Andy hated that his father never got a better job, and they lived in poverty most of his life. But he never understood precisely what his father did until years later when the truth was revealed, and that’s when Andy was forced to take on the job.
“I’m never coming back! I can’t deal with having a father who never sought to give me a better life, especially after Mom died! You could’ve worked anywhere else for better pay. There were so many opportunities in this town, but you chose not to, and I’m done! I will make something of myself and never let my kids suffer such a fate!”
Those were the last words Andy yelled at his father, Michael Sanders, when he walked out the door at 18 and never returned.
Over the next few years, Andy started working, earning as much money as possible and saving exhaustively to provide for his future family. And he built one.
His wife, Darla, was his dream woman, and she had a lucrative career too. Their kids would be cared for forever.
Andy had not seen his father for many years, despite Darla asking him to reconcile so their children could get to know their grandfather. Andy explained why he didn’t talk to the older man, but his wife thought his reason was silly.
“Before we talk about everything else, I’ve been trying to think about what to say, how to respond to your last words to me. And I never knew how to say it. And then I didn’t know if you wanted to hear them. But I’m finally ready.”
“I’m sure he did the best he could with his situation, darling,” she told him at one point. “I want my kids to have a grandfather. I don’t have parents left, so it would be nice if they got to have one grandparent.”
“Darla, I can’t. I said some terrible things when I left his house, and I don’t exactly regret them, but I’m so ashamed of how I acted, honestly,” Andy replied.
Luckily, his wife let the matter go for a while. But little did Andy know he would receive an email from his dad soon.
“I can’t believe this,” he said, staring at his home computer in shock, and Darla came to stand behind him.
“From your dad? What does it say?” she wondered, leaning her hands on the back of his chair.
“He’s… dying,” he swallowed thickly. “I… oh my God.”
The emotions quickly overwhelmed him, and his wife wrapped her arms around him tightly, speaking softly. “This is your chance to make up and talk to him. You should at least listen to what he has to say.”
“You’re right. It’s also my chance to apologize. Maybe something was going on that I had no idea about. Otherwise, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”
Andy turned off his computer and got ready to visit his father. He didn’t live far from the older man. They were still in Oregon, but Andy had chosen not to have contact with the older man, and his father did not reach out either. His email was unexpected, and the news of his health was even more shocking.
“Andy, you’re here,” his dad stated when he opened the door of his house.
Andy felt his heart racing at the awkwardness of the moment. He nodded and smiled crookedly at his father, who opened his arms for a hug. Although their last encounter was heartbreaking and hurtful, he was willing to forgive his son’s words and only wanted an embrace. Andy took the offer quickly, returning the feeling gratefully.
“I’m so sorry about everything. I meant what I said back then, but now that I have kids, I know how hard it must have been to hear my harsh words,” he said into his dad’s shoulder. The older man patted his back.
“Don’t mention it. That’s behind us now, and I want to hear everything about your family. But there’s something I want to explain to you first,” Michael responded, pulling his son further into the house. They separated and sat down on the couch.
“Wait, shouldn’t you be lying down? Are you in pain?”
“No, I feel alright today. Maybe my body knew you were coming and allowed me to feel better,” Michael replied. “Before we talk about everything else, I’ve been trying to think about what to say, how to respond to your last words to me. And I never knew how to say it. And then I didn’t know if you wanted to hear them. But I’m finally ready.”
“Tell me,” Andy insisted, adjusting himself and ready to listen for the first time. The years had undoubtedly matured him because he definitely wouldn’t have listened when he left at 18.
“Son, you only knew that my job didn’t pay much, but I was proud of everything I did. I’m retired now, but I used to work for the Spokane Waste to Energy plant. I believe that learning how to reduce waste is the most important job anyone could have. Our world is dying and has been dying for decades, but people are barely listening now,” Michael revealed, shocking his son.
“Oh, I thought it was a random construction job,” Andy said, confusion coloring his tone.
“I know. I didn’t want you or others to know about it because working with waste or garbage has such a stigma. You could’ve been bullied, so I kept it a secret. But most importantly, I hid my motives. I did this for you. Because I wanted you to grow up on a cleaner planet. For you to have a future. For you and your family to live without fear of climate change or carbon emissions or anything really,” Michael continued.
“That’s… sweet, Dad,” Andy continued, feeling even more guilty about his attitude back then.
“Of course, I was not a vital employee for big projects. I wasn’t researching new technologies or coming up with better solutions. But I believed I was contributing to it. I believed I was doing something significant with my life, even if I was not earning enough money for us, for you to have better opportunities. And I’m sorry about that,” the older man added, his eyes watering.
Andy placed his hand on his father’s shoulder and shook his head. “I was an idiot, Dad. I was so stupid and immature. I should’ve worked harder too. I should’ve earned scholarships. You did your best, and you wanted a better future for me. That’s all that matters,” he stated, his emotions also surfacing.
They soon shifted the conversation, talking about their guilt, errors, regrets, and everything in between. By the end of the visit, Andy felt like he had regained his father, forgetting the many years of no contact.
Soon enough, he introduced Michael to the rest of the family, and a few months later, Michael passed away. Andy had a terrible time accepting it. Although he had earned the older man’s forgiveness, he felt so sad about his death. About all the time he wasted being angry when his father only wanted the best for him all along.
Soon, he quit his high-paying job and applied for one at Spokane Waste to Energy, ready to contribute to what his father believed in. He thought he had understood the older man’s intentions before, but now, it was more evident. This was all that mattered in the end—cleaning the planet and creating fewer carbon emissions and less waste. It was the key to the future, even if it didn’t pay much.
Money didn’t matter when his family was on the line, and Andy had realized that his father had the right idea all along.
What can we learn from this story?
- Never judge a person, especially when you don’t know everything. Andy shunned his father and cut off contact with him because he blamed his job for their poverty. But years later, he learned the truth about his work and realized how harshly he had misjudged him.
- Reducing waste, cleaning, and recycling are keys to the future. Unfortunately, our planet is on the brink of a critical emergency. World organizations must take climate change and waste issues seriously before it’s too late.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man whose father blamed him for the death of his mother, but the older man was taught a lesson.
This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to [email protected].