I had just come home to my place after having dinner with my mother. What I had found out that night was very disquieting.
Let me tell you about my family and what I was told...
My mother's name is Mary ... my father is Joseph. At least he was my father until what I was just told.
He left after dinner, leaving mom and me to talk alone. This had never happened before, but she asked me to sit down.
"What is it?" I asked. "Are you OK?"
"No Jesse, I'm not. There is something I need to tell you before I am gone."
I moved to by her side and took her hand and said, "Take as much time as you need Mom. I'm right here."
She began to cry a little, and I handed her a tissue.
"You have always been so wonderful honey. I've kept this to myself for a very long time. Have patience with me please?"
"I am as patient a man as I know. I turned 30 tonight and had my favorite dinner with my lovely mother and stepfather. You have never told me about my biological father. Is that what this is about?"
"Yes, it is."
"Go ahead Mom," I said.
"You were born in Bethlehem Pennsylvania on April 3rd to Joseph and me. We had been kicked out of our apartment for not paying our rent on time. You were born literally in a homeless shelter, but the story actually begins before that."
"Okay," I said.
"I was only 14, when I had a dream. It was a most amazing dream honey. I was still living with my parents when it happened in Nazareth Pennsylvania. I have relatives there, but that's not important to the story I have to tell. Anyway, after the dream was over I slept for a long time. I thought nothing of it until I had missed a period."
"I need to tell you this story. Are you going to listen or just keep interrupting me?"
"Such a good boy, you are. I took a home pregnancy test and it said I was pregnant. I went to my parents Anne and Joachim and told them. They wanted to know who I had been with and I told them no one. Mother believed me, but father didn't. He wouldn't speak to me and when he did he wouldn't look at me."
"I knew Joseph from school and he came over and I told him I was pregnant and he comforted me. My father walked in on our embrace and threatened to kill Joseph if he didn't admit to knocking up 'his little girl.'"
"Daddy told him to leave and never come back. I was losing the only boy I ever knew that liked me."
"Mom, it's OK to cry. I'm sorry that grandpa treated you like that. What happened next?"
"I packed a bag hiding it under my bed and later that night I heard something at my window. It was Joseph with a ladder he had made. His father was a carpenter and it was very sturdy and he helped me down taking my suitcase. He was old enough to drive and we left together in his Chevy Impala together. We had talked about running off together and that night happened."
My mother stopped talking and must have been thinking about how to proceed. I got her attention and she began again.
"To this day, I don't understand who or what got me pregnant, but it wasn't Joseph. He loved me enough to run away from home with a pregnant girl. We easily fell the rest of the way in love."
"Now the problem was how would we live on the little money I had and his bank account. We went to an atm and he got all of it out before his parents found out and blocked access to it. We lived on that money until it ran out, which prompted us to move into the homeless shelter. Because I was pregnant, we got a bed to sleep in together. Joseph was a complete gentleman, holding my hand through the night."
"Thirty days later, I gave birth to you. There was a medical nurse who helped you come into the world. Her name was Ruth. She was so helpful, letting me hold you right away. Later that same night there was a big noise outside and a limousine had pulled up and three big men in turbans walked in asking, "If a child had been born in this place?"
"Joseph brought them over to me and they prayed over you. They asked what name I was giving you. Joseph and I hadn't thought that far ahead and they suggested the name of Christos or possibly Immanuel. That's why you have two middle names Jesse."
"Who were they Mom?" I asked.
"They said they 'came from the East' so I just left it at that. They gave their names as Melchior from Persia, Caspar from India and Balthazar from Arabia. They all looked very old. They each left something behind."
"There was a bottle of perfume with the name Frankincense on the label. It smelled wonderful. Next was a small bottle of healing oil, they called it Myrrh. They said to drop a few drops on your forehead before we prayed each night."
"What was the final gift?" I asked my mother who was steeped in tears again.
"It's in a safe deposit box. We never opened it. They said it would extend our lives after we left our bodies. That scared Joseph and I. Melchior handed us some coins and said to 'Keep it safe for your Christos.' Joseph did as requested by these 'Wise men' and by the end of that week we had a small bank account with a mysterious box in a vault."
"You've never gone to see what it was?" I asked.
