It’s story time! Several friends have asked me to post a story on my blog, so finally I succumbed. I’ll upload my ‘parable of a parable’ in a couple of separate parts. Hope you enjoy…
I hated, hated, hated it. All of it. All the rules, the regulations. No matter from which angle I viewed the situation, I didn’t understand why Daddy hadn’t let me join my friends on their Caribbean vacation. I didn’t get why he wanted me to attend a stupid, boring medical conference instead of lounging on a sun-kissed beach in Jamaica.
“It’s for your good,” he’d told me again last night. “This conference is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for an eighteen-year-old.”
“So is a Caribbean cruise,” I’d mumbled.
But that hadn’t changed his mind. He still thought it wiser to drag me to long-winded speeches from doctors around the globe than to let me party on the beach with friends. He claimed they were a bad influence; I didn’t agree, and frankly, I didn’t care.
Growing up with a father and plenty of relatives who were medical doctors had its own set of pains. When they weren’t slaving away at Grace Medical Center or attending one medical convention or other, they were working on publishing medical journals or flying to Africa to serve with Doctors Without Borders. Of course, it was great for people like my older sister Dayna. Six years my senior, she studied at Harvard Medical University, intending to become a neurosurgeon. She nearly drooled at the prospect of being able to tag along with Daddy to speeches by some gray-haired cardiologist or other.
But for me… I hated it. I hated having my life planned out for me before I ever reached high school. (“Now, sweetie,” Granny would say, “Are you becoming a neurosurgeon like your dad or a cardiologist like your grandpa?”) Everyone assumed I’d be a doctor; the only question was my field of expertise. What if I wanted to become an actress or a basketball star or… or a dolphin trainer?
I scrolled through my Instagram feed once more, glowering at the pictures of my friends living it up on the beach. It wasn’t fair. Not a bit. I was stuck in Mayfield, a small community just outside Minneapolis. Same old house, same boring malls, same stupid people. “Well, at least in fall I’m going to Yale,” I comforted myself. “No dad around to set up mile-high rules.”
Managing a little smile, I put down my phone. Well, I had the day all to myself. The conference didn’t start until tomorrow, and Daddy was busy at Grace Medical.
Since the cook didn’t come in during weekdays, I decided to make myself a good hearty breakfast. Thanks to online food blogs, I managed to whip up an omelet. While waiting for it cook, I turned on some karaoke channel on YouTube and sang along to some of my favourite songs. Feeling generous, I brought the dirty bowl and measuring spoons to the sink for the cook to wash when she came in on the weekend. I even wiped up some of the egg that had spilled, never missing a word in ‘Try Everything’.
“Hey! You in the kitchen?”
I jumped, then laughed when I saw Adriana, our housekeeper. “Hi!”
She shook her head. “You sing nice. I thought it was a famous singer on YouTube.” She spoke slowly, haltingly in a thick Hispanic accent. She was from Mexico or Spain or somewhere.
“Aw, thanks,” I beamed.
“Really good.” Adriana wiped up a stain I’d missed on the floor. “You could become next famous singer.”
“Why, I probably could!” I flipped the omelet, creating a splatter on the stove. Oops, too bad for Cook.
Adriana picked up a cleaner from under the sink and stuck it into her caddy. “I go clean your room. Is a mess.” But she grinned.
“Yeah, yeah.” I poked the egg to test its doneness. “Perfect.”
“Not forget salt.” Adriana shuffled back out of the kitchen.
I sprinkled my omelet with salt, and dove in. Cheese oozed from the bubbling center and the sautéed onions and peppers were just the right texture. As I continued eating the delicious breakfast, I considered Adriana’s words. I wondered who she thought was singing.
It wasn’t the first time someone commented on my singing. As a child, I’d always been picked to do solos in our church Christmas play. And after each presentation, delighted people flocked around me, raving over my beautiful voice.
Suddenly I pushed my half-eaten omelet aside. What if Adriana was right? What if I truly could become the next major pop star? What if I went to Nashville and people loved me there?
Nothing’s stopping me! I realized. Oh wait. Money. It wasn’t like I was poor. My dad had done extremely well in his practice as well as the medical journals he’d published. I lived in a huge house, drove a cool sports car, and wore designer clothes. But my dad was the one who dished out the money. I didn’t have any.
Oh. Wait. Again my mind did a double-take. I knew that my dad had dedicated the profits of his latest book to me. He’d set up a trust fund for me. Also, there was the college fund. And the other account Daddy had set up for me. Maybe I was rich. I didn’t know the first thing about money, but I was fairly sure it was a lot of money. And it was legally mine. Sorta.
Slowly I got up. A plan was hatching in my brain.
“Alison? Are you home?”
Tossing my phone down on my bed, I headed down the wide staircase to the living room. “Dad.”
He loosed his tie and draped his sports coat neatly over the back of a chair. “Whew… what a day at the hospital.”
I just waited.
Finally he turned around. “How was your day, Al?”
“Good.” I kept my voice deliberately civil.
“Nice.” He headed to the kitchen to look into the refrigerator. “Hey, who ate the last of the cheesecake?”
At last he returned to the living room with a small plate of chocolate pie. “You want some?”
I shook my head.
“Well, the convention starts tomorrow. You ready to learn a thing or two?” Daddy grinned.
“I’m not going to the convention.”
