Josephine had never hated her father, a famous 56-year-old surgeon, but that day she felt much the same way. Ben had invited the head doctor, his wife and son to dinner, and his intentions were obvious.
Ben was a widower and had raised Josephine alone after the death of his wife. He had always given the best to his daughter and now he wanted to find her a suitable mate, someone of good socioeconomic standing who could give her a good life.
But Josephine didn’t think so. The last thing she wanted was for her father to choose her fiancé. So when Ben told her about the dinner plans and insisted on her presence, she was furious…..
«Buy yourself a lovely outfit, honey. Derek and his family are coming tonight, and I want you to look gorgeous,» he told her as he set the credit card on the nightstand.
«I have plenty of clothes, Daddy!» spat Josephine, her eyes glued to the phone. «Besides, I don’t need your money.»
«I want my daughter to look her best tonight,» Ben said, smiling. «Come on, a famous surgeon’s daughter going out dressed like a freak is not cool!».
Josephine rolled her eyes and looked at her father.
«Why are you acting like this just because three people are coming over for dinner, doesn’t that seem a little excessive, Dad?»
«Well, it’s just a matter of time before we become close,» Ben joked. «Don’t be such a killjoy! Go on, buy yourself a lovely dress, will you?» he added, patting the credit card.
Josephine didn’t buy the dress, nor did she answer the doorbell later that day when Derek and his family arrived at her house.
«Honey, can you open the door?» asked Ben.
He got no answer.
» Josephine?» he called again.
There was no answer.
Finally, Ben opened the door and had to apologize for keeping the guests waiting.
«I guess she didn’t hear the doorbell. She won’t be here long. I’ll go check on her,» he said as he climbed the stairs to Josephine’s room.
Ben knocked on her door.
«Are you ready, honey?» he asked quietly. «They’re all here.»
There was no answer.
Ben turned the doorknob, but the door was locked from the inside. He couldn’t yell for Josephine to open the door because guests were waiting downstairs. He called her on the phone, but she didn’t answer.
«What is it, Josephine? Open the damn door!» he texted, pacing nervously at her door. Seconds later, his phone beeped in reply.
«I’ll be down in ten minutes, Dad. Please calm down and stop banging on my door.»
Minutes later, Josephine appeared in the living room, and Ben was startled. She was wearing a torn, baggy top and jeans, something one would never wear to dinner with complete strangers. Derek and his family were stunned.
«Excuse us. We’ll be right back,» Ben said, hiding his embarrassment as he pulled her aside.
«What the hell is wrong with you, Josephine, why are you dressed like that?» he asked angrily.
«I can dress however I want, Dad!» she retorted. «Stop controlling my life! I know why you invited your so-called friend. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin your dinner plans. But I’m not going to act like I’m happy. I hate what you’re doing.»
All through dinner, Ben insisted that Derek and Josephine were a fantastic couple, a perfect match. But his daughter was tired of the awkward conversation, so she got up abruptly and left as dinner was about to end, saying she had other plans.
Ben had never felt so humiliated. He couldn’t believe his daughter had left without even saying goodbye to the guests. He didn’t go to bed that night until Josephine returned home.
«For God’s sake, where have you been, Josephine? It’s after midnight!» he frowned as she entered.
«Don’t be like that, Dad!» she spat. «I was at a shelter. I had an event tonight. I still made time for your stupid dinner.»
«You were at that homeless shelter — AGAIN?»
«Dad, stop it!» she yelled. «I’m not a child! I’m 24 and I don’t need your permission to go out or date.»
«Oil and water don’t mix, honey! I invited Derek’s family because I want you to marry someone who makes you happy and doesn’t want you to keep him! Tell me you’re not going out with a deadbeat.»
«Wow!» sighed Josephine. «Dad, you know what, money isn’t the only thing that matters! So let’s stop this conversation right here! !» she hissed as she disappeared towards her room.
From then on, things only got worse for Ben and Joséphine. The next night, he waited for her to return home and paced anxiously in front of the living room window, which overlooked the main street.
Every night he saw Josephine come home from there.
That day, however, she didn’t arrive until two in the morning. As soon as she walked in, Ben started asking her why she was late, and she lost her cool.
She told him she was volunteering at the homeless shelter and then had gone on a date with her boyfriend.
«And Dad, he’s the best guy I’ve ever met. He doesn’t have a lot of money, but he has a heart of gold! And before you start telling me he doesn’t deserve me and all that, I’m going to my room.»
«I’m not done talking yet,» her father said quietly, and she stopped dead in her tracks.
«If you stay in my house, you follow my rules, or you can leave!».
Josephine was taken aback.
«You’ve got to be kidding, Dad!».
«I mean it!» he declared, «And that’s my last word.»
An hour later, Josephine had packed up her things. Ben didn’t realize that until, the next morning, he went to see her and saw a note on her nightstand telling him she was leaving for good.
Ben called her several times, but each time it went to voicemail. She didn’t respond to his messages either. He couldn’t believe his daughter was gone. He couldn’t even call the police because, technically, she wasn’t missing.
Then Ben thought of the homeless shelter, the Oak Home! Josephine had told him she volunteered there and would certainly visit that shelter.
So the next evening, Ben parked the car near the homeless shelter and waited for Josephine. Around seven o’clock, he saw her enter the premises. He had been waiting for about two hours when his daughter came out of the shelter and disappeared across the street.
He wanted to follow her right away, but feared she would notice his car, so he waited a few minutes before starting the car and gripping the steering wheel tightly.
