Sam was only 10 when his world collapsed after the death of his father. While his own blood relatives sought to crush his dreams, one helping hand completely changed his life.
There was no one way to describe what Sam’s dad was to him. The man was his father, a mother to the motherless boy, his hero, his greatest friend, and the only soul with whom he felt safe and connected in the world.
And when fate suddenly snatched that soul away from the kid, he was an 11-year-old boy who was lost and withdrawn from everyone and everything. The boy was never heard talking again or even seen crying like any “normal” child would.
But on his own, Sam had quietly turned to the only way he knew how to express himself anymore — writing.
Apart from his English teacher at school, it was only Sam’s father, Curtis, who knew how gifted his boy was with words.
“I can’t believe this is my kid ’cause I couldn’t read or write like him if my life depended on it!” Curtis would proudly tell everyone he met about his son.
The man was uneducated, and he had made what little money he could by working as a janitor for most of his life. But he cultivated his son’s interest in books, recognized it, and nurtured it like it was the most important thing in the world.
“A millionaire who was a janitor’s son, can you believe it?”
Sam didn’t remember a day when his father wouldn’t take him to the public library after school. There were days he went to bed without dinner but never without a book.
But after Curtis died, Sam couldn’t read a single page without breaking down at every sentence. So he took to writing instead. And within two months of his father’s death, the boy had exhausted half a dozen notebooks writing his thoughts in notes and poetry.
Not that anybody cared to read it. Sam had been living with his paternal aunt and her husband since his father’s death, and from what the boy had observed, aunt Cassie wasn’t a very nice woman, her husband was a loud, arrogant man, and their two unruly boys weren’t very nice either.
“The way I see it,” aunt Cassie’s husband said, sipping tea while Sam was cleaning the neglected backyard, “you’ve got to man up and find some work that’ll pay you. I don’t have money lying around to splurge on you, you know. So starting tomorrow, no school! And no library!”
“But… the library doesn’t cost anything. And aunt Cassie, I want to learn and become a—”
“Boy, I don’t care what you want to become!” The woman threw her hands in the air indifferently. “You could read every book under the sun, but the apple can’t fall far from the tree, now, can it? You’re a loser, like your dad! The sooner you accept that the better,” the woman said coldly.
Sam quietly packed his bag and stepped out for what was supposed to be his last day at school. But the boy had other plans…
Sam never returned home that evening or ever again. Aunt Cassie was more angry than worried, and she chose not to approach the police for help finding the boy. She was afraid that her own shady past would catch the attention of the cops and decided that her good-for-nothing brother’s son was not worth that risk.
It had been two days, and without anyone’s knowledge, Sam had been walking along the streets during the day and sleeping in the care of a few familiar homeless people to whom he and his father had often been kind in the past…
There was only one person in school who had spotted Sam in hiding — his English teacher, Mr. Murray.
Mr. Murray was heartbroken to see one of his best students sitting outside a cafe, gripping his stomach in hunger, tears streaming down his face.
“Sam,” the kind voice startled the child. “Come with me, child.”
The teacher had a giving heart, and after years of raising two adopted boys, he now knew how to make the troubled boy feel safe and comfortable.
Mr. Murray took Sam home, fed him, let him clean up, and tucked him in for a nap. Then he looked through Sam’s bag, hoping to find some number he could call. Instead, he found Sam’s diary.
While Sam was asleep, his teacher was doing his best to cry in silence as he read through page after page of what the 10-year-old had been going through.
And when Sam woke up after a couple of hours, he found his books neatly arranged on a shelf, his clothes put away in a laundry bag, and the picture of his father put in a beautiful frame and placed on the study table.
“You’ve been in hiding long enough, son,” Mr. Murray said, as he walked in and sat beside the boy.
“Not anymore. This is your home for as long as you want it to be. You can have all the food, toys, and books you want. I will drive you to and from school every day with my boys. Nobody will ever step on your dreams again, I promise,” Mr. Murray said, accepting Sam’s tearful embrace.
From that day on, Sam’s life was never the same. He studied hard and developed a confident, kind personality. Within a year, Mr. Murray had officially become Sam’s adoptive father.
Sam now had another father figure to look up to and lean on in addition to his late dad, and he had two loving elder brothers, too.
With the love and support of Mr. Murray, Sam graduated high school and got accepted on a scholarship at one of the best universities to study literature.
By the time Sam was 30, he was the millionaire owner of a successful publishing house for indie writers from across the world. Sam’s face was on the cover of every business magazine, and his new office was running out of space for his awards and accolades.
And aunt Cassie? She had grown old in the same limited world she had created for herself. Her husband had run off with another woman years ago, and the sons she was once boasted about had bailed on her the moment they turned 18, leaving her to work odd jobs in order to survive.
Things were starting to look up for her when she finally found a stable job. She started working as a janitor in a commercial building downtown.
She was only beginning to respect the occupation she once mocked when one day, she saw a familiar-looking young man dressed in a suit walking the lobby. When she looked closer, the mop slipped through her grip and she froze in shock and embarrassment.
“Look, that’s him! That’s Sam, the owner of this publishing house,” another housekeeping staffer showed Cassie. “A millionaire who was a janitor’s son, can you believe it? What an inspiring human being!”
Every word slid Cassie into deeper shame, and all she could do was hide away from the nephew whose dreams she had once tried to kill.
What can we learn from this story?
Your success is created by you, not by your circumstances. Sam proved himself to be a perfect example of someone who rose above his humble background and achieved success.
Every child, rich or poor, deserves people who believe in them. While aunt Cassie and her husband chose to belittle Sam’s ambitions, he found support in the form of his late father, Curtis, and his adoptive father, Mr. Murray.