"No ... apparently the coins we were handed were worth a great deal of money, enough for us to move from the shelter back into an apartment. Joseph started a carpenter shop that you helped in after you were old enough to be around electrical tools."
"I remember that. What a blast it was to work with my father. What about who my real father is? Have you ever tried to figure that out exactly?" I questioned.
"I've been praying every night asking that, but there has been no response. I never had another dream like the one I had. I eventually went to the doctor and he was fascinated by the story saying that I still had my hymen intact."
"You were my proof that I had given birth. The doctor was bemused, but treated me anyway. He asked and took a sample of my DNA, even though there was no accurate testing for paternity back then. I never heard back from him."
"So, you still do not know for certain who my biological father is?"
"No ... I'm sorry Jesse."
"Why don't we go to the bank tomorrow together and find out what was in the box for all these years?"
"Joseph thought you would want to do that, so I got the key to go and do it. I don't feel well enough to go with you. Come let me know what you find out afterwards."
"I will do that mother. What about Joseph?"
"What about him dear?"
"He is my stepfather, should I talk to him about any of this?"
"Go and find out what is in the box? You'll figure it out, you are a smart boy."
I went back to my place, put the safe deposit key on my nightstand and fell asleep.
I woke up quite refreshed, fixed myself a healthy breakfast and went to the bank. I signed up and was left alone to peruse the contents.
I helped the young lady put it on the counter. It was heavy. She excused herself and I opened the top of the container there was a locked box inside with a key that looked ancient. I took them both out of the container and moved to another shelf.
I was a little shaky about what I was about to find. I took a deep breath and opened it.
Gold coins ... it was full of gold coins. I took a couple and closed everything up shaking again as I called for a person to help. A young man came in to help and I thanked him. He took the bank key and handed me mine. I subtly put the coins in my coat pocket and asked who to talk to about old coins.
He directed me to a young lady named Martha. I sat down and waited for her to get off the phone.
"Hello," she said. "I understand you have some coins for me to look at?"
"Yes, here," I said touching her hand for a moment. Something felt odd, but I shook it off.
She looked it over unaided then got out a loupe to look at it even closer. "Wow! This is really old maybe a thousand years or more. What do you want to know about it?"
"How much it is worth to start?"
She pulled out a small electronic scale from her drawer and put the coin on it.
"I thought it felt rather light, just under one ounce. At today's rates, that's... $1,088 dollars. How many do you have?"
I wasn't sure if I should give out that much information, so all I said was "A few. Can you find out exactly how old it is for me?"
"I can do that for you ... what was your name?"
"Christos," I answered. Suddenly Jesse seemed a bit silly.
"Give me a day, I can find out for you Christos. That's a very old and beautiful name. I was named after a great grandmother. I didn't like the name Martha as a little girl. I hope I have grown into it."
"It looks like it to me," I said suddenly flirting with her.
"See you tomorrow," she said extending her hand. I took it and just held it for a while. She pulled hers away and said, "Good-bye Christos."
I went home and found an online site to determine the approximate value of my newfound box of coins. I guessed the box and the contents were close to 45 to 50 pounds, so I put in 40 and it calculated I had close to $750,000 in gold coins. Why they never opened the box I am not sure, but I had good news for mom.
I pulled up to the sound of alarms and flashing lights.
They were taking out two bodies, both covered like they do on TV. "I'm her son ... let me through please?"
They showed me her docile face and I just broke down into tears. The other body was Joseph. "What the hell happened here?" I yelled.
"There was an anonymous call to 911 and we arrived and found them both dead holding hands. I'm very sorry for your loss," one of the EMTs explained. "You will be contacted ... take the time to grieve, she would want that."
I went inside the house and looked around. The noise from outside was dissipating as I found an envelope with my name on it.
"If you are reading this, my time on this earth is over. I have gone home. The house is yours if you want it. Sell it if you don't. Don't cry for me. I am back with your real father."
I couldn't keep from crying. She had been my whole life. I never even looked at girls. My mom was my girl. Martha seemed nice, but she would be no Mary.
I stayed in the house that night in my old bedroom. I had a tough time falling asleep, but I did.
Sometime in the middle of the night, I heard a voice calling 'Christos.' I woke up and said, "Father ... is that you?"