Brandon’s mother, Valerie, went on a business trip and never returned. They were told she died in a car crash, but Brandon met her accidentally during a college lecture. Then a detective revealed what happened at the time.
“Ok, Bran. I have to go now, but I’ll be back in a few days,” Valerie told her 10-year-old son, who was clutching her leg and refusing to her let go. She had to attend a Physics conference in Worcester, which was not that far from their hometown in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Valerie Smith was a professor at Harvard University, and she had been chosen as a keynote speaker at this symposium, so she had to attend. But her son didn’t want her mother to go for several days.
“No, Mommy. I want to go with you!” Brandon whined.
“Brandon, let go of your mother,” his father, Preston, ordered with a smile.
“I’m sorry, sweetie. But this is a conference for adults. You can’t come with me,” Valerie said, tugging his hands away from her legs. Her son finally relented and let go.
“I’m going to become a scientist just like you! And we will go together all the time!” Brandon said vehemently. His parents smiled, and Valerie got in her car. She was supposed to return three days later, but that never happened.
Preston received a call from a hospital in Worcester, explaining that his wife had been in a terrible car accident. He needed to go there immediately to get things in order, so he left Brandon with his mother and went.
Unfortunately, it was impossible to identify the body due to the severity of the crash, but they found a purse. Preston saw her things and confirmed it was his wife. He arranged everything and returned home to have the most challenging conversation he had ever had with Brandon.
His son took Valerie’s death hard. But as a teenager, he was determined to become a physicist like he had promised her before she died. He got straight A’s and eventually managed to earn several scholarships to any university in the country.
But he chose Harvard, where his mother had taught. Everyone in the family was proud that Brandon was following Valerie’s footsteps, and they supported him through every step.
However, he didn’t just want to be a physicist. He wanted to be the best. So Brandon took extra lessons, attended specialized lectures, and searched everywhere for the best teachers. Through online forums, he saw great reviews of a course at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
“It’s more than two hours away, Brandon. I don’t see how that college will have anything better to offer than Harvard,” his father said when Brandon told him he was planning on renting an Airbnb and checking it out.
“I need to see it for myself. The reviews are good, and they talk about a great teacher over there. Did I tell you that her last name is also ‘Smith?’” Brandon added. A few days later, he drove to Worcester and signed up for the class.
But his jaw went slack when he saw the professor walking in. She looked exactly like his mother, only a little older. This is impossible! Brandon thought while listening to her lecture. Then he grabbed his phone and looked her up.
He sent a screenshot to his dad, who replied that it had to be the same woman. Preston tried calling him, but Brandon wanted to talk to the woman first. So when the class ended, he approached her.
“Excuse me, professor. May I talk to you for a second?” he asked her shyly.
“Sure! Is it about the lecture?” Professor Smith replied.
“No, hmm. Did you use to live in Cambridge and have a son named Brandon?” he asked.
“Oh, why are you asking me that?” she wondered, frowning.
“Professor, I don’t mean to be rude. It’s just that you look just like my mother who died around ten years ago. You have the same last name as me. I just need to know,” Brandon shared.
“Oh my god,” the Professor mumbled. “I…don’t know what to say. But around ten years ago, I woke up on a ditch off the side of the road with a few injuries and no idea who I was. A kind older couple helped me out, but I never recovered my memory.”
“You’re alive,” Brandon managed to say, shock still running through his veins. After 10 years, he couldn’t believe he was standing in front of his mother. Tears were welling in his eyes.
“The only thing I remembered was being known as Professor Smith. I tried going to the police, but they couldn’t help without any identification. I wished we had social media back then,” Professor Smith explained.
“What happened next?” Brandon asked, wanting to know more about how time robbed him of years with his mother.
“I also remembered being good at physics, and the older couple I mentioned before were teachers at this university. They helped me get a job here. I chose the name Valentina but kept the last name I remembered,” she explained.
“My dad has to come here. We need to find out what happened,” Brandon concluded.
A few hours later, Preston arrived in Worcester, and like Brandon, couldn’t help but tear up when he say his wife he thought was dead staring back at him. It was the happiest day of his life.
The three of them went to the police to start an investigation. They DNA-tested Brandon and confirmed that it matched Valerie’s. The police department investigated the matter while the entire family tried their best to put their lives back together.
Valerie was not ready to return to her role as mother and wife, having lost her memory of that part of her past, but they took things slowly. Several months later, a detective visited them.
“It was hard piecing things together, and there are still a few blanks I’m trying to work through, but this is most likely what happened,” Detective Hanson began. Brandon and his parents listened intently.
“Mrs. Smith, as you told me, you drove to a conference here ten years ago. But you were with a colleague named Jane Wilson. She was driving when you got hit by a drunk man in a huge pick-up truck. You were thrown to the ditch off the road,” Detective Hanson continued.
“The rescue team didn’t see her?” Preston asked.
“No, which would explain why Mrs. Smith woke up on that ditch,” the detective answered.
“But wouldn’t they have known there were two people in the car?” Brandon questioned.
“No. According to the reports, there was only one purse in the car, which belonged to Mrs. Smith. I suspect that Ms. Wilson had left hers at the hotel accidentally. But since your mother was thrown off, they thought the bag belonged to Ms. Wilson,” the detective explained.
“And that poor woman’s body was beyond recognition, so they assumed she was the owner of the purse,” Preston continued.
“Exactly,” the detective confirmed. “Additionally, Mrs. Smith got treated at another hospital days after Ms. Wilson who they thought was Mrs. Smith had been confirmed dead. They couldn’t have put two and two together.”
“This is horrible,” Valerie sobbed.
“Mom…I mean, Professor, I mean… I don’t know what to call you right now. But we’ll get through this now that we’re together,” Brandon comforted her.
“No one ever reported her missing. I suspect she didn’t have family, or if someone reported her, they never found leads,” Detective Hanson replied and left.
In the weeks that passed, the Smiths worked hard to recover what they had as a family. Valerie accepted her real name and became a mother to Brandon. It took a while, but eventually, she fell back in love with Preston. They renewed their vows two years later.
Valerie was also reinstated as a professor at Harvard, and Brandon graduated with honors.
What can we learn from this story?
Never go out undocumented. Unfortunately, they misidentified Jane Wilson because she didn’t have her purse with her, and it was a tragedy for several people.
Be careful while driving. Wear your seatbelts and be careful out there. It’s impossible to prevent all accidents, but caution can save lives.