Kach Wilfred is the middle child and only son in the Wilfred family. Growing up he had to battle his sisters for toys, bathroom time, and attention. Being the only boy, one would think Kach was treated special or even spoiled. Well, think again. Life for Kach was quite the opposite – or at least in his eyes. Whenever his father noticed he was spending a lot of time around his mother and sisters, he’d yell derogatory phrases at Kach like “Get from around there. Do you want to grow up to be a sissy?” and “I guess you’ll be knitting and starting your period too.” Kach felt self-conscious and only hung around his female relatives when his father was not around, which was often. Since Pete Wilfred owned his own business, his time with the family was limited. But he tried to make dinner every night, and have family time after church on Sundays. He kept his word on most occasions, but there were times when he missed a dinner here or there because of something urgent.
Over the years, Kach and Pete had an interestingly strained, but loving relationship. They would go fishing or watch football, but conversations never went deep or personal beyond discussing sports, school, or work. Pete had hopes that Kach would be like him – manly and business-minded. However, Kach was more concerned about girls, latest trends, and being popular. He was far from a stellar student, but got by. When graduation time came around, Peter tried to get Kach involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Kach failed miserably and was ultimately fired by his supervisor. When word got back to his father, he was embarrassed. He had hoped that someday his son would take over the business, but now it was a fleeting dream.
Kach moved out and in with a girl, Carrie, he’d been dating for a few months. Not long after, she became pregnant. They were already surviving on Ramen noodles and junk food. What would they do now with another mouth to feed? Their parents urged them to marry so that the child would be born in wedlock. They argued about how Kach and Carrie needed to find better jobs, but in the end, both sets of parents (with the exception of Pete) purchased all the baby items and spoiled their first grandson. Pete looked at this as yet another failure by Kach, and he felt it every time his father looked at him.
Within the next 3 years, Kach and Carrie married and had 2 more sons. They were both working minimum wage jobs and often relied on family for help. The disappointment of his father often weighed on Kach to the point where he did not think highly of himself. He’d sometimes take it out on Carrie by picking arguments. After awhile, Carrie was tired of constant discord and the effect it had on the boys. She took the kids, and filed for divorce. And even though Pete was not there, Kach could feel the words of his father saying “Strike three. You’re out”. Disappointed at his life and feeling depressed, Kach turned to the bottle to cope.
For the next couple years, Kach would struggle with alcoholism. He’d lose one job after another, and couldn’t keep a steady relationship. As for his sons, he tried to stay away to keep from influencing them in the wrong direction. Carrie tried to give him a kick in the pants about getting over himself and think about the children. Instead this fueled Kach’s thoughts about being a bad son, father, and overall person. He sunk further into depression and secluded himself. Before long, he had become homeless.
Living on the streets wasn’t easy. He’d experience disgust from passersby, unwanted sympathy from strangers, and fights with other homeless individuals for food or a place to lay his head. Some days he’d go to one of the nearby parks thinking about his life and wondering how in the world he got to this point. He’d be awaken from his daydream and told to move on by a park ranger. Kach hated this. If the park was free and open to all, why did he have to leave? It was encounters like these that would make Kach even more cold and hard-hearted.
While walking around the area, he saw a sign….literally. There was a bright yellow billboard with words in black – “Tired of feeling down? Life going nowhere? Wonder why you’re here? Join us for the answers”. Kach didn’t jot down the number because he didn’t have pen or paper, but he did remember the address. Then he told himself that it was probably some scam or wasn’t worth the time. He kept walking around until he got tired. He sat down on an old, plastic crate in one of the alleys. A slight breeze sweep through and with it a bright yellow flyer. On it were the same words that he’d seen on the billboard. Maybe he should take a chance. Afterall, what more did he have to lose?
On the night of the event, Kach made his way to the address. It was an old church that had been turned into a community center. As Kach entered the building, his stomach had butterflies, and he questioned whether he smelled of alcohol. Even though it was no longer a functioning church, Kach still felt a reverent presence. It made the butterflies flutter that much more. At one point he had decided to just leave when a staff member spotted him. “Welcome. We’re glad to have you.”, the lady said as she escorted Kach to the auditorium. He grabbed a seat towards the back to keep from being further noticed and because he was embarrassed by his appearance and smell.
