Family Is Where The Heart Is

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Rebecca’s step-mom walked into the room where she found Rebecca intensely analyzing her old, worn photo albums yet again. She felt a moment of hesitation, but then decided to ask, “Are you all ready to leave honey? The reservation is for 7:00… and that’s in 15 minutes. We better go ahead and get going if we want to make it there in time.”

Rebecca looked up as if she was caught by surprise. She got along pretty well with her, besides that she was always so concerned about every single thing that there was to worry about. Rebecca was more of the go with the flow sort of girl. After a few moments of silent eye contact, she answered, “Sure,” and closed the books. “I’ll be down in a few.” Her step-mother gave her a soft smile and left the room without another word.

That was the evening of Rebecca’s sixteenth birthday and she was going out to a nice dinner with her family at a nearby steak house called Al’s. Her family had a tradition of eating there for her birthday every year. She grabbed her purse and began to head down the stairs to the living room where her family waited. As she was making her way out of her bedroom, she caught a slight glimpse of herself in the mirror.

On her way down the stairs, Rebecca couldn’t help thinking about how closely she resembled her mother. They both had the same mischievous, bright blue eyes, oval-shaped face and a kind smile with full lips.

“Oh look how absolutely gorgeous you are!” 

Rebecca laughed quietly to herself as she felt her cheeks redden. She was wearing the black dress that her father had gotten for her and left hanging in her bedroom that morning. “Why, thank you kind sir!” She giggled and then continued walking to the door to hug him close. “Thank you, Dad,” she whispered with a sincere smile on her face.

“Hold on! Let me get a picture of you two! This is way too adorable!” Rebecca’s step mom exclaimed.

Rebecca let go of her dad and stood beside him for the picture. She smiled absent-mindedly and looked up at the camera that her step-mom held, for she had many other things on her mind at that moment.

She had been thinking about her biological mother a lot recently. She only had one picture and didn’t really know too much about her. When Rebecca was much younger, she would just make up stories about her real mom. She would tell herself that her mom was the queen of a faraway land, where nobody knew her because she was so busy. Now that she wasn’t a young child anymore, Rebecca had better reasoning and realized that there was no possible way that could have been remotely true. She longed to know what her mom was like. She wanted to see her face, know about her childhood, and know about her now… Did she have a new family? Where did she work? She wondered to herself.

“Alright, let’s go kiddo,” her dad said with a curious expression on his face as he watched her standing still and gazing off into nowhere. He followed her and locked the front door of the house on his way out. Rebecca’s step-mom was starting the car, but her dad called Rebecca’s name. She turned around and walked up to her father.


“Are you alright? You seemed liked you were concentrating on something pretty hard back there. Does it have to do with… you know… who we talked about earlier?”

Rebecca was very surprised! Usually her father didn’t bring up things involving her mother, but he was and she knew she had to talk about it sooner or later if she wanted to know more. “Well, yes. But we can talk about it after dinner if you want. Let’s just go ahead and get in the car.” She turned back around and walked swiftly to their car, pulled opened the door and got in.

After dinner, when they were back at the house, Rebecca’s dad rapped his knuckles on her bedroom door. “Can I come in?”

“Sure,” she closed her books again and sat up on her bed.

          “So, I know we talked the other day about how you’re wondering about your… mother and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I’m here to tell you something that you might be excited about.” Rebecca looked at her father with furrowed eyebrows as she wondered what he was about to say. “What if I told you that I think it’s time you’ve met her?” He studied Rebecca’s stunned face and then quickly added, “I mean we don’t have to, it was just a thought. You are old enough now and you might be able to understand more about the situation.”

Rebecca then wondered if anyone even really understood the ‘situation’, including her father. Her mother had picked up all her belongings one day and just left her and her father when she was only five years old. She had never called, or made any other form of contact with Rebecca. Rebecca sometimes even wondered if she was alive. Rebecca nodded her head and said, “I think that I’m ready, too.”

“Ok. It sounds like a plan. I guess I’ll see if I can get a hold of her or someone who may know a way to find her,” he said with what seemed no emotion at all. Rebecca knew that her father probably wasn’t too thrilled about this, but it was happening. “Then I’ll go ahead and get the trip organized.” Her father stood up and walked out of her bedroom without looking back at her.

