“Mr. Walton, I saw Susan,” the pastor said quietly, and Steve’s heart nearly stopped. His only daughter had left his house nearly fifteen years before, never to be seen again…

A woman who was kicked out by her rich father at sixteen for taking up with a poor man ends up living on the streets with her four children after her husband died.

Steve Walton was far from thrilled when his butler told him that Pastor Morris was waiting to see him. He was tired after a long flight from Singapore and in no mood for the man’s lectures or pleas for support for the community.

He had the pastor shown in and waved an impatient hand at his greeting. “Get on with it, man!” he snapped. “What is it that you want this time?”

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

“Mr. Walton, I saw Susan,” the pastor said quietly, and Steve’s heart nearly stopped. His only daughter had left his house nearly fifteen years before, never to be seen again…

“Susan?” Steve cried anxiously. “Where? When? How is she?”

“I was in Los Angeles, helping out a friend who has a mission among the homeless and that’s where I saw her,” the pastor said.

“She was a volunteer? Did you tell her I’ve been looking for her?” asked Steve.

“No,” Pastor Morris said gently. “She wasn’t a volunteer, Mr. Walton. She’s homeless. She and her children are living in a car.”

Steve found himself so dizzy he had to sit down. “Homeless? My Susan? Children?” he gasped.

“I’m afraid so,” the pastor said. “And she wouldn’t even listen to me when I told her to come home.”

“But why?” asked Steve angrily. “She’s not with that loser anymore, is she?”

“Her husband passed away three years ago, Mr. Walton,” the pastor explained. “And she told me she wouldn’t bring her children into a house where their father is despised.”

Steve Walton felt that old familiar wave of rage sweep through him. Fifteen years later, Susan was still defying him! He remembered the scene in his study, and Susan’s steady eyes looking into his as he ranted.

“Pregnant at sixteen, and by the GARDNER!” he’d screamed. “Well, we are going to have THAT taken care of, and HE’S fired! You will never see that man again!”

“THAT is my baby, daddy,” Susan had said in a tremulous voice. “And HE is the man I love. I’m going to marry him.”

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

“You marry that man and you’re on your own, Susan, do you hear?” Steve shouted furiously. “No more money, nothing! You marry him and you get out of my house!”

Susan had looked at him with tears in her eyes. “I love you, daddy,” she’d said. Then she turned around and walked away. Even though Steve had set detectives to find her, no one had been able to trace her.

“How many children?” he asked Pastor Morris.

“Four,” the pastor said. “Three girls and a boy. Beautiful children.”

Steve picked up his phone and spat out orders for his plane to be readied. “Pastor, would you come with me to Los Angeles, take me to my little girl?” he asked quietly.

The pastor nodded, and within two hours, the two men were on board Steve’s private jet winging their way south. There was a limo waiting for them, and the pastor directed them to a parking lot outside a large mall.

At the furthest end of the lot, a pickup truck was parked, with a tent set up at the back. Pastor Morris had told Steve that when Susan’s husband died in a work accident, the insurance company had refused to pay out and the bank foreclosed on the mortgage.

Susan had piled the children and their few belongings into the old pickup. She worked at the mall as a cleaner. She and the children used the mall’s facilities and bought whatever was leftover at the restaurants at the end of the night.

Still, she had managed to keep the four children fed, clean, and in school. As the two men approached the truck, they heard cheerful voices and laughter. Then two children tumbled out of the back.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

The biggest girl, about fourteen, was laughing as she tickled a boy of about seven. The children stopped and gaped at Steve and Pastor Morris. “Mom!” the girl yelled. “That old preacher friend of yours is here!”

A well-remembered voice asked from inside the tent, “Preacher Morris?” Then Susan climbed out and Steve could see the shock in her face when she saw him standing next to the pastor.

“Daddy?” she asked, and her eyes filled with tears.

Steve was shocked. His daughter was barely thirty-one, but she looked much older. Her face was worn and lined with worry and suffering, her hands coarsened by hard work.

“Susan,” Steve cried. “Look at you! Look at what HE did to my princess! I wanted so much for you! And you married that loser! What could he give you? Poverty?”

Susan shook her head and said, “He loved me, daddy, and he gave me 4 beautiful children. He died, and I had nowhere to go, but I’ve done what I can for my children. I will always love the father of my children, daddy, just like I’ve always loved you.”

Steve found that he had tears running down his face. “Forgive me, Susan,” he sobbed. “Please forgive me. Come home, I want you all to come home with me. Let me help you take care of the children!”

Steve found himself holding his weeping daughter and knew that everything was going to be alright. Susan introduced him to his three granddaughters, then she placed her hand on the boy’s shoulder. “And this,” she smiled, “is little Stevie!”

“You named him after me?” Steve asked, astounded. “After what I did?”

“I love you, daddy,” she said softly. “Don’t you know that?”

That afternoon, they all flew home to Texas. It was the beginning of a better life for all of them.