After his mother’s passing, a man returns to his hometown to visit her grave and pay his respects. However, he is taken aback by the presence of a tombstone nearby, which bears his own name and a photograph of a child.
Martin had left his hometown to establish a career as an acrobat in Europe and had not returned since. He sent a monthly allowance to his elderly and unemployed mother to support her with expenses. However, after checking their joint account, he realized that the money was left untouched.
Concerned, he contacted an old friend from his hometown and discovered the devastating news that his mother had passed away.
“When did it happen?” Martin asked Alicia, his friend from hometown, sadly. “Those people… they didn’t even let me know.”
“Your father’s family said they couldn’t reach you. It’s been over two months, Martin,” Alicia responded sympathetically. “She missed you; you know that.”
“I need to see her,” Martin told her. “I should have been there for her. This is the last thing I can do for her as a son.”
“She would have loved to see you, Martin,” Alicia replied supportively. “I know it’s hard, but you’re doing the right thing by coming home to say goodbye.”
“Would you come with me?” Martin asked Alicia. “I don’t think I can face this alone… I still can’t believe she’s gone.”
“Of course, I’ll come with you,” Alicia answered without hesitation. “Your mother was like family to me too, and I miss her. We’ll get through this together.”
That weekend, Martin had flown to a small village in Tennessee, to visit the grave of his late mother, Alicia was accompanying him. He had brought a bouquet of white lilies, which had been his mother’s favorite, and he laid them gently against the cold grey stone.
Tears streamed down his face as he whispered to her, “I miss you, Mum. More than you know. I loved you. I always will. I wish I had been a better son and visited you more often. We could have spent time together. Sorry, Mom.”
Alicia stood behind him, watching him pay his respects. “Martin, are you okay?” she asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.
He shook his head and wiped away his tears. “I just miss her so much,” he replied, his voice cracking with emotion.
As he rose to his feet, Alicia noticed a tombstone nearby with Martin’s name on it. “Martin, look there!” she gasped. “That’s you! That has your name!”
He was shocked as he ran his fingers over the name engraved on the tombstone. “In the beloved memory of Martin,” the inscription read, and an old picture of a child was nearby, wrapped in a transparent waterproof package.
Martin picked up the picture and examined it. “How is this possible?” he asked himself. “Who is the child in this picture?”
Alicia suggested, “Did you have a brother you didn’t know of? Honestly, this is weird, and you never know… Maybe you did have a twin! And you shared the same name?”
“I don’t know,” Martin sighed. “I really don’t know anything… Mom never told me anything about having a brother. And I wasn’t close to my father, you know that. But if I do have a brother, I want to find him, and I think I know where to start.”
Martin and Alicia arrived at his mother’s cottage an hour later, eager to search for clues and albums that could explain why his name was on the grave. Martin looked through his mother’s bedside drawers but only found a couple of old albums with no significant information.
Martin and his father had been estranged, and he had not visited his mother frequently. However, when he learned that his parents were separated, he began sending her an allowance to support her.
As Martin searched through the last album and drawer, he grew disappointed as he found nothing valuable. But then he noticed a file peeking out from under his late mother’s mattress.
Although the sheets inside were dirty and stained, Alicia and Martin realized it belonged to a nursing home in the village where Martin’s mother’s cousin had resided.
“Do you think her cousin can provide us with some information?” Alicia questioned. “What if the nursing home has been shut down? There isn’t a contact number listed here,” she added, shuffling through the papers.
“I didn’t know about Mom’s cousin in a nursing home. If she kept the file hidden under her mattress and never mentioned anything to me about it, we must be getting closer to solving this mystery, or whatever it is. Let’s go to this nursing home and investigate,” Martin responded.
So Martin and Alicia drove to the Mayflower Care Home, which looked quite old but was still operational.
Martin went to the receptionist and asked about Betty, claiming to be a relative who wanted to meet her. The receptionist then led him and Alicia to a cheerful room. However, when they met Betty, who was in a wheelchair, she looked sad and miserable.
“Hi, Betty,” Martin said as he approached her. The figure in the wheelchair moved slightly to look at him. “I’m Martin. I’m your nephew.”
“I’m Catherine’s son,” Martin said, hoping to refresh the older woman’s memory. Betty’s face lit up.
“Oh!” She exclaimed, covering her mouth with her hands. Tears then started streaming down her face. “You’re Catherine’s son! I only saw you as a baby! She hasn’t come to visit me in a while. Is she okay?”
“Mom passed away, Betty,” Martin revealed. “It’s been two months, and I’m here to ask you something about her. Did she give birth to twins? I mean, do I have a brother? Do you know anything about my mother’s past?”
“No, you don’t,” Betty replied through tears. “You don’t have a twin brother… But oh dear, Catherine… I couldn’t say goodbye to her.”
“I went to visit Mom,” Martin said. “And I found this near her grave…” He showed Betty a photo of his grave and a childhood picture on his phone. Betty then shared a shocking story with Martin and Alicia.
“I’m sorry Martin, but the man in the picture is not you, but your father,” Betty said with a sympathetic tone. “And he had the same name as you.”
Martin looked at the old photograph in confusion. “What do you mean? That’s me in the picture!”
“No, dear, it’s not,” Betty replied gently. “Your mother had two lovers, or I’d say, one was a lover and the other, an admirer. She had named you after her lover.”
Martin’s mind was spinning. “What are you saying? Who was my father?”
Betty took a deep breath before continuing. “Your birth father was a poor acrobat who died in an accident, leaving your mother alone with a one-year-old baby boy – that boy was you, Martin. The admirer was a rich man who loved your mother, married her after your father’s demise, and promised to raise you as his son.”
Martin couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “So my stepfather isn’t my real father?”
Betty shook her head. “No, he’s not.”
Martin tried to process the information. “But why did my mother never tell me?”
“I don’t know, dear,” Betty replied. “But it gets even stranger. Your stepfather had fertility problems, so he married Catherine for an heir. But things turned out differently when you grew up.”
“What do you mean?”
“As a teen, you suddenly developed an interest in acrobats, and your wealthy father was against your passion. So you severed all ties with him and moved to Europe to pursue your dream,” Betty explained. “But you didn’t know that your stepfather was not your biological dad and that your bio dad had been an acrobat too. Catherine never told you about him, and nobody knows why.”
Martin was in tears and couldn’t believe his mother had gone through so much. “Why would she keep this from me?”
“I think they buried her there because they wanted her to be near the man who was her first love,” Betty said. “Fate is strange, isn’t it? Your mother visited me often and never spoke about her new life with your new father, no matter how much I pressed her. Now I know she’d been as sad, as lonely as me…”
Martin was angered at his stepfather and decided to visit his address, where another terrible surprise awaited him.
Martin was shocked to discover that he had passed away as well. The only person living in the house was a lonely old woman, Martin’s grandmother, Poppy.
Despite the fact that she was the mother of the man Martin had despised all his adulthood years, Poppy was the only family he had left besides Betty.
When they first met, Poppy smiled through tears and said, “You’re a grown-up man! I’m sorry about your mother, Martin. But I hope you know she’s close to someone she loved.”
Martin broke down and cried into her lap like a little boy. “I lost everyone. Now all I have is you and Aunt Betty. I don’t think I have the courage to leave my family alone again! I don’t think I can!”
Eventually, Martin made the decision to move back to America, buy a new house, and move in with Poppy and Betty. Six months later, he married Alicia, who had always been there for him, and they became a family. Martin came to accept that they were all linked by fate to meet a somewhat happy end.