A wealthy man is about to devour his donut during his lunch break when a squeaky voice behind him asks, “Would you give me your donut?” The man turns and sees a little boy and is shocked to realize how similar he looks to him.
Peter left his office during the lunch break and went straight to the coffee shop across the street. Once there, he ordered his favorite glazed donut and coffee. He sat down at a table in front of the bar, enjoying his own company.
That was Peter. He loved admiring the tide of humanity that swept through the streets while eating his lunch alone. His co-workers wondered why he was doing this. After all, it’s not every day you see a wealthy businessman eating a $1 donut for lunch in a cheap coffee shop.
But Peter didn’t care. He was a down to earth man who didn’t care much about the gossip behind his back.
That day, Peter was about to bite into the donut when a squeaky voice behind him asked, “Would you give me your donut?” Peter wasn’t prepared for what he saw next.
When Peter heard the voice, he immediately turned around and saw behind him a child of about six years old, in tears.
“I’m very hungry. Can I have that, please?” he asked, staring at the donut with hungry eyes. It took Peter a moment before he could answer. The lively boy was his spitting image.
“Sure, mate,” he finally replied as he handed the donut to the kid, still amazed at their shared resemblance.
“Thanks! Thank you very much!”, the boy thanked and sat down next to Peter on a chair. He started eating the donut.
Peter couldn’t take his eyes off him. It felt like he was watching a younger version of himself devour a donut. What surprised him more was the birthmark on the boy’s arm, which was identical to his own. That really worried Peter.
“Hey, hey, slow down. I can get you more if you want,” said Peter. “Where are your parents, mate? And what’s your name?”
“I’m Joe,” the boy replied. “My dad died and I live with mommy in a place where a lot of poor people live.”
“A homeless shelter?” asked Peter. “How did you get here? It’s not safe for children to walk around alone.”
“I was very hungry and Mom didn’t have any money, so I thought I could ask someone for help. I know the way back,” he said. “Thanks for your help. Can you buy another donut for my mommy? She’s hungry too.”
Children should not pay for their parents’ sins.
“That could be a possibility,” thought Peter. “Maybe finding his mother can help me get some answers. But I can’t understand how this kid…why does he look so much like me?”
Peter was desperate to find the reason for their uncanny resemblance, so he decided to buy the boy some food and accompany him to his mother’s. “I hope it works anyway,” he thought.
“Just wait here. I’ll be right back, Joe, okay?” he said and the boy nodded.
Peter bought some sandwiches and donuts for Joe and his mom and then drove the boy to the homeless shelter. Joe sat in the back seat of Peter’s car and Peter couldn’t stop looking at him through the rearview mirror the entire drive. Who was this little boy?
“Mom! I’m back and I got you food!” Joe yelled as he ran out of the car, bag of food in hand. The homeless shelter was near Peter’s office, only a 15-minute drive away.
“Hey, careful, Joe!” Peter called, quickly getting out of the car and following the boy inside. But Peter wasn’t prepared for what he saw. It shook him, to say the least.
Joe’s mother was the reason Peter was never happy as a teenager. She was the reason his mother cried most nights instead of sleeping. She was the reason why Peter’s father left her to fend for himself a few years ago. Peter’s father was in love with Joe’s mother and had left his family for her.
Peter’s mother had to work three jobs and raised him alone. Peter had never enjoyed his teenage years because he was being forced to be the man of the house. Occasionally he had worked himself to help his mother while he was finishing his education.
Years later he made a name for himself and her condition improved. Peter never expected to cross paths with his past in this way.
“So Joe’s your son. No wonder the birthmark…” he said, approaching Joe’s mother.
“Oh, it’s you!” she said, embarrassed and startled when she recognized him. “Did you get all that for us?”
He nodded. “What are you doing here? How…” he hesitated. “How did you end up here with Joe?”
Suddenly, tears welled up in the woman’s eyes. “Joe, honey, can you please wait inside? Mom will be right back.”
“Okay Mommy! And thanks for helping us,” Joe had said before disappearing with the meal.
“I’m so sorry for what I did, Peter,” the woman said. Her name was Rachel. “Your father died years ago shortly after Joe was born. He was diagnosed with cancer. We spent almost everything on his treatment but he never recovered. That explains why we are here today.”
“Why didn’t you contact us?” he asked. “Honestly, I don’t care about you or my dad, but I do care about Joe. For God’s sake, he’s a kid! He doesn’t deserve to pay for your sins! Don’t forget that Joe is a part of my dad is! He’s my family.”
“Peter…” she whispered, “thank you. Thanks for taking care of Joe…”
“Take Joe and come with me if you want to thank me. You’re not staying here any longer!”
“But what about your mother? She – she’s going to hate me! I ruined her marriage!”
“Well yes you did but she doesn’t hate you Rachel” said Peter. “That sets my mother apart. She will welcome Joe like her own child. I know my mother. She has a big heart.”
Deep down, Peter hated Rachel. He despised her. But he chose to forgive her because Joe’s crying face reminded him of his younger self.
In Joe, Peter saw his helpless younger self, needing someone’s shoulder to cry on when times were tough, but pretending to be strong. Joe was his brother and Peter couldn’t let him down after learning he was in trouble.
He brought her home. His mother Mary was hurt, but after seeing little Joe, she quickly held back her tears and forced a smile on her face.
“Hello,” Joe said to Mary. “Peter told me you’re family. It’s so nice to meet you.”
“Hey, little boy,” Mary said, hugging him, “would you like cookies and milk? I like to bake cookies, but now that Peter is grown I don’t do it anymore. He used to enjoy cookies too. Would you like some? “”Hey, kleiner Junge”, sagte Mary und umarmte ihn, “möchtest du Kekse und Milch? Ich backe gerne Kekse, aber jetzt, wo Peter erwachsen ist, mache ich das nicht mehr. Früher hat er auch Kekse genossen. Möchtest du welche?”
Joe nodded with a smile. “I love cookies. It’s funny how Peter and I look alike and we both love cookies.”Joe nickte mit einem Lächeln. “Ich liebe Kekse. Es ist lustig, wie Peter und ich uns ähnlich sehen, und wir beide lieben Kekse.”
That remark brought tears to Mary’s eyes, but she laughed at it. “Oh, well, you’re no different than my son. Let’s eat cookies together, and Rachel, you can rest in the guest room.
It wasn’t easy for Mary or Peter to forgive Rachel for what she had done, but should she be held responsible for everything? No, she wasn’t. Because Peter’s father was just as responsible. And more importantly, Joe was the least guilty of past events.
Mary and Peter decided to move on and embrace a fresh start rather than deal with the past.
What can we learn from this story?
It’s not easy to forgive, but a strong heart can and should do it . For Joe’s sake, Peter and Mary decided to leave the past behind and embrace a new beginning. It was difficult for them to forgive Rachel, but they did it anyway.
Children should not pay for their parents’ sins. Joe was not responsible for what Peter’s father and Rachel did. That’s why Peter hugged Joe.
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