From Chicken Soup for the Father & Daughter Soul

How to Trust, Dad-Style

Ithink we may safely trust a good deal more than we do.

Henry David Thoreau

My dad had traveled many miles to visit me in St. Louis from his small town of Braintree, in Essex, England, the town where I was born and raised. It was a backwater market town where the crime of stealing an egg from the supermarket was reported in the local paper.

Dad, recently widowed, stayed a month. I was at work for a couple of those weeks, and he liked to walk my huge golden retriever, Dustin. He had his routine, and I always reminded him to lock all the doors before he left. It was unseasonably hot for October. Dad marveled at the high temperatures and enjoyed the nearby park.

I purposely did not tell him that the two young men next door were troublemakers. They had been known to throw their mother out of the front door, steal her groceries and, after she had forgiven them, come back to borrow money for drugs. I knew a story like that would terrify my gentle dad. Besides, things had been quiet over there lately. If the boys made a ruckus, then I would explain the situation. Dad was already alarmed at the number of sirens screeching by on my street. He was not used to the fast pace of city life.

Usually, upon my return home from my job at the library, Dad made a light supper or “tea” as he called it.

I got home one hot Tuesday, worried that my dad might have gotten overheated on his walk, but, no, he was more cheerful than usual. His eighty-year-old face shone with excitement.

“You’ll never guess what happened to me today,” he said. “It could have been unfortunate, but it worked out well.” I sipped my tea, slipped off my shoes and waited.

“I locked myself out,” he began. “When I got Dustin’s leash, I put the back-door key down on the table and left it.”

“Oh, Dad, you should have called me at the library,” I said.

“Didn’t have a penny with me,” he went on. “I was worried because by the time we got home, Dustin was really thirsty and I was pretty warm myself.”

“Did you pick the lock?” I asked, trying to remain calm. I would have been amazed if he had because it was quite a complicated sort of lock.

“No,” he went on, “those nice young men from next door helped me get in.”

My shock must have been evident on my face. I almost got up from my chair to check the silver and my jewelry box. Dad always left a pile of dollars and coins on the bedroom dresser and that door was wide open. I noticed that the money was still there.

“After we got in, I gave the dog a drink, then I made a pot of tea. Those chaps and I sat and talked for a bit here in the kitchen.”

My dad’s “guests” had never even spoken to me.

“Those boys have had some troubles,” Dad shook his head sadly and sighed. “They sure did help me out with that lock, though.”

I gulped my tea and later found nothing missing from my house. Dad was pleased that he had solved the problem.

The remaining time of Dad’s vacation went quickly. Many times I went out in the yard to watch him chatting with his new friends. His trusting nature had been rewarded. Maybe the boys had reformed.

The locked door wasn’t the only thing opened that day.

Sylvia Duncan

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