He raised his eyebrows, a forkful of chocolate pie halfway to his mouth.
I took a deep breath. “Daddy, I want my trust funds and my college fund unlocked. I want my share of the money.”
“Alison, why?” He set the plate down on the coffee table. “What do you need?”
“Freedom.” I crossed my arms tightly across my chest, and looked him straight in the eye. “I want to move out. I need to. I’m tired of all your rules and everything. I don’t want to be a doctor.”
Daddy blinked. “You… you don’t have to come to the convention. I thought you’d enjoy it. It’s a rare experience for-”
“It’s not that!” I forced my voice volume to lower. “It’s not just that. I don’t want to live here anymore. I’m tired of being Alison Jacobson, the daughter of the high and mighty Drs. Jacobson. I’m tired of people thinking we’re the perfect little family. I want freedom, I want life! And I want my share of all this,” I waved a hand around the plush living room. “My share of everything.”
He sat down on the edge of the couch, staring at me. “You don’t know what you’re asking for. Alison, if you want to travel, I’ll find a nice European tour or a California trip with some-”
“NO! Don’t you understand?” My voice had become shrill. “I don’t want anything that you book. I want to make my own plans, become my own person. Now, give my money please.”
“Alison, you know that the trust fund is yours on your twenty-first birthday.”
“I want it now.”
“And the college fund… it’s for Yale.”
“I want it now.”
Daddy took a deep breath. “You’re serious.”
“Of course I am. And this is not something stupid or rash. I’ve been sick and tired of you and yours for a long time. I know what I’m doing.”
To my shock, Daddy called the bank. It took a long time but finally he emerged from his office, looking tired and old. “Well,” he said. “The accounts are all unlocked and moved into yours.”
I swallowed hard. “Okay.”
“Are you sure this is what you want?” Daddy rubbed his neck.
“Absolutely. I’m leaving tomorrow morning.” I threw him a look. “I know you think this is a mistake, but I’ll show you. I’ll be fine. And not only that, I’ll be successful. You’ll see.”
“You know you can come back. In a day, in a week, whenever.”
“I know. But I won’t.” I turned and lightly ran up the stairs to my room. I opened my banking app on my phone and confirmed what Daddy told me. I nearly gasped when I saw my account balance. Goodness, with that kind of money I could do whatever I wanted to. There was no danger of running out anytime soon.
My phone vibrated. It was my wonderful sister Dayna. I rolled my eyes and considered letting her go to voicemail, but finally hit the green icon. “Hey.”
“Alison, are you crazy!” she shouted. “What are you thinking!”
“I need freedom.” I wandered over to my window and looked out over the backyard. The large pool glistened in the twilight, reminding me of many good times my family had spent there, swimming, barbequing, entertaining friends, playing games… “I need to leave.”
“You are crazy. Stay at home. If you stay home and pretend to be the perfect little girl, you get all the perks.” Dayna took a deep breath. “Daddy told me you’d asked for your accounts to be unlocked. That’s stupid, Alison. Mine are all unlocked, of course, but I haven’t touched them. I support myself with a job at the campus pharmacy. I’m managing very well without even using Daddy’s resources. You need to save that money for some time when you really need it.”
“I know what I’m doing,” I insisted. Then thoughtfully, I added, “You’re stupid too, Dayna. There’s millions of dollars at your fingertips but you refuse to touch any of it.”
“I don’t need to. I’m doing well on my own.”
After finishing the call, I started packing. I snuck some of Dayna’s suitcases from her closet, since I couldn’t possibly pack all of my stuff into my set. I was done packing at one in the morning. Hauling all my baggage down to the garage turned out to be quite the job. Dayna’s big suitcase had to weigh 70 pounds.
After six trips, my room looked empty and destitute. My big fluffy comforter was now in the backseat of my Camaro and the Polaroid photos had been neatly fitted into small shoeboxes. While dragging down the heavy suitcases, I’d decided to leave now. Why wait till morning to start my new life if I could go now?
I slow-spun in my room one last time. My little African violet plant! Granny gave it to me for my graduation and I loved it. But there was no room in my car. It just wasn’t practical. I touched its velvety leaves. “Stay alive,” I whispered.
Then I descended the staircase. I could hear Daddy talking to someone in the kitchen. I hesitated, then peeked around the corner.
Daddy smiled at me, immense grief and bottomless love in the same look. “You’re leaving.”
“Yeah.” There was no one else in the kitchen. He’d been praying.
“I’ll pray for you. Every day, every moment.” He got up and approached me with open arms.
I backed away. “No,” I managed past the knot in my throat. “It’s time to go.”
I spun around and dashed to the garage. Revving the engine of my car, I backed out of the carport. As I slowly drove down the driveway, I glanced back one more time.
My childhood house sat in darkness. Only the living room window was lit. My father stood silhouetted in the rectangle of warm yellow light, his hand on the glass and his head bowed.
“It’ll be worth it,” I told myself, as I navigated my car into the deserted midnight streets. “My freedom will be worth it all.”
And that’s the end of our story time for tonight. I’ll publish the next parts over the course of a week or two. To make sure you don’t miss any parts, click the subscribe button on the right top sidebar (for computer users) or at the bottom of the page (for mobile devices). You just need to enter your email address, and you’ll be notified of all new posts. Be blessed! 🙂
Go to Part Two