A young man believes that his mother died in a car accident in which he was nearly killed and is shocked when a homeless woman tells him she’s alive.
Kevin Jordan’s mother died when he was six years old in a horrific car accident that left him in a coma for three months. At least, that was what Kevin’s dad had told him.
But the truth was far darker and much more unpleasant. Kevin’s mother, Moira, had been struggling with a drinking problem for years — a problem she refused to acknowledge until she drove her car into a wall and nearly killed her son.
Kevin’s dad, Kurt, was devastated. He knelt by his unconscious little boy’s bed and wept. “It’s my fault,” he whispered. “I let this happen!” That day, Kurt decided that Moira would never hurt Kevin again.
So when Kevin woke up after three months, confused and groggy, asking for his mom, Kurt took his hand and told the biggest lie of his life. “You must be very brave, Kevin. Mommy’s gone to heaven to be with the angels…”
Mothers and fathers will do anything to protect their children.
Kevin cried, and Kurt wondered if he was doing the right thing. If he let Moira back into Kevin’s life she would surely hurt and disappoint him time after time — just as she had hurt and disappointed Kurt.
Kevin would mourn his mom, Kurt thought, but he would always remember her as the pretty, funny vivacious woman Moira had once been. He would never know the out-of-control degraded drunk she became.
And so Kevin grew up with the myth that his mom had been a happy, tranquil woman, and Kurt often told him ‘mommy stories’ at bedtime. The stories weren’t lies — they were about Moira before she changed, and drinking became the most important thing in her life.
Kurt was a good father, and Kevin grew into a good man. He went to college and graduated with honors. Sadly, he died in an accident shortly after Kevin graduated and he was devastated.
Kevin was offered a job with a prestigious firm in San Francisco, and he felt that maybe a change would help him turn his life around. What he didn’t know was that in the City by the Bay he would discover the truth about his life — and that it would break his heart.
It all started because Kevin liked to take long walks. On his walks, he would often cross paths with a homeless woman who would trudge up and down the steep street in which Kevin lived with a shopping cart.
The cart was often full, and Kevin wondered at her wiry strength. One day he greeted her. “Hey there,” he said. “Good morning!” To his surprise, the woman stopped and stared at him, her mouth dropping open.
Kevin?” she asked. “Is that your name?”
Kevin was stunned. “Yes!” he said. “How do you know?”
The woman smiled, showing shiny pink gums and three straggling teeth. “Your mom has your picture up on her wall! She’s so proud of you!”
“My mom…” Kevin felt the world sway around him and wondered if it was one of San Francisco’s fabled earthquakes. “My mother is dead, lady. She’s been dead for 20 years.”
“Your mom is searching for you!” said the homeless woman angrily. “You’re an ungrateful boy, and Moira’s such a nice woman!” She started to push her shopping cart up the street again but Kevin ran after her.
“Moira?” he gasped. “This woman’s name is MOIRA?”
“Yes!” said the homeless woman crossly. “She runs the Bay Street Shelter! And I can tell you she’s a good friend to the likes of me!”
Kevin couldn’t believe it. He drove to the Bay Street Shelter immediately. He parked across the street, gathered his courage, and walked in. The shelter was full of people lining up for breakfast, and ladling out porridge was a woman with fading red hair and a radiant smile.
Even though the mom he remembered had been willow-thin and glamorous, Kevin recognized Moira immediately, despite the lines that hard life and suffering had cut into her once smooth face.
“Mom!” he cried, and at the sound of his voice, Moira looked up. The ladle dropped from her hands with a clatter and she raised her hands to her lips.
“Kevin?” she asked in a trembling voice, “Is that you?”
“I thought you were dead!” he whispered. “Dad said…”
Moira crossed the room and put her arms around her son for the first time in twenty years. “Oh Kevin,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry. Your dad believed it was best you thought I was dead and I agreed with him.”
“How could you think I’d be better believing you were dead?” Kevin shouted angrily. “I CRIED FOR YOU!”
“Kevin,” Moira said softly. “I was drunk that day, I was driving drunk and you were badly hurt. The woman in the car behind us nearly died. I went to jail.
“Kurt and I… You must understand it took losing my family to make me realize I had a problem,” Moira explained. “And it took years for me to win my battle for sobriety. Kurt was right. But you must believe that I never stopped loving you, thinking about you.”
Moira took Kevin back into her tiny office where an entire wall was covered with pictures of Kevin at different times of his life.
“Kurt sent me photos every month and told me how you were doing. And I promised I wouldn’t come to you until you were older, more settled. But two years ago the photos and the letters stopped coming, and I lost track of you.”
Moira bowed her head and cried. “I loved him so much, and I let him down so badly…”
“He loved you too, mom!” Kevin said. “Every night at bedtime he’d tell me stories about you, wonderful funny stories. I think today he must be smiling in heaven because neither of us is alone anymore.”
What can we learn from this story?
Addictions take over people’s lives and make them strangers to themselves and their loved ones. Only when Moira admitted that she had a problem could she start fighting her addiction.
Mothers and fathers will do anything to protect their children, even from themselves. Moira agreed to Kurt’s terms to protect Kevin from having to witness the degradation of her addiction.