While at a park, a boy asks his father to help a crying older man. The father agrees and approaches the man, unaware that it will bring his painful past before him.
Colin often took his 6-year-old son Ethan to the park in the evenings. While Ethan played with his friends, Colin sat on a bench watching him. But one day was different.
That day, while Ethan was playing, Colin was buried in his thoughts about his childhood. Unlike Ethan, Colin didn’t have a very happy childhood. He was an orphan and was adopted by a family, but he didn’t stay with them for very long.
His first adoptive parents, Morris and Jane, took him in as a baby and loved him more than anything in the world, but things began to change a year after he was adopted. Morris and Jane’s relationship lost the spark, and they eventually separated.
After that, Jane found herself another man named Robert, who filled the hole Morris left in Colin’s life. Things finally returned to normal after that, but tragedy struck when Jane died of a heart attack. Robert didn’t get legal custody of Colin, and the boy was transferred back to the orphanage.
One day, Robert visited the orphanage and assured Colin he’d take him back. “I won’t leave you here, Colin!” he said. “I promise I’ll come back soon for you.”
But that day never came. In fact, Robert vanished and never came back looking for him. As a child, Colin never understood why Robert lied to him and abandoned him at the orphanage. But he was soon adopted by a new family and managed to lead a normal childhood.
Several years passed, and Colin had a family of his own. However, his past would still bite him, as it did that day in the park. “I will never abandon Ethan. I will never do what Robert did to me!” Colin vowed to himself while still deep in thought.
Suddenly, Ethan came running up to him. “Daddy, daddy! Someone needs help! A man is crying there, daddy!” he cried, interrupting Colin’s thoughts.
“Huh… where?” Colin inquired, taken aback by the abrupt distraction.
“There, Daddy!” Ethan said, pointing to a nearby bench where an older man was crying and wiping his tears. “He asked me to go get him some water. I told him I couldn’t leave the park without first telling you. We should help him, daddy!”
“Well done, Ethan! You go and play. Daddy will help him, okay?”
“This – This has to be a dream,” the older man said, unable to comprehend what he was seeing.
Ethan nodded and returned to his friends while Colin approached the man. “Excuse me, sir,” he said. “Can I help you with something?”
The man looked up, and Colin saw his eyes were swollen and red from all the sobbing.
“Can you fetch me some water, son?” he pleaded, his voice shaking. “I wouldn’t ask you if my knees weren’t bothering me today. I would really appreciate it if you could help me… Here,” He took out some cash and handed it to Colin. “There’s a store nearby…please…”
“Sure, sir, no problem,” Colin replied and walked to a local shop to purchase a bottle of water for him.
When he returned, he noticed Ethan sitting alongside the older man, talking to him. “Daddy! You’re here! … I felt bad that he was alone and crying, so I kept him company while you were gone. I’m going to play now. Bye-bye!” he shouted as he dashed away.
Colin grinned as he watched Ethan play with the other kids, proud of him for being so kind to the man.
“Are you sure you’re okay, sir?” Colin asked as he handed him the water bottle. “If you need anything else, please let me know.”
The gentleman shook his head. “I’m all good, young man, but,” he hesitated. “Do you mind if I talk to you for a minute? I’m feeling a little weighed down today. I assume I would feel a lot better if I could get my thoughts out of my system. I’m not pressuring you, though….”
“It’s fine, sir,” Collin said, smiling as he took a seat next to him. “If talking about it makes you feel better, just bring it on… I’m all ears.”
“Thank you,” the older man replied. “Your son is lovely, by the way. You raised him well … Actually, he reminds me a lot of my past,” he said and he began to tell his story.
The man said he had recently been thinking about his long-lost son. Several years ago, he met a beautiful woman with an adopted son. But soon after she died, the boy was taken to an orphanage.
He wanted to take the child back, but he was diagnosed with a cardiac condition that caused him to be hospitalized for an extended period. Despite everything, he was confident he would come back for his late girlfriend’s child. But unfortunately, when he returned to the orphanage, the child was gone. Another family had adopted him.
“They refused to provide me any information about the family…” The man exhaled a sigh. “It was the greatest tragedy I’d ever encountered, aside from losing the woman I loved. But in the end, I hoped and felt certain that the boy found himself a good family and was happy, so I knew I should let him go…”
Colin couldn’t stop crying as he heard the older man’s story. It brought up too many memories from his childhood, memories so similar to what the old man recounted, it brought him goosebumps.
“Sir,” he finally managed to say. “Do you mind if I ask what – what was the name of your girlfriend and son?”
“Jane and Colin Peterson,” replied the man, and Colin had to swallow hard. “I’m not sure if the boy’s new adopted family changed his name… For me, he’ll always be Colin.”
At that point, Colin couldn’t fight back his tears. “Robert…Is your name, Robert?” he asked and the man’s eyes opened wide in astonishment. Then it dawned on him that the man he was pouring his heart out to was Colin!
“This – This has to be a dream,” he said, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. “Oh, my God! My name is Robert, and…”
Before Robert could finish, Colin wrapped his arms around him. “I’m very sorry, Robert,” he sobbed. “I blamed you my entire life for leaving me. I was so wrong! In a way, it’s good that my adoptive parents didn’t change my name.”
At that moment, Ethan appeared and saw Robert and Colin crying and hugging. He approached them, perplexed. “Dad? Why are you two hugging each other?”
“I found your grandfather, Ethan!” Colin said with a smile. “I lost him a long time ago…”
“But I have two grandpas already! Do I get a third grandpa now?” he naively asked, and Robert and Colin laughed.
“Yes, Ethan! And that’s because you’re very lucky,” Colin responded with a smile. “And I am pretty lucky too…”
From that day on, Colin and Robert often visited each other’s homes. Colin introduced Robert to his parents and wife, who were delighted to meet him. They became a loving, blended family, and Ethan delighted in the fact that he had three grandpas, including his mother’s father.
What can we learn from this story?
What you’ve been looking for your entire life could appear at the most unexpected time. Colin was helping a needy man out of concern. He had no idea it would end up reuniting him with the father figure he’d lost years ago.
Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. Colin blamed Robert all his life without knowing his side of the story. When Robert eventually told him why he left him, Colin felt bad for judging Robert.