After a harsh childhood, a man became homeless due to a health issue. One day, he helped an older lady with her leaky roof, and she listened to his heartbreaking story. Later, the old woman revealed a huge surprise that made his dreams come true.
At 29, Mike suffered a heart attack, the cherry on top of a harsh life. His childhood was less than stellar after his mother died when he was eight, and his father fell into dark habits. Things got so bad money-wise that the older man took away Mike’s only solace, a saxophone his mother had given him years ago. Afterward, he died when their house burned down, and Mike was sent into foster care.
Once he aged out, he started working in construction with the dream of repurchasing the instrument from the same person his dad had sold it to years ago. Luckily, the man still lived in their old neighborhood, and Mike saved for years to achieve his goal. However, the neighbor took his money and disappeared without a word. No one heard from him again, and Mike was devastated.
But he was not defeated. If anything, he was more motivated to save up and buy another saxophone so he could get gigs doing what he loved as a child: playing jazz for others. Therefore, he worked hard in construction, even taking the most dangerous and strenuous jobs available.
“Child, I see that you’ve had a bunch of bad luck, but I also believe that it’s about to change,” Miriam began.
Unfortunately, it led to a heart attack that put him in bed for several months. He lost his employment and eventually his apartment. Despite all his efforts, he ended up homeless, jumping from shelter to shelter and sometimes staying in cheap motels for a night or two. He was too weak to get back into construction, but he could often find work washing dishes in the local L.A. restaurants.
One night, it was raining buckets, and Mike accidentally took a wrong turn away from his usual homeless shelter and stumbled into a modest neighborhood. He walked around, hoping he could stay under a porch and wait for the rain to decrease a bit.
But suddenly, an old woman’s door opened, and she called to him. “Young man! Young man!” she called, waving her arm forcefully. Mike didn’t know what she wanted, but maybe she would ask him to stay under a roof for a while, so he went up to her.
“Good evening, ma’am,” he said, getting under her awning and wiping the raindrops from his face.
“Young man, what are you doing out there in this kind of weather?” she asked, crossing her arms protectively.
“I don’t have anywhere to go,” Mike answered, shrugging.
“Oh, well. Do you know anything about patching roofs?” the older lady asked matter-of-factly.
“Actually, yes,” he answered with a sheepish grin.
“Good, because my house is basically flooding right now. Can you help me?” she continued, pointing inside her home. Mike leaned to look through the doorway, and she was right. There were several leaks in her roof.
“Oh my, ma’am. This is bad. Do you have tools and materials I can work with?” he wondered because those leaks would not be easy to fix.
“I’m not sure… My son… he used to fix my stuff at my old house… but when he sold it and stuck me here, he didn’t bother anymore,” the older woman said, wrapping her arms around herself once again. “But there might be some things in the garage. Let’s take a look.”
Mike was curious about her words, thinking that if his own mother were still alive, he wouldn’t let her live somewhere like this. At the very least, he would ensure that her roof was in top shape. But he followed her and discovered several useful things in her garage.
“I’m Miriam, by the way,” she said as he grabbed what he needed. “There’s also a ladder over there.”
“I’m Mike, ma’am. I see that. I’ll get to work right away,” he nodded.
“Even with the rain?” she asked, surprised by his easy agreement to help her.
“Ok, I’ll fix you something for dinner and some hot chocolate, and I think I have some men’s clothes still for when you’re done,” Miriam smiled and went inside.
The rain only got harsher, and Mike did his best to get to the roof and work. The labor was tougher than it used to be before his heart attack, and he was left almost panting after finishing a path in one area. But he pushed through to test himself and ensure that this woman’s house wouldn’t suffer further damage.
When he was done, he saw Miriam using a floor squeegee to get the water out of her house. Mike grabbed it and told Miriam to dry other parts of her home. They continued working for a while, as the rain only got worse. But at least her roof was no longer leaking, and they could dry most of her things.
Afterward, Miriam gave him the clothes she had found and practically pushed him into a hot shower. He had not showered with hot water in so many years. It was a delight. He relaxed for as long as he could justify it and came out quickly.