Once the meeting was underway, the speaker (Paul) introduced himself and described the purpose of gathering which was to help others gain control over their lives. He went into his life story describing how he had been abused as a child and resorted to drugs to self-medicate. He went on to add that he had lived in shelters for some time and on the street in others. In one of his drug-induced states, he had murdered a man who was trying to give him a Bible. Paul admitted that he thought the man was trying to harm him and so he retaliated. He was arrested and served time in prison.
During his time there, Paul had an awakening. He attended a service that one of the local outreach ministries held at the prison. The message was about the apostle Paul and how he was originally called Saul. Under his old name he hated Christians and had even murdered. It was not until he was blinded and God restored his sight that he was transformed. This is when he changed from Saul to Paul and became a believer. A light bulb came on. Was it a coincidence? The lesson the speaker (Paul) got from the message was that God can forgive and transform lives for the better. That’s when he made the decision to help others. During his prison time, he helped. After completing his 25 year sentence, he continued in the community to help. He concluded his speech with insight on how he and his group could help those in the audience, but first there had to be a transformation of the mind and a willingness to change.
Kach feeling somewhat moved, but unmoved rose and started walking towards the exit. Paul rushed towards Kach asking why he was leaving. Kach stated that the story was moving and all, but that nothing could help him. Paul beckoned for one of his staff to continue with the meeting. He took Kach into one of the nearby offices to talk. Kach held up his hard demeanor, but Paul was able to crack through by saying “Obviously you want help because you came here. Why not take a chance?”. Kach allowed a slight entrance into his hardcore shell, but made sure the tone of his voice remained solid. For the next 90 minutes, Kach would lay out his life and disappointments while Paul would offer insight, support, and encouragement. As they concluded, Paul urged Kach to continue coming to his meetings and to reach out to his family. Kach made no promises, but thanked Paul all the same.
Walking to his sleeping spot for the night, Kach pondered Paul’s words. He wanted to believe that things could change, but a part of him felt that he would just mess it up. After he fell asleep he saw a vision of himself with his father. His father was smiling at him and then embraced him in a hug. Kach woke up immediately. He looked around, but didn’t see anyone but other homeless individuals. He felt an urging that he should go home. He walked for what seemed like forever. By the time he arrived, it was close to midnight. Just about all the lights were on in the house and several cars were out front, including Carrie’s. Kach’s heart started to leap out of his chest because he knew something had to be wrong. He ran to the door and began to beat on it ferociously. His sister, Felicia, answered. She had tears in her eyes already. At first she didn’t know who it was at the door. Then at second glance she realized it was her little brother Kach. She yelled for the others while Kach stood at the door unsure what to say or do. The rest of the family came peering around the door, but it would be his mother, Sarah, that would pull him into the house and hug him as if he had never left. She revealed to him that Pete had died. Kach fell to his knees, shaking his head with his eyes closed saying “No, no, no!”. His mother tried to comfort him to no avail.
The next morning, Sarah brought towels, wash clothes, and toiletries for Kach’s use. She instructed him to come to the kitchen once he was finished. After his transformation, Kach looked the way he had years ago, however, there was something new beginning to churn inside. As he sat eating like a madman, Sarah slid a sealed envelope across the table towards him. In mid-chew, he noticed it was addressed to him in his father’s handwriting. He stared at it forever before picking it up. When he did, his hands shook. His mother placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and then left the room. Kach slowly opened the envelope, scared of its contents. After unfolding the paper inside he began to read:
I’ve never been the touchy-feely type, but as I get older I realize some mistakes that I’ve made. One that I terribly regret is in how I interacted with you. Instead of being your father, I was a tormentor. When you were born, your mother and I talked about so many hopes and dreams that we had for you. I never thought about the possibility that you could have your own or be anything different than what I envisioned. For that I am sorry. I should have been a guide for you. Someone that you could talk to. I wish everyday that you would come through that door. I want us to be at peace with each other. I don’t know if we’ll ever see each other again, but I wanted to write this letter just in case. I love you son, and I hope you will forgive me.
The remainder of the hard shell that Kach held on to melted away as he finished the letter. He sat staring at the words with tears streaming down his face. After a few moments, he said in a soft whisper, “I forgive you Dad”. While he felt a heavy burden lifted, he was also disappointed about not seeing or hearing his father again. Then he remembered the dream. As he continued to cry, he wrapped his arms around himself and uttered “I love you too”.
XOXO, Melanie DawnnPhoto: Video Film Files Stores
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