Albert was tired of living.
“Why don’t I die?” He asked God. “What am I doing here, wasting oxygen? My wife is dead, my friends are dead. Let me go!”
But a quiet voice in his heart told him:
“You still have things to do, old man, and a lot of good times to have.” He knew he wasn’t going to rest anytime soon.
Albert shook his head.
“Why am I talking to you?” he grumbled. “You never tell me what I want to hear!”
The voice in Albert’s head seemed to laugh at this.
“Because you’re such a grouch that no one else is listening to you!”
Albert knew deep down that the voice was right. He was sad, angry and lonely. He had a tendency to push people away, even without meaning to.
He decided to go sit on his porch and work on some knots. Albert was a former Marine (he was a sergeant in the Marines), and sometimes, for fun, he would tie knots and frame them.
He was tying an intricate knot when he realized someone was watching him. There was a child hanging on his fence, watching him.
“What do you want?” he asked in a rough voice.
“Please, sir,” said the boy. “What are you doing? It looks really interesting!”
“Really interesting,” Albert said to correct the boy. “If you want to talk to me, you do it properly.”
“Yes, sir,” said the boy. “But what are you doing?”
“I’m tying knots,” Albert replied. “In the old days on sailing ships, these knots were all that separated the sailor from certain death…”
The boy was speechless and his eyes got as big as saucers as he listened to Albert’s stories about the sea, big ships and all sorts of adventures.
From that moment on, the child (his name was Robert) came to visit Albert every day after school to listen to his stories. Albert noticed that the child was too skinny, so he started making him sandwiches.
He learned that Robert came from a family of 8 children, who were struggling financially.
“My brother Fred works at the sawmill,” Robert told him. “I guess as soon as I turn eighteen, I’ll be working there too.”
“But what about the university? Asked the man. “You’re a smart boy, you could go far.”
Robert shrugged and said, “No one in my family has ever gone to college.”
“But would you like to?” Albert asked.
Robert sighed, “My mother says there’s no point in breaking your heart for what you can’t have.”
“What do YOU want Robert?” Albert asked him in a low voice.
“Impossible dreams change the world, remember that!”
“I want to be a lawyer,” the boy confessed. “But…”
“We’ll see what the future holds,” the old man replied. “You just have to study and make sure that when the opportunity comes, you’ll be ready!”
The years passed. Robert grew older, and Albert aged more, but they became the best of friends.
“This is your last year, isn’t it, Robert?” Albert asked.
Robert replied, “Yes, next year I start at the sawmill. My dad has already talked to the boss…”
“What about college?” Asked Albert, being very upset. “You’re supposed to go to college!”
“That was our little daydream, Albert,” Robert said sadly. “There’s no money for college.”
“Yes, there is!” said Albert.
He got up, went to his desk, and wrote a check and handed it to Robert. “This is for your freshman tuition, plus living expenses.”
“I can’t take your money, Albert!” protested Robert.
“Robert, I’m 79 years old,” said the old man. “I don’t pay rent and I don’t eat much. My wife and I never had children, so the money has been piling up. I want you to have it, Robert. Please make me feel like I helped someone live a better life!”
Robert took the money that year, and the following years, until he graduated. Once he passed the bar exam, he started working very hard, and Albert hardly saw him anymore.
The day Albert turned 89, Robert arrived.
“Come on, old man!” he said to Albert. “Let’s go for a ride!”
Robert took him to the marina, and they took a long walk.
“What do you think of this one?”, Robert asked as he showed his old friend an elegant cruise ship.
“Gorgeous,” said Albert. ” It’ s beautiful as a heart, and it should do just as well in the wild waters!”
“Why don’t you take a look at it?” asked Robert with a smile.
Albert gasped. “Is it yours? Seriously?”
Robert hugged his old friend.
” It is, Albert, it’s part of the impossible dream you told me to achieve, but I wouldn’t have any of it if it wasn’t for you!”.