Rebecca, suddenly got butterflies in her stomach. What if her mom wanted to see her again? What if she didn’t even want anything to do with her? She had no idea what to expect. This trip was going to be one great, big surprise of its own.

Three days later, Rebecca’s dad told her that he had managed to talk to some people and found out her mom lived in New York City. He also mentioned that he had gotten two plane tickets for that weekend. They planned to fly out of the airport on Friday and the flight would take about four hours from Nevada to New York. They were set to return home on Monday with who knew what kind of experience.

On Friday morning, Rebecca woke up at exactly 6:00 am to get ready for her big journey. It was going to be a big event that would occur in her life and she knew it. She double checked to make sure that her bag had everything she would need for the weekend. When she realized that she was all ready, she did some more thinking. Maybe she wasn’t as emotionally ready as she was physically, but she knew that there was no turning back. Deep down inside she knew that she had to see her real mother.

Rebecca and her father boarded the airplane and found their assigned seats that were printed on the tickets. When they sat down, her father looked to the right to see how Rebecca was doing. She looked sort of nervous so he placed his hand on her knee and smiled at her as she looked up. “It’s going to be alright. We can do other things while we’re there if you want to. This doesn’t have to be all emotional the whole time. There’re plenty of other fun things that we can go do in the city.”

“Alright. I think that I’m gonna take a nap on the flight.”

Once they arrived in New York City, they took a taxi to their hotel. After they’d settled into their room and had their luggage put away, Rebecca’s father asked her to have a seat. They both sat down on one of the beds and Rebecca asked, “So what’s the plan, Pops?”

“I don’t have an actual phone number to reach your mother on, but I do know where she works and we can go over there and see if she’s there. How does that sound to you?”

“Ok, let’s go then.”

They hopped in another cab and her dad told the driver the address of their destination. Rebecca questioned, “What exactly does she do? You know, as a job?”

“I heard that she’s actually some type of high-class fashion designer now,” he said as he looked out of his window. He hadn’t made eye contact with her since they were inside. She suspected that he was probably just as nervous as she was.

“Oh…” That was really all she had to say then. She figured she had a few minutes before they got there so she did some more thinking. She was wondering how she would introduce herself, what her reaction would be when she did and then where the conversation would go from there. She also wondered if she was even going to meet her today. Absolutely anything was possible at that very moment in time.

The car pulled up to a very tall building. There was a large sign above the doors that read, Rockford Designs and Co.; written in some elaborate font. The people walking in and out of the building looked so professional — so the first thing that she thought was that her mother was a proper business woman. That was a good thing compared to the other possibilities that had popped up into her head in the past.

Her father paid the cab driver and then they made their way into the building. They walked through the doors and then she followed her dad from there. He approached what seemed to be a front desk where a few women sat working away on their computers. “Um, excuse me miss,” he said to one of them. “Is there any possible way that we could speak to a Ms. Rockford?”

“Well, let’s go ahead and see if you can. It’s very hard to reach Mrs. Rockford since she’s a very busy working woman. Did you make an appointment with her?” The woman had a snappy attitude.

“Uh… well no… not exactly, but is there anyway that you think you could get a hold of her and tell her that Mr. Michelson is here with his daughter? It has been a while since we’ve spoken, but I can guarantee you that she knows me. Please, this is very important to my daughter and I at this moment.”

The woman gave him a questioning look, picked the phone up off of its cradle and began dialing some numbers. “Hi,” she said with a monotone voice. “Can you let Mrs. Rockford know that she has someone… actually, two people here to see her? They say that it’s important.” She paused for a moment, listened and then replied, “Mr. Michelson. Oh, and his teenage daughter,” she said with a sneer.

The fact that this woman didn’t have the best attitude was making Rebecca just that much more nervous, but before she knew it, the receptionist hung up her phone and started to tell her dad something. “Well, I guess that you can go ahead and go up to the 22nd floor where you will wait for her to be available. Don’t be too impatient because she’s in a very important meeting right now, but should be out soon enough. I’ll write you a pass so you can go up through the elevator.” She looked at us as if we were in some way of a lower class than she, looked down and then scrawled out a short message on some fancy stationery. “Here,” she handed it to my father and then went back to whatever she had been previously doing on her computer.