“Child, come to the table. Let’s eat. I hope you like homemade lasagna,” Miriam said as she took a Pyrex from her oven, and the delicious scent of meat and tomatoes hit his nose.
“Oh, ma’am. That sounds like a dream come true,” he said, rubbing his hands and sitting at the table.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done without you, so eat as much as you want. I have some Jell-O in the fridge for dessert too,” she revealed, smiling at him. Mike dug into the food and was transported to the few good memories of his childhood when his mother cooked for him.
“Ma’am, tell me more about your son. I didn’t get what you said earlier,” Mike encouraged, and the older lady sighed heavily.
“Well, it’s a long story,” she began and told Mike all about her kid, whom she raised after her husband died. She worked several jobs to get them by, and years later, when he wanted to start a business, she sold her house to give him the money. Now, she lived in this area in an old home that needed tons of repairs. “He promised he would get it fixed, but nothing. I actually called him when it started to rain earlier, but he said he was busy and hung up. That’s when I saw you and thought I should ask for help.”
“Well, I’m glad I was here to help, and this food is more than enough payment. But thank you too because I would’ve been stranded in the rain if you haven’t called me in,” Mike said and reached for a second helping of lasagna.
“Tell me about yourself. You said you have nowhere to go. What do you mean?” Miriam wondered, eating her food daintily.
“That’s an even longer story, ma’am,” he quipped but obliged and told her everything about his harsh childhood and current living situation. “But it’ll get better. I just proved to myself that I can work hard, so I might be able to go into construction and finally make my dreams come true.”
“What are your dreams?”
“I want to get a saxophone. I was pretty good at it as a kid, but my dad had to sell mine,” he answered and told her about his old scamming neighbor.
“Child, I see that you’ve had a bunch of bad luck, but I also believe that it’s about to change,” Miriam began, and the smile on her face made him frown quizzically.
“My dear late husband was a music teacher… a saxophone teacher, and I have several of his instrument still here,” Miriam revealed, and Mike also dropped his fork full of lasagna.
“No…,” he breathed, shaking his head.
“Yes, I do. So, eat up, and we’ll see what you can do after dinner,” the older woman instructed.
After they cleared the table and washed the dishes, Miriam got one of her old saxophones. Mike took it in his hands reverently, as if he couldn’t believe he was holding it in his hands. He took it to his lips and played one of the tunes he knew from childhood.
Miriam sat down and listened to what he could play, grinning the entire time. “Well, child. You do have skills. My husband would’ve loved to teach you. But I have some of his old music books. You can have them and the saxophone too.”
“I couldn’t. It’s too much,” Mike shook his head.
“You did more for me than my son has done in years. For the first time in a long while, I don’t feel so neglected, so please, take it. Become better at it, and maybe, it will help get your life in order. Sometimes, all you need is one little thing or a moment that turns things around for the better. I hope this saxophone and this moment right now does that for you,” Miriam told him wisely, and Mike’s heart filled with warmth and hope.
The older woman also offered him the couch for the night because the rain would not let up. He left the next day and called his old boss at the construction company. Luckily, they had an opening again and hired him part-time. After seeing that he could work just as hard as before, they bumped him to full-time, which became his day job.
At night, he stood on street corners and paid the saxophone, leaving a hat on the ground for people to tip. The tips increased as his talent improved, and soon, he played covers of current top songs that people loved to hear.
With his steady job and the musical side gig, he found a small apartment for himself and slowly saved up to fix Miriam’s roof properly. After hearing the story, his boss offered him a discount, and his buddies also worked for a lower price.
The older woman was touched. “From now on, you can think of me as a mother, Mikey, dear,” she told him, kissing his cheek when the roof was done.
Mike nodded and held his tears until he returned to his apartment, where he released all the pain of his life through sobs and marveled at the beauty he had finally received. He would never take Miriam for granted or the gift she had given him.
What can we learn from this story?
- Be as kind as you can be because it will surely return to you. Mike fixed Miriam’s roof in the rain expecting nothing in return. But she returned his kindness with a gift he would value forever.
- Never stop dreaming and working towards your goals. Despite his hardships, Mike never stopped dreaming of having a saxophone again. He finally realized his dream, and it was more than he had ever imagined.