A man takes his aging single father back to his hometown for a visit and the two end up reconnecting with their pasts and forging a new future.
If ever a man loved and respected his father it was John Gordon. He was 38 and he had been raised by a single dad back when single parents of either sex were rare.
Paul Gordon had been an extraordinary father and John adored him. Even as a grown man with his own life and family, he was close to John and the two spent a lot of time together.
When John was 65, he told his son he wanted to go back to his hometown, and John asked to go along. It was to be the most significant journey in both their lives.
John and Paul drove down to East Texas, to the small town where the older man had been born and raised. As they drove into town, John started pointing out the landmarks he remembered from his youth.
"Look, see that diner? We used to go there after school for root beer!" he cried. "And that's my high school, and that's... where your mom used to live..."
There are no accidents and no coincidences. Fate moves us to where we need to be.
John nearly swerved off the road. In his entire life, his father had never spoken about his mother, not ever. Now he was pointing out her childhood home! "It was?" asked John carefully. "Wow... And where did you live?"
"Three houses down..." Paul said. "See that house with the green porch and the green storm shutters? That's my old house!"
Paul told John he wanted to go back to his East Texas hometown. | Source: Unsplash
"So you and mom knew each other when you were kids?" asked John.
"Yes," Paul said dreamily. "I was in love with her by the time we were in first grade... She was just the prettiest girl in the world to me..."
"And then?" John prodded cautiously.
"Oh, I was infinitely in love with her, but she..." Paul paused, then continued in a sad voice. "She didn't see me that way, you know? She thought of me as the kid next door, her best friend, not a man she could love."
"But here I am!" John cried. "So sooner or later there was a happy ending, right?"
The two men drove down to Paul's hometown in East Texas. | Source: Unsplash
Paul said softly, "Pull over son," and after John did, he replied. "When she was eighteen, your mom fell pregnant. The guy vanished as soon as she told him, and after you were born...well, her father was a high-ranking officer here at the base, and he was posted to Germany. Your mom's parents talked her into leaving you at the local orphanage and starting a new life in Europe.
"She agreed, she left you, but me? I couldn't bear to think of even the smaller part of her being unhappy and unloved, so I went to the orphanage and told them I was your father. In those days, there were no DNA tests, so they gave you to me."
"You raised me and I wasn't even yours!" John gasped.
"And that's... where your mom used to live..." | Source: Unsplash
"You WERE mine," Paul cried fiercely. "You were and you still are MY son. I love you John and believe me, I couldn't love you more if I'd been the one to plant the seed!"
John was weeping, tears running down his face, and so was Paul. The two men hugged awkwardly. "Now," Paul cried. "Let's put an end to all this crying and stuff! Turn right at the next intersection. That's where the SeaView Hotel is."
The next day, the two men went into the center of town and walked around. Paul even knocked on the door of his old house and explained to the woman who answered that he had grown up in the house.
The two started chatting and it turned out that the woman was the daughter of one of Paul's school chums. Meanwhile, John, who was standing by the gate, saw a woman stepping out of the house Paul had pointed out as his mother's.
"I was in love with her by the time we were in first grade... " | Source: Unsplash
The woman was talking on the phone as she dragged her suitcase behind her. She stood on the sidewalk and John heard her yell desperately: "I ordered the car service a week ago! Now I'm going to miss my plane!"
John walked over and said, "Look, I'm sorry but I overheard you. Would you like me to drive you to the airport? I promise you, I'm not a nut."
The woman laughed and John noticed that even though she was in her sixties, she was really very pretty with soft silvery hair and brilliant blue eyes. "You're very kind," she replied. "And I'd be very grateful if you did!"
John ran into his father's old house and told Paul he was taking a neighbor to the airport and would be right back, then he walked the woman to the car. "I'm Astrid Turner," she introduced herself with a smile.
"When she was eighteen, your mom fell pregnant." | Source: Unsplash
"John," John said. "John Gordon." He set the GPS for the airport and started driving.
Astrid frowned. "I used to know a Paul Gordon when I was a girl," she said. "Any relation?"
"Yes," said John. "He's my dad."
"Your father is a wonderful person," Astrid said. "But I'm sure you know that. He was my best friend, but we lost touch when I was eighteen..." Astrid turned her face towards the window and John could see that she was crying.
"Are you alright?" he asked gently. "Do you want me to stop?"
"I went to the orphanage and told them I was your father." | Source: Unsplash
"No," whispered Astrid. "It's just that this is the first time I've come back to this town since I was eighteen, and I have a lot of regrets. One of them is that I abandoned my baby. I left him in an orphanage and I've never forgiven myself.
"The other is that I walked away from Paul Gordon. He was there for me, he loved me, and I couldn't bear to look him in the eyes. I was too ashamed to tell him that I was falling in love with him too, even though I was pregnant with another man's baby..."
John stopped the car and reversed. "I'm taking you back," he said. "I'm afraid you are going to miss your flight, Mom!"
"What...What did you say?" she gasped.
John offered the pretty older woman a lift. | Source: Unsplash
"Paul refused to allow a child of yours to grow up in an orphanage," John told her. "So after you left, he went to the orphanage and claimed he was my father. Then he became my father. I think you two need to talk."
Astrid was sobbing and looking at John with wonder in her eyes. "He did that? You're my baby? My son?"
When they arrived back at Paul's old house, he was just stepping out. He saw John's car and waved. "You're back so soon?" he asked, then he caught a glimpse of the woman sitting next to John.
"Astrid?" he asked. "Is that you?"
Astrid and Paul got married and John was the best man. | Source: Unsplash
Astrid jumped out of the car and ran towards Paul. "You took care of my boy?" she asked. "You still loved me even though I had someone else's baby?"
Paul took Astrid's trembling hands in his. "Always and forever," he said tenderly and John turned away from the embarrassing vision of his parents kissing like passionate teenagers.
Astrid, who had never married, decided to move back to the States and moved in with Paul. Six months later, she married Paul and John had a dual role. He gave away the bride, and he was the groom's best man.
Sadly, three years later, Paul was diagnosed with terminal cancer, but he told Astrid: "I'm the happiest man in the world, and I'm dying with no regrets. And now, my love, it's your turn to take care of John..."
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