He moved forward on the street and pulled into the road across the shelter. He was so focused on making sure he didn’t lose sight of his daughter that he didn’t notice the homeless man who appeared in front of his car from the side alley.
A loud bang was heard as the man’s body hit his car. The homeless man’s guitar case flew far away during the crash, and Ben panicked.
«No, no!» he shouted as he ran out to the man. He found him unconscious and bleeding.
«GOD, NO! What have I done?!» he exclaimed.
Ben was so terrified that he could think of nothing else but to rush the injured man to the hospital. He helped the bedraggled man into his car and drove as fast as he could.
When they arrived at the hospital, the homeless man was rushed into the operating room for surgery, and Ben’s heart raced, hoping that the man’s condition would soon stabilize.
The door to the operating room opened a few hours later, after what seemed like an eternity to Ben. He sighed in relief when the doctors told him the man was doing well and would soon be moved to the general ward.
«Thank you very much, doctor,» Ben said to his colleague. «Can I go check on him?»
When the doctors said he was fine, Ben went to see him. The injured man was lying on the bed with IVs in his arm. He approached the bed when he suddenly became speechless, staring at the homeless man’s tattoo. The man opened his eyes.
«What the hell is that? That… That tattoo!» cried Ben. «Why do you have that face tattooed on your arm?».
The man smiled weakly.
«That’s my girlfriend and future wife,» the man said. «I love her more than anything in the world. She’s beautiful, isn’t she?»
Ben was dumbfounded and couldn’t believe that this homeless, scruffy looking man was his daughter’s boyfriend. Nor was he prepared for the information the man revealed next.
«Thank you for saving my life and bringing me here,» the man added. «I’m Connor. You not only saved my life, but also my girlfriend and our unborn daughter. They would be devastated if something horrible happened to me…».
«I’m so sorry,» Ben said meekly. «It was my fault; I didn’t see you coming and accidentally bumped into you. I’m relieved nothing horrible happened. But that woman…» he paused.
«Don’t mind me, young man, but my hair didn’t turn silver overnight. Starting a family is no joke. And you say you love her? Does she feel the same way? Will you have a daughter?»
The man smiled.
«I know you’re just worried. You’re probably wondering how a scruffy man like me can provide for his family. Since you’re my savior, I’ll let you in on a little secret,» he said.
«I recently bought a little house for my future wife and our daughter. I didn’t have a house, but now we are in a lovely little apartment…».
«On the tattoo you can see my girlfriend’s name — Josephine. She inspires me to keep going. I am a street musician and I play for a living. I’ve gone hungry to buy a guitar. I’ve played in the subway, on the street and just about anywhere you can think of.»
«And that’s how I was able to afford the house. Not that I’m complaining, but it was hard work. And that’s okay, because nothing matters more to me than my family. I was even thinking of taking another job as a bricklayer or something, but you know, not everybody appreciates a scruffy man.»
«Your girlfriend sounds like a lucky girl…,» Ben replied, fighting back tears. «I’ll make it up to you about the guitar! It was my fault.»
«I appreciate that. But I’m the lucky one,» Connor said. «Josephine has been through a lot. She wanted to be a musician, but she couldn’t because her father didn’t support her and she lost her mother when she was young.»
«She has to juggle between her college career and her passion. So all I want to do is be there for her and make her happy. I would say…»
Before Connor could finish, his phone started ringing. Josephine was calling him.
«Excuse me, I have to take this. My girlfriend,» she said.
Ben walked out of Connor’s room and sank into one of the waiting chairs in the hallway. Indeed, Connor had a heart of gold, and Josephine was pregnant.
He realized that he had been so strict with his daughter that she had not shared with him the most beautiful part of her life: he was going to be a grandfather! Instead of making his daughter happy, he realized he had pushed her away.
So, when Josephine ran into him at the hospital after Connor told her what had happened, Ben had already decided to make amends.
«I know everything,» he said, taking both of their hands. «Now that Connor knows I’m your father, I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through because of me. All I want is for you to be happy, and I’m willing to help you until Connor recovers.»
But Josephine pulled her hand away.
«Like I told you before, I don’t need your money, Dad. I have a home, and I’m never coming back to your house!».
Things didn’t improve between Ben and Josephine. Would his daughter ever forgive him?
He wasn’t about to give up so soon. He visited them a few days later, and the parents-to-be were surprised to see him arrive in a truck with a dozen guys unloading baby items: cribs, toys, and supplies.
«Dad, what are you doing?» asked Josephine irritably, approaching him. «I don’t…»
Josephine couldn’t finish her sentence. Ben hugged her as tears welled up in his eyes.
«Please,» he said. «I don’t have a dozen daughters. As a father and grandfather, I want to. I know Connor will always make you happy, but I want to be a part of my granddaughter’s life.»
«I’m sorry, sweetheart. Please forgive me…».
Time passed and things changed. Connor was hired as a music teacher at a school. He and Josephine decided to keep their love of music alive by performing as musicians at a neighborhood coffee shop in the evenings.
Ben changed more than his daughter could ever have imagined, and he apologized for not listening to her and forcing her to follow in his footsteps. Josephine did not give up on her medical career and upon graduation opened clinics to help the homeless so they would have access to free health care.
They had a beautiful baby girl they named Lily. When Ben went to congratulate his daughter and son-in-law, the young couple gasped.
«Dad, what have you done?» exclaimed Josephine.
Ben had a small lily tattooed on his arm. The once conservative father had transformed into a dedicated and loving grandfather.