Mr. Michelson led Rebecca to the elevators in complete silence until they got there where he said, “Well, are you ready? I was thinking that I’d linger around in the waiting room or something while you spoke with her. I could walk you in if you’d like?”
“That sounds good, but I’ll just walk myself into her office when it’s time.” Rebecca always sounded so calm and cool when she was talking, but right then, she had a stomach full of butterflies. She still had all those questions running through her head: some of them sensible, but others were just crazy.

The elevator chimed, signaling that it was arriving and they should get in. They both stepped in with what seemed at least ten other people. Rebecca squeezed through to the panel and pushed the button labeled, “22.”

The elevator began to rise as well as her anxiety. First they went to floor 3, then 6, 8, 9, 13, 17, 18, 20, and then they were there… floor 22. Her heart skipped a beat as they stepped out. Let alone the fact that she was going to meet the woman who gave her the gift of life soon, she had all the reason to be jumpy.

They walked over to a woman who looked like some sort of receptionist and that time, Rebecca asked, “Excuse miss, could you possibly tell me where I could wait to see… Mrs. Rockford?”

“Sure thing!” This woman was already much nicer than the one that greeted them in the beginning. “Go ahead and head down this hall and take a left and go all the way to the end where you’ll see a fairly big office. Feel free to have a seat in the chairs by the doors while you wait.”

Rebecca thanked the woman and then they left to go wait for an unknown amount of time. Mr. Michelson put his arm around his daughter as they walked to her office. “Thank you, Dad. I know this is kind of crazy for both of us and I want you to know that I really appreciate you for doing it for me.”

Her dad smiled down at her and gave her shoulder a squeeze. They’d arrived at her office and once they realized it, sat down and began their wait. He picked up a magazine and Rebecca just sat still and looked around at her surroundings.

It was only a mere ten minutes or so before they heard a woman’s voice getting closer from in the hallway. Her father turned around while she sat completely frozen with panic.

He stood up and said, “Well, hello, Joanna.”

The woman turned around and just looked expressionless. “H-hello, Liam. What are you doing here? It’s been so long.”

“Yes it’s been about ten years since you left I suppose. I’m not here for myself, but rather Rebecca… .Our daughter.”

Joanna took a step forward and stared at Rebecca. Rebecca stared back unsure of what else she was to do.

Her mother took yet another step forward and greeted, “Hi there, Rebecca,” and held out her hand.

Rebecca took her hand and gave it a firm shake, but continued to focus on the unfamiliar woman. She was the most beautiful woman that she’d ever seen. And from what her dad had told her and what she was seeing then, they looked a lot alike.
“This is such a big… great surprise,” Joanna said. She was grasping for any choice of words she had herself. I really would love to talk to you. Why don’t we all do lunch tomorrow? I’ll send a driver over to wherever you’re staying and have you taken to Linguini’s. I wish I could talk to you right this moment, but I have so much to do.”
“Oh! It’s fine! You must have had so much more to do when you left us too!” Rebecca’s dad was about to lose his temper.

“That’d be perfect!” Rebecca intervened. We’re staying at The Hilton. What time?” Those words had flown out of her mouth and she had no idea where they came from because she was speechless.

“How about we do, 2:30?”

“Ok. I… uh…I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Rebecca practically darted to the elevators with unease and anxiousness. She was actually going to spend time with her mom. Her real mom. Tomorrow.

The next day, Rebecca woke herself up fairly early to shower, get dressed, do her hair, makeup and everything else to make herself presentable. She woke her dad up when she was done, which only happened to be 9:00 am. “Dad, why don’t we go for a walk before? We could just scope out the city, you know?”

They left the hotel at noon and walked around New York City to do the touristy things that everyone does. They took lots of pictures and bought t-shirts with The Statue of Liberty on them. Rebecca thought that the trip should at least have some fun involving both of them.

