Millionaire

As my papa slowly, but surely, leaned down into the seat of the sofa, he let out a silent sigh. A sigh of relaxation from achieving that minuscule goal. He had lowered his 89-year-old body full of aching joints, into the seat. He then let his mouth morph from a delicate smile into a dropped jaw. Allowing himself to articulate the thoughts that rapidly flew through his head. He dearly loves sharing his memories. Once he starts going on a good story—especially one about his childhood—there is no stopping him. But this particular story didn’t start with the usual “When I was a child”. He actually started with pulling out a slightly wrinkled, yellowed photograph from the pocket of his flannel jacket. When I saw the two faces of shaggy, blonde-haired boys, I knew it was him and his brother, Edwin. They were dressed in matching sailor uniforms, playing in the sand by a lake, looking to be about 5-years-old.

He started his tale with explaining where that picture was taken. It was Lake Erie, Michigan. The place that his mother had taken them for the day. They had been cheerfully skipping through the grains of sand, while soaking up the soft warm rays of sun. That day was permanently engrained in his brain. It was the glorious light at the end of a dark tunnel he had been fumbling around and searching in for months. That day was the first time he had gotten to let loose and jump about full of glee and energy, like all little kids should. Because the Depression had taken hold, it left his entire household full of tension and somberness, just as it had the rest of the United States.

For months, all he could do was mope around the house or toss his homemade baseball of twine, with his brothers. All he wanted was that feeling to last forever. That feeling of excitement. Endless energy used to play around on the beach. He relished the feeling of sand grains between his toes and not caring about anything.

At his highest moment of euphoria, he had a self-realizing thought. He decided that he wanted nothing more than to experience that feeling of elation as much as possible. In that instant, he started racking his brain to figure out a way to achieve that. At first, he was stumped. But after sitting down and really pondering, he came to a classic 5-year-old decision. The first reasonable thing that came to mind was what was on the minds of every American at that time.

With his brand new discovery, his whole body flowed with energy and excitement. He had convinced himself that he knew how to find the best kind of happiness. All he had to do was stick to his newfound, extremely simple plan. He was determined, more than ever, to do exactly that. He skipped through the sand and plopped himself on his mother’s lap. He gave her a massive grin, forcing the corners of his mouth to push to their highest limit as he exclaimed, “Mommy! I really know what I want to be when I grow-up!”

“What, honey?” she exclaimed in the same tone, trying to reciprocate excitement.

“I…. want to be a millionaire!” he squealed.





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