To raise her precious newborn girl, Sandra worked hard as a housemaid for a rich employer who seemed cold and rude. That was until she found an old photo in the man’s attic: Who was this man, really, and why did he have her picture?
There were tiny little pockets of time in Sandra’s day when she wasn’t busy cleaning her boss’ palatial house. In these tiny little pockets of time, she forgot the pain in her young body, the heartbreak of being abandoned by her boyfriend, the sorrow of being an orphan all these years…
All of that ceased to exist, and she only saw the serene image of two pink hands and feet and a face so delicate and divine it broke her heart. “Amelia!” Sandra’s lips would quiver, uttering the name of her baby girl, who was just 4 months old.
Sandra’s world had turned on its head since the day she learned she was pregnant. Her boyfriend of three years walked out on her, saying he wasn’t cut out to be a father.
Sandra had never met anyone in this world who was father material. Or mother material, for that matter. For as long as she could remember, she felt tossed around from one foster home to another, never making any real friends or feeling at home.
There were years when she was angry at the world, unwilling to be a kind, vulnerable human to anyone in her path. But that anger got older and paler, and when Amelia came along, it completely melted away.
“Promise me you’ll watch over her. Promise me, so I can go…”
“I can always be the mother and father I never had… that will be my closure,” she thought as she worked the vacuum cleaner on the expensive rug that covered the marble floor in her employer’s home.
It was only her third day at work, and it already looked like she was getting on Mr. Russell’s nerves.
“What do you think you’re doing, miss?” His feeble but angry voice jolted her back to the present moment.
“You’re using the wrong vacuum cleaner on the wrong rug… AGAIN!”
Sandra turned red with embarrassment and shame and ran up to the store room in the attic to correct her error.
Mr. Russell’s angry words continued to chase after her. “If you’re going to be distracted the whole time, I suggest you look for another job! I’d like to see who else would hire someone as sloppy as you!”
Sandra couldn’t shut out the man’s voice or stop her eyes from tearing up. The fact that she couldn’t find the right cleaning instrument up there wasn’t helping either. She rummaged through the large storage closet and bit her tongue as a pile of mops and buckets toppled onto the floor, making a loud noise.
“What’s that noise?” Mr. Russell yelled impatiently and started climbing the stairs to the attic.
Sandra was nervously putting things back in place when she noticed something that fell off the shelves.
It was an old family photo album, and it landed open on a picture that brought goosebumps all over Sandra’s skin.
In a daze, she picked up the album and took a closer look at the photo, her eyes widening and tearing up every second.
“Is that… me?” Sandra wondered out loud and fainted into the chair behind her.
When she finally got a hold of herself again, she saw Mr. Russell, who had been standing in a corner of the room the whole time.
Only this time, his voice had softened, and there were tears in his eyes.
“Cassandra? Is that really you? You… do look just like… your father!” the older man wiped his face.
Mr. Russell looked at the young woman in a new light and could clearly see traces of his best friend Matthew, his big-hearted fellow soldier who had died tragically in a fire several years ago.
“M-My father? You knew him?”
Mr. Russell collapsed into the chair behind him and covered his mouth, his eyes reliving the horror, the pain, and the promise of the past…
It turns out that Matthew and Mr. Russell, or Matt and Ray, as they lovingly called each other, had been the thickest of friends during their years in the army. Ray was an orphan and had no family waiting for him to return, while Matt was a lucky man, married to a beautiful woman who wrote to him every day.
“Ray, she wrote to me again today… and look! She finally sent me a picture of my baby girl! I named her ‘Cassandra.’ Beautiful, isn’t she?”
Ray had looked at the picture and felt his partner’s joy in his own heart. Without saying a word, Ray blessed that bright-looking little child in the picture a hundred times.
But fate had its own plans. The very next day, Matthew was caught in a fire at the warehouse that he was assigned to surveil.
Fighting to speak in his final moments of pain, his weak hand placed the same photo of his daughter into Ray’s hands.
“My wife… tell her I love her. Tell her I’m going to love her from up there, too. And remember, Ray? You said you didn’t have anyone to go home to… well, now you do. My daughter… promise me you’ll watch over her. Promise me, so I can go…”
That last sob of his dying friend still echoed in Mr. Russell’s ears.
“I’m so sorry, Cassandra. I wrote to your mother. I looked for her… and for you. But when I returned from service a year later, both of you were gone without a trace… All I could find out was that your mother had driven you to a different city wanting to start a new life for your sake.”
Sandra burst into tears as she recollected pieces of the rest of the story. She was only three years old back then, and she remembered her mother driving her somewhere.
The skies were golden, her mother was singing and hiding her tears all along, and just as they reached a city-like place with buildings and lights again, a blinding flash of light dashed towards them, and Sandra heard her mother’s voice calling her name for the very last time.
“Cassandra…” she had said, and years later, Mr. Russell’s voice carried the same heaviness as he called that name.
It was a miracle that after all these years, life allowed Ray to fulfill his promise. And to Sandra (or Cassandra, as she insisted on being called ever since), it was a blessing to feel the presence of a father figure in her life.
For the rest of his years, Ray did his best to make up for lost time with his best friend’s daughter. He took Cassandra and her baby daughter in and provided them with every luxury he could afford. When it was Ray’s time to go, he left all that he had earned on earth to Cassandra and Amelia, the family that was gifted to him by an incredible friend.
What can we learn from this story?
Sometimes, you do get a second chance at family. Cassandra lived like an orphan all her youth, and Ray lived alone in his mansion – until life finally brought them together in a meaningful way that changed both their lives.
Have faith – life will bring you what you are looking for. Ray had given up hope when he couldn’t find his late friend’s daughter or wife. But years later, life surprised him in the most unexpected way.
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