Son runs away from home at 16 and returns at 29 to find only a note in a deserted house.

Joey, a 16-year-old who left his mother behind when she was widowed, walks away from home to follow his goals. When he goes home to see her again after thirteen years, he finds the house empty with just a partially burned note.

At 16, Joey decided to move out of his parent’s house because he was ambitious and had goals bigger than his small-town existence. Next to his mother Flora’s old sewing machine, he put a farewell message.

“Hello Mom, You’ll be back by nightfall, but I won’t be. In his letter, Joey said, “No, I wasn’t kidnapped; I just finally decided to run away.”

“I love you and I always will, no matter how far I go. I apologize. Be careful. Joey, with love.

Joey knew he would miss the sight of the tall trees encircling the farm and the loud squawking of the hens and chickens.

He had his filled bag fastened to his back.

Joey turned around and went away without turning around again after taking one final look at the home he shared with his mother following the loss of his father.

Flora spent her day waiting for the son who had promised to help however had never shown up on the farm, unaware of Joey’s plans.

Joey felt limited by the life his mother had set for him on the farm, even though he loved her. He thought that if he stayed, his dream of becoming a doctor would remain unfulfilled.

Flora was resistant to his attempts to persuade her to sell the farm and go to the city because of her ties to the area and her recollections of his late father. Joey had no choice but to go, even if it meant leaving his mother and their way of life behind since he was unwilling to give up on his ambitions.

His thoughts turned to his mother’s dinner arrangements and her voice as he got closer to the highway, prepared to hitchhike to the city.

Joey set off to visit the city. He thought about his choice and how much he was risking while riding the bus. He had been promised a job by his friend Dan, which would kickstart his new life in the city.

Once downtown, Joey quickly made a payphone call to his friend. Dan told him to take a taxi to his house, but Joey was surprised to see that the short ride would cost $30. After an almost broken and frustrating journey, he was relieved to get a warm welcome at Dan’s place.

But following that costly and exhausting day, his optimism had faded. Joey said, “I came here with big dreams, but now I’m not sure.” His shoulders were sinking.

Dan comforted him, saying he wouldn’t charge him for rent until Joey was comfortable in his new position at a grocery store. “You’ll be alright,” he reassured him. “You’ll soon make enough money to pay your bills.”

Joey felt better after hearing his friend’s remarks. “When can I begin?” he inquired.

Dan reassured him, saying, “Don’t worry, it’s a great opportunity, and you’ll make good money.”

Sadly, Joey soon found that the responsibilities of his new life were greater than anything from his old existence. His overwhelming desire to call his mother Flora eclipsed the joy he had from getting his first salary.

He wanted to tell everyone about his success, but he was afraid he might be convinced to go back home.

Joey persuaded himself, “I’ll get more money, then I’ll call her,” seeing the cash as a step toward realizing his goal of going to medical school.

His hope was dashed, though, when Dan abruptly demanded a thousand dollars—nearly all of Joey’s earnings—and pointed out that he still had rent and food bills to pay on payday.

Joey’s aspirations of attending college looked further away than ever as he was faced with the hard winter and the fact that his income barely met his living needs.

He worried, “What am I going to do now?”

Joey was ready to enjoy lunch outside on a typical day when an elderly man slipped and fell on an icy area of the road. He hurried to assist, straightening the elderly guy, and then brought him a bottle of water.

The elderly man sat down with Joey and introduced himself as Mr. Clark.

Mr. Clark added, “You’re an amazing young man,” as he took a card out of his pocket. Give me a call, Joey. Young dude, I’d love to learn more about you!

Joey, not sure what to make of the experience, smiled politely and pocketed the card. But later, when he thought about the old guy, he made the decision to see him.

“Joey! My son! The old man said, “I knew you’d call me,” with a smile. Feeling relieved, Joey just asked Mr. Clark how he was. The old man replied, then abruptly changed the subject to the true reason he’d given him his business card.

