A week after my father passed away, a thick hand-written letter was delivered to my door. I eagerly opened it and sat down by the window to read.
When I was your age, I saw life as a precious gift given to each of us on the day of our birth. But now I understand that it is a loan. Life is given to us temporarily. It comes with a deadline for payment, except nobody tells us when it is due.
Life comes with a purpose. Much too often we get so busy with our daily tasks that we completely forget about purpose. The lucky ones receive a call from their heart reminding them about the purpose of the loan of life. A careful listener takes the debt seriously and begins working on making regular payments. Others start working only after receiving a life-threatening fine.
I am leaving you this letter and a small package containing a gift to help you become an honorable steward of your life. Open the package when you finish reading my letter. I know you are very busy with your work at the bank, but I want to ask you to consider my proposition. I promise that it will be worth your time and effort and that no one can do it better than you. It will bring you joy and a real sense of accomplishment.
One becomes a true steward of their life when they begin paying back the loan of life with interest.
I have been a vineyard owner for many years. I grew useful plants and worked hard to become successful. I made enough money to feed our entire family. We've always had grapes, good wine, and oil on our table; and we generously shared our fortune with others.
I’ve always had a great passion for growing grapes. Caring for my vineyard has taught me a lot about life. Above all, it has taught me to always be vigilant. I’ve had to watch out for soil quality and the health of my vines, highly competitive weeds, and hungry birds that prey on the fruits of my labor.
Whenever my plants bore fruit, I rejoiced. But I never let my happiness and wellbeing blind me. I knew that I shouldn’t use all grapes and seeds for the production of wine and oil, just as I must not spend all the profit on the enjoyment of life. I reinvested some of the seeds to create a new generation of plants.
I’ve lived a good life with no regrets. It is only now, on my deathbed, that I feel I haven’t fully paid my dues. I haven’t made my most essential payment. When I die, all my wisdom will die with me. All my life I have been too scared to give away my secrets of successful planting. Now I feel I’ve been selfish and greedy. My old heart filled with a wine of sorrow when I realized that I no longer have time to share my planter’s experience with anyone. I failed to pay back all the interest on my loan of life, and I will not be able to rest in peace until I fix my mistake.
Children with bare feet are waiting for their pair of shoes and guidance. Passing on our wisdom to them is the ultimate achievement and fulfillment of life’s purpose.
My son, my letter to you is a crucial part of my last will and testament. I want you to take over our family vineyard. I can only hope that you will accept my challenging but promising offer. I am sure you are the best person to take good care of our grapes. Your outstanding skills in finance management will help you shine your brightest in the wine business. Learn as much as you can about growing grapes, and the rest will come naturally. You are the most honest, generous, and vigilant person I know, and I am very proud of you.
If you spend your loan of life on a worthy purpose and pay it back with interest, multitudes will benefit from paid interest, and you'll become the true steward of your life. Live well, my child, and remember to share your wisdom. Good luck, son!
PS. Now open the package and look inside."
I opened a well-sealed package. There was a large notebook titled "The Secrets of the Vineyard Owner" and a pouch with grape seeds taped to its back cover. I read the first page of the notebook out loud, and then pressed it tightly to my chest, grateful, savoring my father’s wise words:
“During our life journey, we all plant various types of seeds, both literally and symbolically. If you don't know what kind of seed you are planting, you won't be able to take proper care of the seedling, and as a result, your plant will grow frail and fruitless. Worst case, you will unintentionally grow an invasive plant that will cause harm to all plants in the neighborhood.
It’s vital to choose the right seeds to grow useful plants. I am happy to welcome you to the fascinating book of grape-growing wisdom.”
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My Father's Last Will (the title of the original fiction story: My Father's Last Will and Testament) was first published in Illumination on May 21, 2020. Written by Ksenia Sein © 2020 All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.