“A Grandfather’s Dilemma is the story of Tom Rider, the spoiled, sole heir of Rider Distilleries. The story begins with an unexpected visit from Ms. Sara Rider and her son, Tom, to Mr. Larry Dexter, author of the successful book, Developing Character. Based on what Ms. Rider has read, she is absolutely convinced that only Mr. Dexter could help Tom become a wise, objective, ethical individual and outstanding CEO.
At first Mr. Dexter refuses to help Tom. However, after some persistence from Ms. Rider, he accepts the challenge under some tough conditions for Tom who is used to getting his way.
As the story unfolds, the reader will be engaged into their character developing struggles, steep learning curve, and gratifying moments. Mr. Dexter’s system is a mix of tough love, establishing clear rules and the consequences for breaking them, persistency, study of the Word of God and leading by example. The author shows why one should never underestimate the power of prayers, the wisdom that comes with age, and mercy. The end of the book, although dramatic, fits the novella’s overall theme–compassion!
I recommend A Grandfather’s Dilemma, to parents of teens and young adults who are looking for an astute method to raise a man of integrity.” Tannia Ortiz-Lopes at CatholicFiction.net on July 17, 2014
Larry Dexter is an elderly man put in an unexpected predicament. He faces death from old age and has settled all his worldly affairs when a middle-aged woman and her adult son show up on his doorstep. She claims the young man is his grandson. Is he? Moreover, she tells the old man that her son has major character flaws needing someone of his ability to redeem him. He refuses to take on the responsibility. She insists. In any case, how could an unwilling you man be changed? Is it possible that age can bring with it weapons of unusual teaching abilities?
I was in the living room, alone as usual, with my palms lifted to the ceiling, praying. I had done everything a man could do in this life, and I begged to be released from my earthly bondage. My bags were packed, rhetorically speaking, and I was ready to go.
Still, as much for my sake as for communicating my wishes to God, I said, as always, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” That’s when the knock came pounding on the door. Irritated, I lowered my arms and strode to the front door. A beautiful brunette with several streaks of gray in her hair stood there, staring at me with her hazel eyes. “Can I help you?” I asked.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “My name is Sara Rider, and this is my son, Tom.” She was pointing at a young man, about twenty-five and of average height, who was wearing a dark scowl. Both wore expensive-looking business suits of deep blue. “May we come in?”
“I’m really not interested in buying anything today,” I said.
“We’re not selling,” she said. “We’re buying.”
“But I’m not selling anything.”
“Please, Mr. Drexel, hear me out.”
Against my better judgment, I opened the door wider to allow them to enter. “I don’t have a lot of time, so please get to the point—and how did you know my name?”
She gave me a lovely smile and asked if they could sit down. I nodded. “Mr. Drexel,” she said, sitting in the lounge chair and crossing her legs, “I’ve read your book Developing Character. In it, you quote Aristotle. I believe it was something like, ‘Strength of character is akin to strength of muscles. It results from rigorous and sustained training by a good coach.’ I’d like to hire you to develop my son’s character.”
I snorted and shook my head. “Evidently, Mrs. Rider, you fail to understand the point of my book. Character is the aggregate of traits that form someone’s nature. My book was directed to those who have a sincere desire to improve their character. Lacking that desire, there is little hope for improvement. Evidently, your son doesn’t have the slightest inclination to improve himself; otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. I can’t help you Mrs. Rider. When he’s ready, have him read the book.”
“It’s Miss Rider, and I’m not looking for an author, but rather a coach. Do I look like a fool? I’m perfectly aware of the attributes that go into developing one’s inner nature and reputation—from morals to virtues and attitude. I am not asking for miracles, but only that the most important step to improving one’s character be taken by my son—that is, that he want to improve his own character. For that, I need the best coach I can find.”
“Miss Rider,” I said, “I am seventy-eight years old and retired. I have no intention of taking on any new responsibility, much less teaching a young man character.”
“He is not just any young man; he’s your grandson.”
Stunned at her lie, I said, “I think you had better leave. My only son was in an auto accident twenty-five years ago and cannot move, talk, or understand anything around him. He’s been in a nursing home all that time. I have no desire to play games with you.”
“I am not playing games. I’m willing to pay for a DNA test from an expert of your choosing. Let me make one thing clear: I am the sole owner of the largest distiller of spirits in North America and have more money than I can spend. I have no wish to harm you or your son. I need your help, and I’m willing to pay for it.”
I was dumbfounded and became even more so as she went on. “Your son and I made a mistake a long time ago. If my father hadn’t been so ashamed of my pregnancy and sent me away to give Tom birth, your son and I might have gotten married—who knows? By the time I returned to Maryland, your son had had his accident and I was alone. Mind you, I’m glad to have Tom here with me. When my father died, I inherited the business and considerable wealth.”
“I have no need for money,” I said.
“I can pay for all of Ben’s medical and nursing home bills for the rest of his life,” she replied.
Shaking my head, I told her that I had already set up a trust fund for that purpose.
“Can you be assured that after your death, Ben will be cared for as you would want him to be? I can give you that assurance.”
“I trust the nursing home people and the trust manager.”
“What is it that you want?” she asked. “Tell me and I’ll provide it.” With that, her son Tom smirked in my direction. I wanted to put a fist in his face, grandson or not.
“Miss Rider, the desire to improve is everything.”
“Oh, believe me, he has the desire to do everything you ask of him.”
I raised my hand in Tom Rider’s direction. He was still smirking. “Why do I doubt that?” I asked, not expecting an answer.
She didn’t waste a second before answering. “He will do exactly what you ask. If he does, I will retire and turn over the business to him when he turns thirty. If he doesn’t, the business will be given to its employees. I have already changed my will to provide for the latter. I will not change it back unless you tell me he has followed every nit and nanny of direction you have given him.”
“Miss Rider, I have a calm and peaceful life. I’m retired. You want to place something so momentous in your lives on my shoulders. I don’t want it. I’ve never seen either of you until this moment. Surely, his character can’t be so bad, and if it is, then surely you must know there are others who develop character for a living.”
“Mr. Drexel, in the past year, Tom encouraged a young employee of ours to have sex with him. When she got pregnant, he forced her to have an abortion. I tried to pay her family a considerable amount of money to keep Tom out of jail. They refused my offer and ignored me. I have no idea what the future holds with that family.
“Tom treats all of our employees as his personal servants. Our bookkeeper complains that Tom takes our equipment and cash as his personal property. I’m ready to throw in the towel. This is his last chance. Of course, there are others besides yourself familiar with character building, but I can’t trust them to be more interested in Tom as a person than as a business entity. You are his grandfather, and as you’ve already proven, you can’t be bought.”
I refused to be suckered into this responsibility. Speaking directly to Tom Rider for the first time, I said, “Earlier, your mother quoted Aristotle about building character being similar to building muscle. Aristotle also said that we become good people by doing good things. May I suggest to you that before you solve a problem, you ask yourself whether your solution is a good thing? If you do this for every problem you face over the next five years, your character will be such that your mother will give you the business.”
“Yes, Grandfather,” Tom said smugly.
I was wasting my breath. Turning to Sara Rider, I said, “I understand your concern, but sometimes failure is the only teacher left. It is a long life, and there are those who need a lifetime to learn the lessons and benefits that a virtuous life provide. We find slow learners in every subject, and building character is no different.”
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