Antonio Patches was a lonely man.
Each day, he would go to work in worn denim dungarees, carrying an assortment of tools in his old leather bag. And each night, he would trudge back home, dirty and smelly, covered in stains and reeking of grease and oil.
He was a mechanic, a job he held close to ten years.
Everyone in town trusted him with their cars, bicycles, even their appliances. Everyone knew that if there was anything wrong with anything mechanical, Antonio Patches was the one to call.
The work was good.
It was work that sustained his family’s needs and for that he was thankful. .
Yet, it did not sustain his soul.
You see, all his life, Antonio had wanted to be a hairdresser.
He loved hair. He knew how to cut, color, and style. Give him a mangy mane and he could tame the frizz out of it. He could do magic on hair. He could straighten it without defiance or coax the gentlest, softest curls from it. He had an amazing natural talent but he had never dared share it with anyone except his family.
His wife, Dorothy, admired his wonderful talent. Antonio had been cutting and styling her hair for years, but it was a secret he demanded her to keep.
Their kids, Bella and Bertie, knew haircuts were dad’s turf at home as a matter of rule but they thought all their friends’ dads probably did the same.
For years, Dorothy had known that Antonio was unhappy in his job. He would rather fiddle with scissors and curling irons than wrenches and bolts. She knew he had been dreaming of quitting for a long time. But the thought of their mortgage, the kids’ education, and all their bills always stopped him from taking the leap and fulfilling his dream.
On that last Friday of May, as Antonio headed to work, Dorothy Patches had other things on her mind. She had been planning a surprise for her husband for months and today was the day he would get it. She finished all her chores in a hurry. She was so excited she had butterflies in her stomach!
A little past noon, she bundled up the baby and quickly headed to an old building on Perth Path.
“Hello, Dorothy!” she heard a familiar voice call out. Mayor Kittymama was already at the sidewalk, waiting, papers in hand
“The workers finished up inside this morning and will be back at five to remove the window and door covers. Have you told Antonio yet?” the Mayor inquired.
“Tonight’s the night, Kittymama. This is Antonio’s surprise gift! I’ve been saving for years for a cruise on our anniversary but when this came up in the market, suddenly, the cruise didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.” Dorothy answered.
“Well, congratulations, dear. Here are your licenses and the final papers from City Hall. Good luck to you and Antonio!” Kittymama bade Mrs. Patches goodbye.
Clutching the deed of sale, Dorothy quickly headed home to change. She spotted the kids walking home from school and ran to catch up with them.
“Mommy, does Daddy know?” Bella asked.
“We’ll tell him together, Bella. You, me, Bertie, baby, ” Dorothy replied with a smile.
A few minutes past six, they heard the front door open. They all ran to Antonio, still in his dirty dungarees and holding his work bag.
“A surprise?” Antonio looked at Dorothy, seemingly confused. “Why are you all dressed like that? Is it Halloween yet?”
“There? Where’s there? Where are we going? Why? What?” Antonio mumbled, a bit dazed.
“Oh, Dadee, it’s a supwise, silly,” Baby Bitty chuckled.
His eyes covered, Antonio navigated the short distance with Dorothy and the kids’ help. When they stopped, Dorothy turned him around and took the blindfold off.
“Surpise!” they all shouted together.
Antonio looked at the building in front of him, speechless.
“Tomorrow, you are calling Mr. Underwood at the shop to give him notice. The rest of the hair supplies and equipment will come by Sunday. You can open as soon as you want, dear,” Dorothy said gently.
“Since we will need two salaries until you get settled, I accepted the position of Dinner Lady at Bella’s and Bertie’s school. Here, look! That way, I can also monitor what they’re eating, while making sure all the kids get nutritious, filling food in school. You know how I always complain about the school lunches they used to serve…” she replied.
“And Bitty? Who’ll take care of her?” he queried timidly.
“They have daycare at the school, and it’s free! C’mon, honey, look at the paper please!” Dorothy insisted.
“But you know the kids’ tuitions are so expensive. My salary’s barely enough to pay for school as it is,” he said.
“Daddy, we have swim scholarships! After we won in all of last year’s swim meets, the town council decided to sponsor us -school, training, and all- even our new uniforms! Isn’t it great?” By then, the kids were jumping up and down with glee.
“You see, Antonio, we can make this happen. You’ve given up so much for us all these years. You deserve something really good in your life. Now it’s our turn to make your dreams come true,” his wife whispered in his ear.
Antonio could barely contain the joy in his heart. After all these years, he will start living his dream. This gift meant everything to him, made even more meaningful by the sacrifice and hard work of those he loved more than his own life.
And with that, Antonio Patches was a lonely man no more.
The Patches Dog Family
The Beauty Salon