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  by Lisa Ulrich

His father had taught him to drive on this road.  He remembered how he had 
clumsily shifted the gears of the old car, stalling at almost every turn.  
Patiently, his father would explain for the tenth time how he should slowly 
take his foot off of the clutch.   He tried to make him feel less 
selfconscious with tales of his own efforts at first learning to drive, but 
that was hard to imagine.  His father was a smart man.  A good man.  If he 
could be half as wise and half as loved, he would be content.  But, 
contentment was not what he felt at this moment.  What would his father 
think, he wondered, if he were here now.  How he wished that he could just 
ring him up and ask his advice.  He always knew what to say and how to say 
it, to make you come to the conclusion that was right in front of you all 
along.  But, what would he say about this?

Reaching the field, he dropped the ball and started kicking it around.  
Another skill he had learned from his father, and one that he was quite good 
at.  Good enough, if fact, to earn him a scholarship to the University.  His 
father was quite insistent that he attend college, urging him to explore the 
world and all of the options available to him.    Deep in thought, he hardly 
noticed the clouds that gradually covered the sky.  A brisk wind blew up.  
"It's a blustery day, Pooh", he said to himself with a smile.  He couldn't 
help but chuckle at the memory of his father, a grown man, getting more 
enjoyment out of the A. A. Milne classics than his young son did.  The 
multi-faceted character that my father was, he thought, his heart suddenly 
heavy.  He missed him so.

Walking into his mother's house, he soaked in the love that was so evident in 
the home.  Even now, when his older sisters had moved out and two years after 
his father had passed on, there was no emptiness to the rooms, no sad aura.   
He found his mother in her study, hard at work on her latest fund raising 
effort for the local women's shelter.  She did not hear him come in, did not 
notice him standing there, as she intently wrote notes and stuffed envelopes. 
  As he watched her, he thought of all that she had been through in her 65 
years on this earth, what a life she had led.   She certainly had taken a 
turn or two in her own road.  Would she be disappointed in him?  She had been 
so enthusiastic during his college years, encouraging him all along in, what 
everyone assumed, was soon to be his profession.  His father encouraged him, 
but his enthusiasm was a bit more restrained, almost as if he knew that this 
was not the right path.  But, now he would never know what his father would 
say, or what he would think.  

Hoping to finally get this weight off of his shoulders, he walked up to his 
mother and tapped her on the shoulder.  She started, then sighed, a bright 
smile lighting up her face.   Before he knew it, he was sitting comfortably 
in the kitchen, drinking a cup of tea and pouring his heart out to his 
mother.   He explained to her that all of his years of training and 
preparation only convinced him more that the route he was on was not the 
right one.  He knew in his soul that it wasn't.  He also knew what the right 
path was.  Holding his breath, he stood up and walked over to where his 
mother was sitting.  He took her hand and said, "I have a calling to the 
priesthood. I know this and I am ready to do whatever it takes to make it 
work."  He expressed his deep concern that he not disappoint her or his 
father.  "But", he said, "I do know that the life of a professional   
football player is not for me.  I know that this is what I've trained for and 
what everyone sees when they think of me and of my future.  But, it just 
isn't the right thing for me.  I've tried to make it work,  but, my heart 
just isn't in it.  I just go through the motions.  I only ask that you 
understand that I need to be who I am, and what I am is someone who has a 
genuine vocation.  I pray that you will and hope that dad would have 
understood as well.  But, of that I can never be sure."

But, she knew exactly what her husband would have thought about their son's 
dilemma, about his struggle to do right by those he loved,  yet follow his 
own heart.   Assumpta looked up into her son's green eyes.  She smiled and 
said, "Have you heard the polar bear joke?".

                                                 ***THE END***