A man welcomes a new neighbor and is stunned to see a photo of his long-lost mother as a young woman in his house. He discovers they have a surprising connection.
Sam Darson had grown up as a single child, raised by a single mother, and he'd always longed for a big family. When he married Frannie, they had both agreed they'd have lots of children.
Ten years later, Sam and Frannie had three lovely children, a nice house, and a very comfortable life. Sam should have been happy but he always felt that something was missing, until Alex Winstobb moved in next door.
Sam had always longed for a big family and siblings. | Source: Unsplas
Sam saw the moving van pull up on Saturday morning and said to his wife, "Looks like they finally sold the old Garrow house! I hope they are nice people!"
"I hope they have kids!" Fran replied. "It would be nice to have new playmates for our children."
As it turned out, Alex didn't have any children. He was a bachelor about five years older than Sam, but he was a very nice person. And as it turned out, he and Sam had a lot in common.
Children should not suffer from the mistakes of their parents.
Frannie started inviting Alex over for dinner at least once a week, and before long, Alex was part of the family. The kids even started calling him Uncle Alex. As for Sam, he finally had someone he could share manly pursuits with.
The two men went bowling, fishing, and tinkered for hours with Alex's vintage Harley Davidson. Sam was very envious of that bike. He'd always wanted one, but Frannie had put her foot down.
Sam saw that someone was moving in next door. | Source: Unsplash
However, she couldn't object to Sam riding out with Alex once in a while! Raised without a father or a brother, Sam had always craved the kind of male bonding he was now experiencing with Alex.
Alex seemed just as invested in their friendship, but sometimes he'd become distant, and that always seemed to happen when Sam spoke about his mother who had passed away just two years before.
When Sam's mom was mentioned, Alex would withdraw, but Frannie noticed that he listened closely to every word. Once, the children had shown Alex pictures of 'Granny Leah', and Frannie could have sworn she'd seen tears in Alex's eyes.
"There's something odd about Alex," Frannie told Sam one night.
"I thought you liked him!" said Sam, astonished.
Alex and Sam quickly became friends. | Source: Unsplash
"I do," she said. "But there is something he's hiding. A heartbreak maybe, but he's hiding something..." Sam grumbled and thought that it was just like a woman to find something to pick on about a guy's best mate.
Sam picked up a couple of beers, walked next door, and knocked on Alex's door. He heard the sounds of a piano playing a familiar tune, then the music ended and he heard Alex's footsteps.
"Hey!" Sam said holding out the beers. "I thought you might enjoy a nice cold one on such a hot day!"
Alex grinned and welcomed Sam. "Was that you playing the piano?" Sam asked. "You're pretty good! My mom used to sing me that song."
Alex looked very sad. "Mine too..."
Sam was stunned when he heard Alex play the piano. | Source: Unsplash
"You've never spoken about your mother, Alex," Sam said gently.
Alex shrugged. "I lost her when I was five. My father raised me but he wasn't a very patient man..." he explained. "But never mind that. Tell me, what are you doing tomorrow? If you don't have plans..."
Sam squirmed, embarrassed. "Tomorrow is my mom's birthday. Fran and the kids and I are going to visit her grave," he said. "It's something we do every year -- but maybe I could pop in after?"
When Sam got home, he said to Frannie, "You're right, there is something odd about Alex, but it's not a bad thing or anything like that. I think he's just very alone in the world. I think he's adopted us as his family."
The next day, Sam, Frannie, and the three children went to his mother's grave. They brought with them a lovely arrangement of wildflowers and a dozen helium-filled balloons in bright colors.
Sam and his family placed flowers on his mothe'r grave. | Source: Unsplash
Afterward, the five had lunch at a nearby restaurant that had been his mother's favorite and then they headed for home. Sam said to Frannie, "I'm worried about Alex. Something's not right. I'm going to pop over and see him."
When Sam arrived next door, he heard the sound of the piano again. The patio doors were open so he walked in. Alex was seated at the piano playing and singing, tears running down his cheeks.
There was a photo Sam had never seen on the piano on a silver frame and the face of the woman in it was hauntingly familiar. She looked so much like his mother when she was young, but there was a sparkle of happiness in her eyes Sam had never seen.
Why did Alex have a photo of his mother? Sam wondered. Then Alex started singing along to the familiar tune, but the lyrics were unusual: "If I'm ever lost in the woods, I won't cry, I'll be good, 'Cause I know my mommy will watch over me..."
Sam recognized a photo of his mother when she was young. ! Source: Unsplash
Sam took a step into the room and gasped. "My mother sang that to me, exactly like that...her own lyrics."
Alex stopped playing abruptly and he turned around. "So did mine," he said.
"That's my mother!" Sam said pointing to the portrait in the silver frame.
"Yes," Alex said. "And mine too, brother."
"But how...who...what's going on?" asked Sam.
"When I was five, my father divorced my mother and got full custody of me," Alex smiled bitterly. "He was a very rich and very bitter man. He ALWAYS got what he wanted.
Sam and Alex found each other. | Source: Unsplash
"He wouldn't let my mother see me. For years after I turned 18, I looked for her but I couldn't find her. I discovered where she was because a search engine found her obituary online. I was too late.
"I learned about you, then. I found out your birthdate and did the math. She must have been pregnant when she left but didn't tell my father so she wouldn't lose you too."
"She never told me about my father...or a brother!" said Sam. "But sometimes she'd look so sad...I think she was thinking of you, missing you."
"I moved here hoping I'd get to know you, learn a little bit more about mom," Alex explained. "But I never expected to find the best friend I've ever had."
"Isn't that what brothers are?" asked Sam with tears in his eyes. "I've always wanted a brother... Now I can say I really do have everything!"
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