Living the Dream

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Chris Mills

by Chris Mills

Al stared out the window at his eleven year old son as he sat in a chair in the back yard with a drawing pad on his lap. Everyone called the boy “Wolf,” and Al was tempted to run out and grab the pad of paper out of Wolf’s hands and tear it to pieces in front of the boy.

But Al continued to watch the scene in the back yard. He remembered the day Wolf had been born. Al and his wife, Mary, were overjoyed to bring a healthy child into the world since their three older children had all died in infancy. The couple poured their hearts and souls into raising the boy. They took him to church every Sunday, where, at age eight, he joined the children’s choir. Wolf became interested in the Church and even spoke of pursuing the priesthood. In time though other things captured his attention, and thoughts of a life in the ministry were forgotten.

One of the things Wolf focused on was art. Al knew that his son really wanted to paint, but Al refused to purchase the necessary materials. As he was looking out of the window, Al became aware of someone standing behind him. His wife Mary finally broke the silence.

“God has given us this son, Al, and God has given him a gift. He is really a very good painter, and with the right instruction, he might be a great painter.”

“But if he follows after me and pursues a government job, he’ll be financially set for life. I’m only thinking of his future well being, Mary.”

“I know you love your son and want only the best for him. But would he be happy doing what you do? Al, have you always been happy doing what you do?”

Al thought about her last question. Had he really enjoyed his life, or had he actually been enduring his job solely because it provided financially for him and his family? His hard heart began to soften. Mary sensed this and pressed a little further.

“Remember how happy we were when he was born, and how incredibly happy we were as each birthday passed? He lived. We didn’t lose this child, he lived. And we were happy. And Wolf has been happy too. But that may change if you and he don’t settle your differences about his future. Don’t be afraid to let the boy take a risk. Let him pursue happiness, not money.”

“When I was young, I was given the opportunity to work for the government. I worked hard and rose through the ranks to the point where I could rise no higher. I didn’t have enough education. I’ve always dreamed that Wolf would go to school, enter into government service and rise to a position which I couldn’t reach. But look at him out there now. Drawing pictures. And he has a smile on his face. Wolf rarely smiles anymore.” Al turned to his wife and said, “You’re right, he should pursue what brings him happiness. And I need to get behind him before he gives up on his dream.” Al picked up the car keys from the table and walked toward the door.

“Where are you going, Al? It’s nearly dinner time.”

“I’ve got a quick errand to run, Mary. I’ll be back in plenty of time for dinner.”

That night after dinner was over, and the family was still seated around the table, Al walked to the hallway closet and retrieved a package. He approached his son and knelt down in front of him.

“My son, more than anything else in life, I want you to be happy. I know how you feel about painting, and I’ve tried to talk you out of pursuing that as your life’s work. But now I want you to know that you have my blessing.”

The boy opened the package to find several sheets of heavy watercolor art paper along with an assortment of watercolors and brushes. Wolf was so engrossed in looking at each bottle, he didn’t notice that his father had one more thing for him. It was a painting easel.

“If you’re going to be a painter, you’re going to do it right. Men and women around the world will someday stand in galleries and museums and observe the paintings of my son.

Wolf jumped up and threw his arms around his father’s neck and said,

“I love you father. Thank you for not being angry with me anymore. Thank you for letting me paint.” As Wolf ran to the living room to set up his easel, Mary, or rather Maria, walked over to her husband and put her arms around him.

“Alois Hitler, you just handed that boy a whole new life.”

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