A man is frozen in shock when he offers to pay for an older woman's groceries and recognizes his sweetheart 62 years after they parted ways.
Paul stood there, perplexed. Tears had welled up in his eyes. His face gleamed with unexpected happiness, but deep down, a sadness lurked in his heart as he glanced at the woman in front of him at a grocery shop in Nashville, Tennessee.
She appeared to be in her early eighties, her hands quivering. She seemed disheveled, her clothes were shabby, and she had a tattered appearance.
"Can you kindly let me take the loaf of bread?" she said softly to the cashier. "I haven't eaten anything in days. But I can't pay more than a few cents."
Paul bumped into his first love 62 years after they parted ways | Photo: Shutterstock
The cashier sneered at her and ordered her firmly to leave, and that's when Paul stepped in to pay for her. She gently turned around to thank him for his generosity, and her eyes welled up with tears as well. Paul recognized the birthmark above her upper lip, and his past flashed in front of his eyes.
62 years ago…
September 26, 1959. Paul could never forget that date. He was at a party with friends, playing ping-pong when he first noticed Eden. He was 19 at the time, and she was 18. She was decked in a floral dress, and her very first sight convinced him that she was the ONE.
Paul immediately grabbed a tissue from a nearby table and wrote, "Can I kiss you?" She blushed at the message and nodded yes. Then they left the party and walked to a park, where they strolled leisurely while holding each other's hands and kissed passionately for a brief while.
They began frequently meeting after this encounter, and before they knew it, they were deep in love. They made commitments to each other that they would spend their lives together, but fate interfered and the law, as well as their parents, prevented them from keeping their promise to each other.
Paul and Eden were madly in love | Photo: Pexels
Back then, interracial marriages were not legal in the United States, which posed a significant difficulty for Paul and Eden because Paul was an American, born and raised in California, while Eden was an African, born in Chad and raised in California when her father relocated there for work.
Despite this, they resolved to defy fate and elope one day. But Eden's mom caught her in the act and barred her from leaving the house.
Paul's parents were not in favor of their relationship either, and they relocated to another state to make sure their son didn't "ruin" his life after a stupid pursuit, also tricking him and lying that Eden wasn't the right girl for him and had been cheating on him.
Paul was devastated and decided never to contact Eden again, without giving her a chance to explain herself. But Eden never cheated on him.
She was heartbroken when Paul moved to another town without informing her, and she wrote him multiple letters after discovering where he'd relocated, telling him he was the only one she'd ever loved.
Paul didn't know about all this until he was older and discovered the letters one day while moving out to Tennessee for a job.
Paul discovered Eden's letters, but it was too late by then | Photo: Pexels
Paul's parents had hidden the letters from him, and he didn't know about them until that day. His heart raced as he read them, and flew back to California to look for her, but it was too late. She had vanished without a trace. He asked her neighbors and anyone else he could think of, but it was all for naught.
Paul accepted his destiny and relocated to Tennessee, where he met Jaden. It was more of a rebound for Paul than love with Jaden, but she acted as a distraction for him from thoughts of Eden, and after a few years of marriage and three daughters, Paul began to like her and was content with his family life.
However, another tragedy struck the man 25 years into their marriage, and Jaden died from cancer. By then, the kids were grown up, but Paul made sure to look after them until they were married and settled.
But now that he was often alone, he loathed in loneliness, sometimes wondering why fate had been so cruel to his beloved wife and if he'd ever meet Eden again.
"Um…Eden… is that you?" Paul stuttered at the woman's sight, his mouth agape.
Paul was really alone after his wife's death | Photo: Pexels
She quickly averted her gaze at the unexpected question, hiding her tears, and hurried away with the bag of bread. Paul wondered if he was mistaken and the woman wasn't Eden, but his heart told him otherwise.
He gazed into her eyes, and they were the same ones he'd seen 62 years before, and her voice, though faltering, had a familiar sweetness and tone the Eden he once knew and loved possessed. He hurried out of the store, convinced he didn't make a mistake in identifying his first love.
Fortunately, she was still visible despite the thick snow falling around them, and he ran over to her before she vanished, as she did 62 years ago.
"I know it's you, Eden! I know I can't be wrong. Please listen to me!" he said, tapping her shoulder from behind.
However, she moved her shoulder in such a way that she didn't want him to touch it and turned around. "I believe you are mistaken, sir. I'm not Eden," she said with a slight smile on her face and tears in her eyes.
Paul dashed behind the old woman | Photo: Pexels
"I know you never cheated on me. I received the letters, but it was too late. I'm sorry," he said abruptly, and the woman's smile gradually faded into a desperate expression. She hid her face behind her hands and burst into tears.
"THEN WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME? WHY DIDN'T YOU COME LOOKING FOR ME?!" she muttered, crying uncontrollably.
Paul gave her his overcoat and took her to a nearby cafe. He ordered a cup of warm coffee for her and gently asked, "What happened, Eden? How come you're here in Tennessee and in this condition?"
The woman, still sobbing, wiped her tears and narrated her whole story.
It turns out after Eden and Paul parted ways, Eden's parents made her marry a man named Micheal from Tennessee. He was a builder and, unfortunately, was killed in a horrific accident on one of the construction sites.
After he passed away, Eden had to look after their 4 adopted children alone. She somehow supported them financially to the point that they got good jobs and were settled well. However, once they were on their feet, they saw their mother as a burden and refused to care for her.
Paul and Eden spent the evening in a cafe | Photo: Pexels
At the age of 80, Eden was unable to work and was surviving on her little resources. However, when it was finished, she found herself struggling to make ends meet.
Paul's heart sank as he heard how terrible and harsh life had been for Eden. He offered her help and gently asked, "If you don't mind, you can stay with me, Eden. Will that be okay with you?"
"No, Paul," Eden said, embarrassed. "I don't want to become a burden on anyone. I really don't want to be a source of problems for anyone."
"Unfortunately, Eden," Paul murmured, resting his hand on hers, "life hasn't been so kind to me, either. My wife died years ago, and my daughters are married and settled in other countries. I believe it was fate that brought us together. Will you not give me a chance to finish what we couldn't before?"
Eden couldn't contain her tears when Paul said that. However, she wasn't ready yet. "I appreciate your help, Paul, but there's a lot that has happened. I need some time to think about it."
Paul respected her decision and assured her things would be fine soon. And from that day on, he frequented her house and helped her.
Paul and Eden tied the knot | Photo: Pexels
Eden couldn't control her feelings for Paul no matter how hard she tried, and she fell in love with him all over again as time passed. One year down the line, she decided to marry him and proposed to him. Paul enthusiastically agreed, and they had a modest, sweet wedding in a Nashville church, attended by Paul's daughters and several of their close neighbors.
Eden's children refused to attend their wedding, which made her feel awful, but she was delighted to be with her first love and his family who accepted her wholeheartedly.
What can we learn from this story?
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