Before they knew it, it was almost 2:00. “Man, time does really fly when you’re having fun doesn’t it?” he asked.

Rebecca was outside of the hotel waiting for the car at 2:20 full of exhilaration. Soon after, a very nice, expensive looking black car pulled up right on the dot of 2:30. She turned around and looked at her dad. He had a worried sort of look on his face, but she was so caught up in her own priorities that she gave him a quick hug and then screamed, “Bye” as she got into the car.

The driver of the car even looked fancy. He greeted her with a warm smile, but she could tell that it was fake. That man was probably paid everyday to drive around all sorts of different people. She smiled back and then buckled herself in.

“So, we’re off to Linguini’s then?”

“Yes, sir. I’m meeting someone there for lunch.” Rebecca was having all kinds of thoughts pass through her mind. When she’d met her mother that day before, it felt like a dream. She could recall her face right on point and remembered every single thing that was said. She already thought that she was perfect, even if she wasn’t there for her in the beginning. She was there now.

Before Rebecca could even have time to think about what she would say to her, they had arrived and the driver was opening her door. “Thank you,” she said as she stepped out of the car. She stared up at the sign and then proceeded inside of the restaurant without a second thought. She went through the doors and looked everywhere for the beautiful woman. She looked left, then right, and then decided to ask someone. “Hi, I’m supposed to be meeting someone here for lunch. Can you tell me if Mrs. Rockford is here yet?”
The waitress stopped abruptly where she was because she recognized Joanna’s face… or so she thought. She replied, “She does have a reservation for 2:45 but hasn’t arrived yet. You can follow me though and I’ll seat you while you wait.”

Rebecca nodded her head, followed the young woman and then plopped down in her seat. “Thanks.” The waitress nodded her head and then left. The restaurant was crammed with people. That made her wonder if the woman knew for sure if her mom was there or not, so she looked around again. Nope. There was no sign of her anywhere. She sipped her water and used her phone to pass the time.

Once 3:15 came around, she felt like something was wrong. Rebecca sent a text message to her dad to let him know that she was still waiting and her mother hadn’t even arrived yet. She waited for about twenty more minutes and her dad still hadn’t answered. Rebecca had been waiting for almost an hour. Nobody that was planning on showing up would have been that late. She felt betrayed and abandoned yet once again by the same woman.

Rebecca couldn’t help but burst out of the restaurant in full tears. She had gone through all of that trouble to try to get to know someone who obviously didn’t even want to know her. She could see it now.

Rebecca hailed down a taxi, hopped in and gave the man the hotel. She was there within five minutes. As they came to a stop, she slapped a ten dollar bill in his hand and ran inside of the hotel with tears still streaming down her red cheeks and with the room key in her hand so she ran as fast as she could. She got into an elevator and it it felt as if it took years before she reached her floor. When she finally did, she darted down the hall until she saw her room number. She fumbled with the key, but eventually unlocked the door, ran inside and threw herself on her bed. “How could I have been so stupid?! Why would I ever think that she would love me or care about me!?” Rebecca’s screams were muffled by the pillows and the tears that flooded her eyes.

She heard her phone go off and then realized that she didn’t even know where her dad was. She went to check the message and saw that her dad was at the bar downstairs. She should have known that it was going to be hard for him. She was being impatient and selfish while not thinking of her own father’s feelings. He had been the man who had raised her and she knew it wasn’t easy. She couldn’t even imagine his pain.

She rushed back down the lobby and made her way to the bar from there. She found her dad as soon as she got there she sat down next to him. He looked over at her and realized that it hadn’t gone as planned. He just had a feeling so he put his arm around her and pulled her closer. Rebecca let out a sob and then broke down all over again from there.

Rebecca and her father went out to dinner that night and didn’t say one word about her mom. They still had one day before they had to leave so they wanted to make the best of it, just the two of them.

On Sunday, they walked all around the city. They went shopping, ate all sorts of food, took more pictures and just had a great time overall. They weren’t going to let someone ruin their special time that they had together. After the long day, Rebecca realized that family isn’t just someone who you’re related to, but family is where the heart is and that’s home.


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