I have not seen my dad for most of my life. He left my mom and me when I was a teenager and never..

When my estranged father, who left 20 years ago, called from his deathbed, I was torn between anger and curiosity. His final wish revealed shocking truths. I was getting ready for bed when an unfamiliar number called, followed by a text: “ALICE, THIS IS YOUR DAD. PLEASE CALL, I AM IN THE HOSPITAL.” My heart stopped. Dad? After twenty years? Curiosity won, and I called back. “Dad?” “Alice, it’s me. I… I don’t have much time.” “Why are you calling now?” “I need to explain… to ask something of you. But please, don’t tell your mother.” He revealed that my grandfather paid him to disappear because he thought Dad was a failure. “I took the money to secure your future.”

“Why didn’t you come back?” “I couldn’t. But I watched from a distance, saw your graduation, your volleyball games.” I felt my world tilt. “Why didn’t Mom tell me?” “Maybe she thought she was protecting you.” “What do you want now?” “I need to see you, Alice. One last time before I go.” I decided to go. At the hospital, he looked frail. “Alice,” he whispered. “Why did you do it, Dad?” “I thought it was the best way to secure a future for you. I wrote letters every year. They’re in a safety deposit box.” After his death, I found the letters. They were filled with his regrets and love. I confronted Mom, who admitted she thought it was best for me too. In the end, I used the money to start a scholarship fund in his name, honoring his memory and sacrifices.