Renaldo was a cobbler by trade, just like his father before him and his father before him. Renaldo had lived in the same town as his forbears. He went about his daily activities with a certain comfort. There was a dearth of surprises in Renaldo’s life, and for the most part, that’s the way Renaldo liked it.
Sometimes though, when the nitrogen in the atmosphere made the moon that certain shade of light green, Renaldo allowed himself to think about his secret dream – to build an epic art gallery along the river of a big city. As a boy, his Uncle Marino, a well-known architect in the city of Palentine, had given Renaldo a 1000-piece Lego set as a birthday gift. From the moment Renaldo built his first Lego structure, he knew that, like his Uncle, designing and building buildings was his passion.
As Renaldo had approached the end of high school, now 30 years ago, all he could think of was attending architecture school in Palentine. He’d submitted a portfolio of his designs to the school and had taken the bus to Palentine to be interviewed by the admissions board and to get a tour of the school. A few weeks later he received a letter of acceptance for the fall. He’d attend school during the school year and hopefully apprentice with Uncle Marino in the summers.
What Renaldo didn’t do was tell his family his passion, his desire, and his intention to leave home and his career as a cobbler aside. Lacking a will to confront or to be confronted, Renaldo decided the safest plan was to go quietly and leave a letter behind that his family would find. There was no easy or painless way to do it, but he felt the letter was the least painful of the options.
Renaldo’s 80 year-old grandmother lived with them and they took care of her. His parents had married late in life and Renaldo was their only child. At 60 years old they were approaching a slowdown in their toil. It would be important for Renaldo to pick up the slack they left. Except Renaldo wasn’t going to be there.
The mid-August day came when he packed his bags and had his bus ticket ready. He left on Saturday morning at 6 a.m., with his letter on his dresser. At 6:05 .a.m. He was en route to Palentine, ETA 9 a.m. Renaldo got as comfortable as he could in the bus seat and planned to nap until then.
He was awakened by the bus’ sudden stop. Looking at his watch, he saw it was 8:30 and they were in rural country. What was going on? A policeman climbed aboard the bus and spoke with the driver. Over the intercom, the driver said, “Would Renaldo Palmer please come to the front of the bus?” Shocked to hear his name, Renaldo sat bolt upright. The bus driver repeated the request and Renaldo approached the front of the bus. The police officer motioned for Renaldo to come outside. Once they were away from the bus, the police officer said,
“Mr. Palmer, I regret to inform you that your father passed away this morning. His heart gave way and the hospital was not able to revive him. Your mother called our station and asked that we come and find you and bring you back.”
The bus driver retrieved Renaldo’s bags from the luggage compartment and soon he was on his way back to his home with the officer. On the drive back there was little conversation as Renaldo was lost in the grief of two deaths that day.