop cooperating with Police. He would accept whatever diagnosis Maura Walsh wished and enter whatever treatment they demanded of him. He asked  only that Evie be allowed to be raised by both of her parents. “I can get on a plane and bring Evie her Christmas presents in person, he wrote. “Can you think of a better gift you could give Evie than her father?”

There is no response. Again no note, but the message was clear. Merry Christmas.

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©️ Stevie ♥︎ Evie 2021 (All Rights Reserved)

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