A hardworking dad named Peter White raised his 12-year-old daughter Mary all alone. After noticing that his daughter stopped walking home with her friend like she always did, he decided to follow her one day, which led to a surprising discovery.
Peter was a hardworking businessman who started working from home when his wife Annika passed away years back. He decided to do everything from home to take good care of their only daughter Mary and provide for whatever she needed.
Although Peter would take Mary to school every morning, she would usually walk home with her friend Anna every afternoon. He would then sit on their porch, waiting for her to arrive.
It’d always be Mary who’d get home first, as their house was right at the corner of Anna’s street. The two girls would wave at Peter, and he’d wave back with a smile on his face.
In the past month, Peter noticed that Mary would always return home with her clothes dirtied. He didn’t think much of this, as he thought maybe she played with other kids at school on the field or at the playground.
However, he started to notice that Mary would no longer walk with Anna, and Anna would always pass by first. Mary would usually follow after around twenty to thirty minutes.
He decided to ask Anna’s mom what happened. “Hey Lucy, how are you? I was just wondering… is anything going on between Anna and Mary? I noticed they haven’t been walking together after school anymore,” he asked.
“Hi Peter, the girls are having one of those quarrels again. You know, teenage girl stuff,” Anna’s mom replied. This didn’t sound good to Peter, so the next day, he decided to see where Mary would go after school.
Peter waited inside his car from across the school. He spotted Mary leaving, and her clothes were not soiled the same way it’d be every time she’d come home. He started the car and slowly followed her as she walked.
After a while, she turned towards an old abandoned house and entered. Peter quickly parked the car and ran towards the house to follow inside where he saw Mary approach an old man in ragged clothes.
“Mary! Get away from him!” he shouted. Mary jumped at her dad’s loud voice and dropped the bag of food she had brought for the man from their school cafeteria.
“But dad…” she started to say. Before she knew it, Peter lifted her from the ground and brought her inside the car.
“Mary, you can’t be walking into abandoned houses and talking to homeless men like that! What if he did something to hurt you?!” he said angrily.
“I’ve been giving him food, dad. He hasn’t touched me, ever,” Mary replied in tears after her dad raised his voice at her.
“Just because he hasn’t done it doesn’t mean he can’t in the future! And besides, there are many dangers out there. You can’t be hanging around dangerous places alone. Promise me, Mary. You’re not going back there,” he said again, still shaken by the startling discovery he just made.
Hesitantly, Mary nodded. “I promise. But daddy, can you please get the drawings he made for me? Please, I want the drawings,” she pleaded.
Mary wouldn’t stop crying, so after he dropped her home, he went back to the abandoned house and saw the same man sitting on the floor. “My daughter won’t stop talking about some drawings she left over here,” Peter said.
The homeless man quietly handed him pieces of paper. Peter was surprised to see that they were portraits of his late wife.
“Your daughter is a kind young girl. I was very ill and hungry one day, and I was lying on the ground because I was exhausted. Mary wanted to help, but her friend told her to get away from me. Mary stayed, while her friend angrily ran home,” the man started to explain.
“She bought me a sandwich and some tea, and after I slowly recovered, she helped me walk back here to the house that I stay in. We talked for a while, and I told her I used to be an artist. She gave me art materials and asked me to draw her late mom,” he added.
The homeless man revealed that he never asked for payment for the drawings, but Mary would always come and bring her sandwiches. He shared:
“She is such a kind girl. I was happy to do the portraits for free because I could see how much they meant to her, but she always had food for me. She would wait for me to finish drawing by sitting on the ground with me. That’s why she’d always end up soiling her clothes.”
Peter immediately felt terrible for misjudging the man. He realized that Mary was longing for her mother, and she found a friend in this kind man who would generously give her portraits of her mom.
“I’m sorry for judging you earlier today. I thought you were planning something bad, and I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing my daughter. I’m sorry, and thank you for keeping her mother’s image alive in her heart and her mind,” he said.
At that, the homeless man handed him his final drawing. “This was the drawing she asked me to do yesterday. I just finished it today, and I was going to give it to her,” he said.
Peter took the piece of paper in his hands and saw it was a drawing of their family. He, Mary, and his late wife Annika were laughing as they ate dinner together. Peter couldn’t help but weep.
“This is beautiful,” he said, sniffling. “Thank you so much. I’m going to have this framed.”
After he composed himself, he proceeded to ask the man a question: “My best friend owns an art shop nearby. He hires artists for his exhibitions and art shows. Would you be interested in giving it a try?”
The man smiled. “I would love that. Thank you. I have been camping in this abandoned place for a while now. I’d like to get another shot at living life normally,” he responded.
That was the beginning of a beautiful change in his life, one that allowed him to eat, sleep, and live comfortably while doing something he genuinely loved.
After constantly earning money through the art shop, he was able to rent a small workshop and live there, too. He would take in art commissions, and he started to earn well for himself.
Meanwhile, he remained friends with Peter and Mary, who frequently invited him over for dinner. He also started giving Mary lessons, as the young girl was interested in art.
What can we learn from this story?
- Just because one person has less in life does not mean they are bad. Homeless people are often misjudged as lazy, incompetent, and even dangerous. However, what many fail to realize is that sometimes, they were just dealt the wrong cards in life.
- It’s never too late to start anew. Although the homeless man lived in poverty, his talent allowed him to begin anew and make a living for himself.