Mr. Clark managed a scholarship fund for young people with aspirations similar to Joey’s. “A scholarship?,” he finally said.

“Yes, Joey,” Mr. Clark went on, “a full scholarship with allowances for travel and lodging.” All you have to do is concentrate on your coursework.

It seemed almost too wonderful to be true—he could finally realize his ambition without having to worry about money. However, Mr. Clark was gracious and earnest. And the strong need to give his mother a call returned. Joey wanted to tell her more, but she hesitated. That is how thirteen years went by.

Joey celebrated his graduation as a doctor with the guy who made it all possible, raising a glass to his accomplishment. “You’ve succeeded, Joey, young man! Mr. Clark pondered, “I’m proud of you, and I know your mother would be too.

“Very soon, soon!” Joey gave his assurance, but the idea of seeing his mother again after a protracted absence made his heart sink.

After purchasing a modest home for Flora, Joey decided to go home at last and eagerly drove back.

When he saw the state of the house, he was stunned. It appeared as though nothing had happened for several years because everything was empty and deserted.

The dust on the windows was a couple of inches deep, and the grass surrounding it was overgrown. Joey could feel his nervousness rising as he got out of his car and made his way to the front door.

He knocked without getting an answer, then cried, “Mom! Mom!” as his voice reverberated throughout the home and he pushed right through the door.

Joey looked throughout the house, finding no sign of his mother, and felt his concerns multiply because the inside of the house was just as deserted as the exterior. He called his mother’s number right away, but no one answered no matter how many times he tried.

Joey felt remorse at that point, knowing how foolish he had been not to call her after all these years.

“Is she really—” Unable to speak aloud the ideas that were swirling around in his mind, he had no idea what he would do if they came to pass. He persisted in his quest, going through every crevice and corner of the house.

As he was about to give up, he looked over at the fireplace and was startled to discover a partially burned letter sticking out from under the dust and ashes. Without hesitation, he bowed down to get it, not realizing that his name was inscribed just on top of it.

He read with tears in his eyes:

“Joey, my love, I do miss you. Where did you go after leaving me?

“I wish you hadn’t abandoned me. I would have consented to travel with you instead if I had known that you were going to abandon me and vanish in this manner.

Please, Joey, return. I do miss you. Nothing will ever be able to take your place.

I’m dying here, in this solitude. Without you, the house feels so empty and my heart is heavier and more tormented. I hope that

The remainder was reduced to ash.

Joey wiped aside his tears, determined to find his mother, and made an effort to get assistance. As he went outdoors, he ran across their longtime neighbor.

“Mr. Collins. Joey said, panting, “I just got back, and I’m looking for my mother.”

“Are you the boy who ran away thirteen years ago, Flora’s son?” With squinted eyes, Mr. Collins questioned.

Indeed. My mommy is where? She’s not at home. Has she shared any information with you? His voice trembling, he questioned.

It was disclosed by Mr. Collins that Joey’s mother had been admitted to the hospital. After thanking him, he hurried away. Fearing the worst, Joey muttered in the taxi, “Please…please be alright, Mom.”

“MOM!” he cried as he discovered Flora’s chamber and walked over to her side.

Flora opened her eyes and gave Joey a tight hug as soon as she recognized him. “JOEY…my boy!” she exclaimed, happiness pouring down her cheeks.

He sobbed once more, unable to let go. “I apologize so much for not getting back to you or seeing you sooner. “I didn’t want to let you down,” he broke down in confession.

Flora dismissed Joey’s expressions of regret. Joey, tell me more. I’d like to hear you speak. Your voice, oh! She messed with his hair and said, “How I missed hearing that voice…and laughter.”

Joey described how Mr. Clark’s scholarship allowed him to tell his journey—from the hardships of living in the city to becoming a doctor. He informed Flora of his intentions to reconstruct the farm and demanded that she live with him in the city while the farmhouse was being renovated.

Flora nodded without thinking. Neither wanted to be apart again, even for a brief moment, after many years of being away.

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