Alex always hated a painting his father Matthew hung in the living room. So he threw it away when the older man died and forgot about it. Years later, he lost everything in a scandal, including his home, and discovered the painting in a dumpster. It was only then that he understood the real significance of it.
Matthew was an artist who commissioned paintings whenever possible. Still, his primary income was a night job cleaning a restaurant and part-time work as a construction man on the weekends.
His wife, Molly, stayed home to raise their five children and couldn’t help him with the bills. But they both did their best for their family, and the kids were honor-roll students, great athletes, and healthy, which is what any parent hopes for at the end of the day. They excelled at everything despite their financial limitations.
One day, Matthew painted a particular piece and hung it in their living room. It was a beautiful portrait that would sell for a lot of money, but he had no intentions of selling it. Their eldest son, Alex, always wondered why he wouldn’t make money out of it, thinking it was a waste, but his father was adamant.
When the kids got older, Molly had more time and got a job, so more money started coming in. Eventually, Matthew opened an art workshop, offering classes and special lectures, which got incredibly popular due to his talent. Finally, more clients started commissioning him for paintings, and the family didn’t have to struggle any longer.
They bought a bigger house; this way the kids would have their own space. Once they moved into the new place, Alex suggested throwing the old painting away, but his father refused for some strange reason.
“No, son. This painting is coming with us to the new house, and it’ll be on display in the living room right where everyone can see it,” Matthew reproached him, looking at the painting.
“But Dad, you could easily sell it. I think we need to start fresh. Make a new one to hang in the new house. We have to forget the past,” Alex insisted, but Matthew shook his head once again.
“One day, you’ll get it,” Matthew said, staring at his son and patting his shoulder lightly.
He hung the picture in the living room just as he promised. Alex helped him do it, too, despite his dislike for the piece. He still didn’t understand his father’s fixation with it.
Unfortunately, Matthew passed away just before Alex entered college, and the young man was so devastated by the loss that he took the painting and threw it in the trash after the funeral. His mother let him because she knew how awful he was feeling, and the rest of his siblings understood too.
Picking up the pieces after Matthew’s death, Molly started running his workshop, and their family continued to earn good money. Alex left for college and became an architect. He was renowned around Boston just like his father had been. But he was even more successful at his young age.
He had a great apartment in a downtown area and worked tirelessly for several years after university. But his amazing life soon took an awful turn.
A scandal broke out, and he was accused of corruption, By the time his name was cleared, his reputation in the field had been destroyed. He couldn’t get any work anymore and decided to study business at the community college to change his career. But his savings were running out.
Eventually, his landlord decided not to renew the lease on his apartment because he had heard about him on the news. It was a disaster. He even lost his car because he couldn’t keep up with payments anymore. But he continued studying.
Alex was too proud to return home, although he knew that his mother would welcome him. He was too ashamed to face the family after his name had been tarnished, so he stopped answering her calls. His siblings tried to reach him, but he also avoided them. He wanted to get out of his hole before he returned to them.
When his father got famous and they left poverty, he swore he would never live like that again. This situation had damaged his ego, and he had to pick up the pieces somehow. But on his own.
He stayed in a secluded spot beneath a small bridge in the city and studied with his phone and laptop. He charged it in public buildings or the community college library whenever he could and showered at the YMCA every day. He continued enrolling in classes using his mother’s address.
One day, while walking back to his secret place, he spotted something odd on a dumpster. It was a canvas, and it featured an image he hadn’t seen in many years.
“Oh my god,” he whispered to himself and grabbed the frame. It was his father’s painting, and he had no idea how it ended up in that dumpster when he had thrown it away so many years ago. But he was distracted from that thought after turning the canvas around. His dad had written something he had never seen years ago, despite holding this painting many times.
He started to cry thinking of his father, and he promised himself that everything would be better soon. His dad and his mother had raised them with hard work despite little to no money, and they eventually got out of their dire financial situation. Alex could do it too.
He would show his face to his family again when everything was better, and he was never letting go of that painting. His father had treasured it for some reason, and now he knew why.
So Alex walked back to his hidey-hole with the canvas in hand and looked at the image that night while reviewing his notes.
“You were right, Dad,” he said and turned the painting to see his father’s inscription.
It read: “It won’t always be like this.”
When things got better for Alex, his family welcomed him back with open arms, and they were surprised when he returned the painting to his mother’s living room. “I never should’ve thrown it out,” he told them. His siblings smiled, although he didn’t tell them about the inscription. They had to find it on their own someday.
What can we learn from this story?Everything will get better in the end. It might sound like a cliché but eventually, things do get better, either with hard work or because time makes them less painful.
Listen to your parents’ wisdom. Sometimes, parents do inexplicable things, but they become more apparent once you grow up and experience life.