A woman tracked down her father through photographs she had taken and discovered the heartbreaking reason for his homelessness.
Melissa had an interest in photography since she was a child. Her parents, Edward and Amanda, worked at a shop that sold photography equipment, and she used to accompany them to the store every day. She always glanced at the gadgets and fantasized about the day she’d be able to own them as a professional photographer.
However, when she went to the store one day, she noticed her father was nowhere to be found. She asked her mother if something had happened to him and if he would be joining them later at the store, but all Melissa’s mother said was that he would never return.
Melissa was only 12 years old at the time. As she grew older, she discovered her parents had divorced. Her mother soon left her job at the old store to work at an art gallery. Melissa accompanied her mother there every day, and as she grew older, she resolved to become a professional photographer and open her own photo gallery one day.
So after graduating from high school, she didn’t study further and instead began working as a professional photographer. For her upcoming studio, she decided to create a streetlife project depicting the gaps between different sections of society. She decided it would be best done captured in the streets where there are people ranging from the upper class to the homeless.
For ten years, Melissa went to different places to take pictures, sometimes flea markets, and sometimes in random streets.
One day when she was casually looking through her photographs, her gaze was drawn to a homeless man sitting alone on a bench. His face wasn’t clearly visible, but she had the impression she’d seen him before.
The next day, she returned to the same location and was pleasantly surprised to find the man there. She took a close-up shot this time and couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the image for the first time.
She dashed home and dug out her childhood photos with her father. Her mother had thrown out the majority of them, but she had hidden some of them.
When she compared the homeless man in her photographs to her father, she realized the homeless man was none other than her father. She returned to the same location later in the evening, but he had already left by then.
Over the next few days, she visited the place, but he did not appear. Regardless, she went there every day, and on one occasion, when she was just about to leave, he finally showed up.
Melissa ran up to him and greeted him with a warm smile. “Hi! My name is Melissa,” she introduced herself. “Would you like to join me for a quick lunch?”
Edward didn’t say anything; he just gave her a strange look and turned to leave when Melissa grabbed his hand. “I know it’s you, Dad. Do you not recognize me?”
Edward’s expression changed when he looked at her for a moment, but he didn’t say anything.
“Why did you divorce Mom so abruptly, Dad?” Why did you abandon me? I really missed you. Come on, let’s go home,” Melissa said, her eyes welling up.
But all Edward did was give her a cold stare. “I don’t know you, young lady,” he snapped. “Mind your own business,” and pushed Melissa’s hand and walked away. But Melissa didn’t give up.
She continued to pay him visits daily, sometimes with food and sometimes with clothes, even though he never accepted anything from her. And one day, he disappeared again. She looked around the neighborhood and then in an alley where he occasionally slept, but he was nowhere to be found.
Dejected, Melissa was about to leave when she noticed a large crowd forming in front of a store. She dashed over to find out what had happened when she saw Edward lying unconscious.
She immediately dialed 911 and rushed him to the hospital. The doctors said it was a heart attack, and thankfully he was brought to the hospital in time. However, because he was frail and some tests were still needed, the doctors informed Melissa that he would be admitted for a longer period.
Like a dutiful daughter, Melissa looked after her father and visited him every day. He was hesitant to take help from her, but she insisted until he agreed. Over time, he began to feel better.
“Once you recover completely, you would come with me, right?” Melinda asked her father one day.
Edward took a deep breath. “Does your mother know you’ve been visiting me every day and paying for my bills, Melissa?”
“Well, not really, dad, but I’m not leaving until you explain why you abandoned us. When I asked Mom about it, she simply avoided the subject.”
“There’s no need for you to know that. Just leave your contact number and go. I will send you the money through someone. You helped me enough. I don’t want to be a burden anymore.”
“Dad, you’re not a burden!” Melissa gave him a big hug. “I remember how much you cared for us. I’ve never heard or saw mom and you arguing. And that’s why I never understood how you two ended up divorcing.”
Edward’s eyes welled up, and he started crying at this point. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t have a choice, honey. I didn’t want to abandon you, but I was diagnosed with a heart condition that would necessitate costly treatment. Our financial situation was dire. Your mother would have spent all of her savings on me if I had told her. I ran away so you two wouldn’t have to deal with any problems.
“I worked as a driver for a few years and was able to take my medications, but I had to stop working soon after because I needed complete bed rest. And that’s how I ended up on the streets. I was just counting the days until I died, but then you found me.”
When Melissa learned of her father’s condition, she couldn’t stop crying. She dialed Amanda’s number and told her everything that had happened. Amanda was equally shocked as Edward never told her why he divorced her. He had just left her a note and divorce papers and then never came home.
Melissa and Amanda decided to help Edward, and it took them some time, but they managed to pay for Edward’s treatment at the hospital. He finally returned home after the treatment, and their family was reunited after so many years apart.
What can we learn from this story?
- Think twice before you act. Melissa could have hated Edward for abandoning her and Amanda, but she first wanted to learn why he did that. And in the end, she realized her father wasn’t entirely to blame.
- Circumstances sometimes force us to make decisions we don’t want to make. Edward did not want to leave his family, but he had no choice due to their financial problems.