September 21, 2021
A man stumbles upon a stranger's picture on his grandmother's phone after he offered to help her fix it — what he discovers after quizzing her about the picture rocks his world.
John was losing his mind. His grandmother Claire was not answering his calls, and because he was such a worrier, he could not make peace with that.
He knew she was always with her cellphone; in fact, after the heart attack she suffered a month before, he had warned her always to keep her cell nearby as he would often like to check up on her.
Claire, who also had an unbelievable zest for life, did not mind John's doting. On the contrary, she welcomed it, which was what made him feel anxious when he could not reach her.
After thirty minutes of trying, John decided to go to her house to check up on her. I'm just being paranoid, nothing is happening, he told himself as he drove the short distance between his home and Claire's.
When he reached her front door, he didn't bother knocking; he virtually ran through the house looking for her. He found her tending her hydrangeas in her little garden, looking very much alive.
John gave a relieved sigh before proceeding to scold Claire affectionately for not picking up her phone. "You had me worried Claire," John said.
"Oh I'm sorry dear," she replied airily. "I got carried away spending time with my plants, but even if I had not gotten so engrossed I would not have been able to take your call."
"Why?" I asked.
"I spilled some hot tea on my phone and it stopped working," Claire said, looking ashamed.
"That's okay grandma, I'll fix it for you. I'm just glad you're alright," John replied affectionately.
He spoke for a while longer with Claire before he took her phone with him. Then when he got to his neighborhood, he dropped it off at the shop to have it fixed then went home.
The next day, he retrieved the phone in perfect working condition. He decided to try to execute some functions to see if the job was authentic, but that thought was derailed when he came across his grandmother's screensaver.
It was a picture of a stranger posing with his arms around her. The picture was a digital shot of an old photo, and his grandma looked younger and in love. He got very curious about the man and made a mental note to ask about him when he returned the phone.
"Who is the strange handsome man you were posing with in this picture gran?" John asked Claire as soon as he handed the phone over to her.
"Oh honey, that's your grandfather," Claire said.
"But you have always said there were no pictures of him and that he died before I was born," John replied, confused.
"At this point, I have no idea if he is alive or not," Claire told John sadly. Her tone pulled on his heartstrings, so he could not help but ask her to tell him about her relationship with the stranger.
"I never married because my heart always belonged to another," Claire began.
She told him that the man in the picture was Jonathan, a salesman who moved to Seadrift, her town, as a young man. They fell in love with each other, and whenever they met, Jonathan would pick hydrangeas to present to her.
One day, he was called away for duty. He promised to return but he never did. He just disappeared. Claire found out she was pregnant with his baby in the course of waiting for him. One month turned into two and two into six, but still, she waited.
Just after she had her baby, a strong hurricane ravaged the town, leaving a lot of destruction and death in its wake. Claire's house was not spared, and with most of the town in the same state, she had to move.
Claire was a very fair woman who continued to attract male attention even though she was already a mother. However, she paid those men no heed because she was already in love with one — Jonathan.
So in memory of her days with him, she would plant hydrangeas and wear a fresh one in her hair every day. John was almost crying by the time Claire was done, but one look at the sky saw him sobering up and moving into action.
It was getting dark and stormy; he needed to get on the road because he hated driving under heavy rain. So after a quick goodbye to Claire, he headed out in his car.
Worried about the bad weather, he didn't pay attention to traffic, and one car suddenly swerved into his path, which made him react by stepping on the brakes too suddenly for the driver behind him to slow down.
The car that swerved and caused the disorder quickly raced off after seeing the chaos he had caused, while John was left to deal with the angry driver whose car rammed into him from behind.
"I'm very sorry sir," John said.
"That's okay. I know it was not your fault, I only came down to inspect the damage," the kind-looking man answered.
At first glance, John thought the man looked familiar, but he got distracted by the damage on the man's car. While inspecting it, John caught sight of hydrangeas in the backseat and suddenly remembered the sad love story his granny told him.
"Well I'll be off then," the old man said with a smile.
But as John focused on the man's face again, he suddenly remembered the old photo on his grandmother's phone and saw a resemblance between the strange driver and his granny's lover.
"Jonathan?" he blurted almost unconsciously. He half expected the man to deny the name. But he didn't.
"How do you know my name?" the man asked. "Perhaps we've met before?"
"I assure you we haven't," John told him, a frown forming on his face. "But now that we're here, I believe we were fated to meet."
"Excuse me?" Jonathan asked. "Are you saying you're a psychic or something?"
"No. I'm just the grandson of the woman you promised to marry."
Right there on the side of the road, with a storm brewing, John accused Jonathan of abandoning his grandmother, leaving her to pined for him all her life and never marrying because of him. John was fuming but then Jonathan spoke up.
The man revealed he never stopped loving John's grandmother. Apparently, he had been called to service and taken to Vietnam. And when he returned to their town, she was no longer there. He lost track of her after the hurricane because she moved.
It turned out Jonathan never married either because Claire had been the only woman he had ever loved. In her memory, he always bought hydrangeas, but there was no one to give them to, so he always just admired them.
Having heard Jonathan's story, John's frown turned into a smile. "She lives in this neighborhood!!!" he shouted.
Instead of heading back home that day, John took Jonathan to Claire's house. The moment Claire set eyes on Jonathan, even though it had been decades, she recognized him in an instant and screamed.
They hugged and cried and promised to spend the rest of their lives together. The following week, the two were married. Why? Because it's never too late for love.
What did we learn from this story?
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a soldier who returns to his girlfriend, but is shocked by what he sees.
This account is inspired by our reader's story but written by a professional writer. All names have been changed to protect identities and ensure privacy. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 18, 2021