The old woman walked up to yet another stranger, the photo she held was clutched tightly between her fingers. The picture was filled with creases from age and her constant fingering.

“Pardon me, sir,” she said, coming up to a young man.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Have you seen my son?” She handed him the photograph of a young boy, no older than four. 

“I’m afraid I haven’t. Where was the last place you saw him?” He looked around the station hoping to catch a glimpse of a small child.

Her eyes held a strong mourning. “Right in this very building. I lost him and have been looking every day since.”

The man furrowed his brow. “How long have you been looking for your son?”

“It has been 24 years 8 months and 169 days since I lost my son and I have been here every day looking for him.”

The man looked at her earnestly. “Ma’am, if your son has been gone that long then he will look nothing like this photograph. He must be a grown man by now.”

“I will not give up. My baby was everything to me, and if he still is out there then he is all I have left. I believe that I will find him. If not today then someday.”

The man gazed at the old woman, she had a firm and desperate look in her eyes, the look that would give someone real hope. 

“Ma’am, is there anything I can do to help you?”

“No, there is nothing you can do to help me, but there is something you can do to help yourself. Do you have a family?”

“Yes ma’am, a wife and three children; a boy and two girls.”

“Then do this for me: treasure the moments you have with your family. Tell your wife you love her every day, even if it isn’t easy. Teach your son to be a gentleman, and to play ball, spend time with him and make sure he knows he is loved. Tell your little girls stories, kiss them and hug them as you tuck them in at night. Dance with them in the kitchen and whisper to them that they are beautiful each day. Sir, please treasure your family like this is the last day you will ever spend with them, because one day it will be.”

The woman walked away and left the young man alone with his thoughts. A single tear slipped down his cheek. 

That night when he returned home, he kissed his wife and told her that he would always love her. He played catch with his son and shared stories from his own childhood. He danced with his daughters and twirled them around in the air. He remembered the old woman’s words for the rest of his life and never forgot to do what she had asked. For he knew his life was a gift and that he should never treat it otherwise.

 


Submitted: April 17, 2020

© Copyright 2023 N.G. King. All rights reserved.

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The Fool

This is a wonderful story

Sat, April 18th, 2020 2:41pm

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