He wanted to learn to play the violin. We couldn't afford it, so I put him off.
Later, I was touched by a beautiful cello performance at a free concert. How could I deny my son this amazing gift. I got serious. Maybe I could find a way.
My sister had an old violin that no one was using. My niece had studied the violin. Soon the arrangements were made and it didn't cost us anything.
My son enjoyed the violin, but like most kids he needed encouragement. He practice some, but not as much as we would have liked. Eventually, we began paying for the lessons.
When my son outgrew the violin we began shopping for another. I watched the ads in the paper for used instruments. If the price was right, we went to see it. I always took my niece, because I knew nothing about violins.
I wanted an instrument with good sound. My son was concerned about the appearance of the violin. We saw violins which sounded good but looked hammered. We saw violins which were pretty, but lacked tone.
Finally we found the perfect violin. I liked the price. It was beautiful, had a nice case, and two bows. I couldn't tell what my niece was thinking. She was quiet. "I think it's worth the price," she said softly, without a trace of a smile on her face. We paid the woman and left.
Back in the car, my niece squealed with delight. "What a deal!" she added. "This is your lucky day." It was a fine violin at a price we could afford. It would last my son a long time.
My son played for several years, and then he lost interest. When he was married with children, I noticed the violin stored unceremoniously in the garage.
I was a little offended. "That violin does not belong in the garage," I said.
"You're mad because I don't play it anymore," said my son.
"Not at all," I replied. "We gave you the opportunity. The rest is up to you. You don't need to play the violin to make me happy," "...or to make me love you more," I added. I meant it.
"Then what's the problem?" asked my son.
"This is a valuable instrument. It was given to you at some sacrifice. It doesn't deserve to be stored in a garage."
Some time later, my son's interest in the violin was rekindled. He began practicing. He found a teacher. Occasionally he performed in church and family settings. Then coming home from a funeral where he had performed, the violin was damaged by careless hands at the airport.
My son took the violin to be repaired. The violin technician was impressed with my son's instrument. Quite impressed. He offered to buy it from him.
My son called. "Did you know my violin is valuable?" he asked.
"Yes, I knew."
Because the technician couldn't guarantee that the repair would be satisfactory, my son opted for a new violin. The technician seemed pleased. I think I know why.
My son didn't understand the value of the violin which we gave to him. Of course the violin was only part of the gift.
Now my son is passing the gift on to his three daughters. He can afford three violins. He can afford lessons. However, the gift of his time is priceless.
...and so is the opportunity.