Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)
TITLE: Big Boats for Bucks
By Gini Branch
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Sam shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know.” he mumbled. Once he’d said he wanted to be a preacher like his grampa, but Ms. Taylor snorted and said, “You want to starve? Those guys never get paid anything, unless they go one TV. And then, you’ve got to be handsome before anybody notices you.” Sam knew he wasn’t handsome and never would be. The accident four years ago took care of that, and he sure didn’t want to starve.
She turned to Missy. “What about you, Missy, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Missy promptly said,” I want to be a judge like the lady on TV--Judge Judy.”
“Why?” Ms. Taylor asked.
“Cuz she’s smart and can tell people what to do.”
“You think she gets paid much for that?”
“Oh yes. Lots. All the stars make lots of money.” Missy said.
“Yes, I suppose they do. More than a preacher.”
“Sam, whatever happened to your wanting to be a preacher like your grampa? What was that little town?”
“Bulah.” Sam answered. “It was Bulah.”
“Oh yes. I remember now. Did you decide against that?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Sam referred to her as a “ma’am”. She didn’t correct him.
“Why?” she drawled, “I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“Yes, ma’am. But you can’t make no money at that. You said so. Man’s gotta be able to make money to support himself proper like.”
“Any money.” she corrected him. “You still don’t know what you want to be, though?”
“No ma’am.” He knew he was lying and so did Ms. Taylor. The bell finally, mercifully, rang.
The years went by. Sam graduated from high school and joined the Navy. The words of his fifth grade teacher rang in his ears. “You want to starve?”
Sam distinguished himself in the Navy, soon became a Master Chief Petty Officer aboard the USS Roosevelt. He had married his high school sweetheart, Abigail, they had four children, all boys, and had settled in Virginia. Retirement was just a few years away. Twenty-three years had glided by for him.
“Sam, what do you want to do after you retire?” Abi asked one day. Sam was home on shore leave and they’d packed a lunch for a picnic at the beach. The older boys had other plans for the day, but Dave, their youngest, tagged along with his mom and dad.
“Yeah, Dad. What do you want to be when you grow up?” Dave was joking with his dad. He couldn’t have known the memories that flooded his dad’s mind when he heard that question.
Sam looked up, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.” Abi tried to switch the subject, but Dave missed the cue.
“Well, Dad. What’s it gonna be?”
“You know, Dave,” Sam said, “somebody asked me that years ago. I couldn’t answer her then. I still don’t have an answer.”
Back home that evening, Abi asked Sam, “Did Dave open a can of worms for you?”
“Yeah, he did. My grampa always wanted me to be a preacher. But then the money thing, and the accident that left me with this.” He pointed to his old scar. “And, well, I gave up on it.” He paused for a moment. “Somewhere, I picked up that making money was the important thing for me to do. So, that’s the direction I headed. Didn’t make that either.”
“The big boats for the big bucks, huh?” Abi summarized Sam’s life.
“Yeah. Ships, by the way.”
“I know.” she grinned.
“Sometimes I wonder what’d it’d been like. You know.” Sam stared out the window watching the trees sway in the breeze. “Maybe…” his voice trailed off.
“But, then we wouldn’t have met. The boys wouldn’t be here. Your whole life would’ve been different. Do you regret us?” Abi asked. Sam shook his head. “Honey, you’ve preached more good sermons to the boys with the way you live then any twelve preachers could have. You helped them grow up into fine young men. You showed them Jesus. A good home, a good father count for something don’t they? Don’t you think your grampa would’ve been proud of that?”
“Sometimes I feel like I missed the whole point.”
Abi looked Sam in the eye and said, ”Sam, you got the point.”
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