Thursday, 22 July 2010
No matter how much one tries, there comes a time when we unwittingly do something that helps someone else in a deception; as Father Ignatius can well relate in this story.
Joanna Hill was a divorced woman of thirty something. She married young and had a son of ten living with her.
Just after her son was born, her husband went away with another woman, and eventually Joanna and Tim divorced in court.
Joanna came to see Father Ignatius with a problem.
“Father … my ex husband Tim has been in touch and he wants us to meet gain. After all these years … I haven’t seen him or spoken to him for ages … he hasn’t kept in touch nor helped with our son’s up-bringing. Now he wants to meet … what do you think I should do?”
“Has he said why he wants to meet?” asked Father Ignatius gently.
“No Father … he wrote a letter saying he lives in Manchester, which is some distance away … and he wants to keep in touch. Be friendly like … I really don’t want him back in my life. But it’s not right to keep our son from him … although it would confuse him to see his father for the first time ever …”
“I understand your difficulty …” said the kind priest, “I suggest that if you were to meet him to take a friend with you. Don’t take your son on the first visit. See how it goes and what Tim wishes to say.
“I also think you should meet him in a public place … a restaurant perhaps.”
“Thank you Father …” Joanna said, and then with hesitation, “the other problem is that Manchester is so far away, it requires two train changes and …”
“I understand …” repeated the priest, knowing full well that she could not possibly afford the train journey to Manchester, “a friend of mine runs a car-hire business, George Lomas, I’ll have a word with him … get in touch with him in a day or so …”
A few weeks later Father Ignatius met Joanna at a coffee meeting in the Parish Center. He sat at her table and asked discreetly about her visit to Manchester.
“Oh it was wonderful Father …” she said, her eyes gleaming brightly at the thought, “I went to see George Lomas as you said …
“He’s such a kind man … I told him my whole story …
“So he suggested that as he was going to Manchester himself that I should go with him.
“We went in a flash car, some kind of limousine or such like posh car. It was chauffeur driven … it was.
“I sat at the back with George, and at the front he had two well-built men in dark suits … they looked like bodyguards, they were so big."
She stopped to catch her breath and sip a little coffee.
“I arranged to meet my ex-husband at a restaurant as you said … I asked him to wait outside.
“I arrived in this posh car … you should have seen me … like a proper lady I was …
“The big man at the front came out and opened the car door for me …
“Then the car drove away with George and the other bodyguard.
“My bodyguard stood politely at a distance whilst I talked to my ex in the street … then he opened the restaurant door for me … we sat at a table and the bodyguard person went to the bar … keeping an eye on us all the time …
“My ex was proper impressed I tell you. He didn’t want anything in particular … he just asked how I was and didn’t even bother to ask about our son, or how he was. Luckily, I didn’t tell our son that I was meeting my ex … I didn’t want to upset him.
“We just had a coffee at the restaurant … which I paid for may I add. And then he said that he had to go … he said he hoped to immigrate either to Canada or Australia … hadn’t made his mind up … and thought he’d see me before he went."
She stopped again for more coffee, and just as Father Ignatius was about to speak, she continued.
“When we finished the bodyguard man phoned somebody and the car arrived without George. We went to pick up George from some business meeting and as he’d finished early he took me round Manchester.
“We went to a lovely exclusive restaurant for a meal … it was ever so lovely. I really enjoyed the day with George.”
“I see …” said the priest pensively, “but your ex-husband must have got the wrong impression surely … seeing you in a chauffeur driven car with an escort …”
“I didn’t give him the wrong impression Father …” she said smiling broadly, “he asked who was the man accompanying me and I said ‘a friend’. Which strictly speaking the bodyguard was!
“He didn’t see George in the car because of the dark windows … but he asked whose car it was … and I said ‘it belonged to a friend’ which is also true.
“He said it was a great looking car and he was happy for me to have such good friends. I bet he was green with envy inside. But I did not lie did I?”
Father Ignatius smiled weakly and said nothing.
“Oh …” she added, “George is such a nice man … thank you for introducing us Father!”