At age 24, Edgar became a firefighter. New to the job and with no field experience, he and his crew were called to a fire at an orphanage.
When they arrived, Edgar heard the orphanage director yelling for a boy named Teodoro Hernandez.
«Teodoro! Teodoro! Teodoro is still inside! He’s only five years old!» the woman shouted frantically.
As soon as Edgar heard that, he ran inside immediately.
«Teo? Teodoro Hernandez?» he shouted inside.
The flames were getting bigger and starting to engulf the walls.
«Over here!» he heard a boy call from the second floor.
Edgar ran up the stairs, ignoring the heat, and carried the little boy as he ran down as fast as he could. He saved the child and got him out of the building just in time before the staircase collapsed from the heat.
«Are you okay, are you hurt anywhere?» asked Edgar as he put him on a stretcher next to an ambulance.
«I’m fine, Mr. Firefighter. Thank you for saving my life,» Teo told him, giving Edgar a hug.
This gesture comforted his heart and he made sure to hug the boy back tightly.
«What’s going to happen to us now? Our home flamed away,» Teo asked Edgar in a low voice, as the orphanage staff tended to the other children.
«Unfortunately, the orphanage building is gone and it will take a while to build it. The government will help relocate everyone for the time being,» the fireman explained.
Teo began to cry, clinging to a stuffed animal he had managed to save.
«It’s okay, Teo. You’ll be fine,» Edgar assured him, rubbing his back.
«What about you, Mr. Fireman, do you have a family of your own?» the boy asked.
Edgar shook his head.
» I don’t. I live alone, and I’m actually quite lonely.»
He paused for a moment. Then the fireman decided to do something brave.
Suddenly he said, «What do you think about keeping me company? Would you take me as your daddy?» he asked the little boy.
Teo’s eyes widened.
«Really?» he said, surprised. «Can I call you daddy?» the little boy asked.
«If you want,» smiled the fireman.
Theodore’s face showed a big smile as he gave his stuffed animal a warm hug.
«Mom, I’m going to have a family,» he whispered to the toy.
«Is that stuffed toy your mommy?» asked Edgar.
Teo quickly shook his head and pulled a small photograph out of his stuffed toy’s pocket.
«This is my mom, I don’t know where she went, but this is a picture she gave me,» he explained.
Edgar could feel his stomach twisting. He was more determined to adopt Teo now. He made sure to talk to the orphanage director once everyone had settled in.
After a couple of months, Edgar was finally named Teodoro’s adoptive father in court. Since he had no wife or girlfriend, he raised the boy alone and they were inseparable from then on.
Teo was a very young child when Edgar adopted him, so he forgot that he was not his real father. In fact, it was only at the age of 12 that he discovered that the fireman was his adoptive father. However, he didn’t care.
«You saved my life; you raised me with so much love. You are my dad. I feel it in my heart,» said Teo, giving Edgar a hug.
The firefighter could feel his stomach twist again at hearing that, and he did his best to keep his tears from falling.
Father and son shared a close relationship with each other. They were more like best friends. When Teo turned 21, they frequented bars and partied together.
They also spent vacations traveling, and on normal days, they would sit on the beach not far from his house just talking all afternoon.
Despite treating each other as best friends, Edgar raised Teo very well. He grew up to be a kind, understanding, honest and intelligent man.
The firefighter described him as the «perfect son». In the end, Edgar never found love or remarried. Instead, he concentrated on working hard to give his son a good life.
However, a couple of years later, Teo went on to have a family of his own. He made sure to take care of his elderly father by asking him to move in with them. His wife Valentina was more than happy to have her kind father-in-law living with them as well.
However, those who benefited most from having him at home were his adoring grandchildren. They loved their grandfather dearly and spent every afternoon playing and eating snacks with him.
One day, Edgar asked the whole family to spend a weekend afternoon in his room. Together they watched Disney movies that the children enjoyed.
That same night, Teo went back to his father’s room to look for the dirty glasses he had left there. When he opened his dad’s bedside table, he was surprised to see a photograph of his mother.
He turned it over, thinking it was the picture he’d had with him all his life, until he realized it said «Sorry, Edgar» on the back, instead of «Sorry, Theodore.»
Confused, he faced his father and placed both photos in front of him.
«What does this mean, Dad?» asked Teo.
Edgar quietly asked Theodore to join him at his favorite spot on the beach so he could explain there. Since they still lived nearby, the two walked in silence until they reached the beach and sat on the shore as they always did.
«Your mother’s name is Linda Hernandez. She left your father when you were about three years old because she thought he couldn’t give her the life she had always dreamed of,» Edgar began to explain.
«One day, while serving at the restaurant where she worked, a wealthy man took an interest in her. However, at the time, you were already three years old. The man told her to leave you in an orphanage if she really wanted to be with him. That’s exactly what she did. She also left your father.»
At this point, Teo had so many questions he wanted to ask. He started by asking:
«Well, what happened to my father?».
«When your mother left your father, he was motivated to do better. He wanted you to be in his life, so he trained hard to be good at his job. However, it took him two years before he could stand up and make enough money,» Edgar replied.
After a couple of seconds, Teo asked the question he really wanted to ask.
«How do you know all this?»
«It’s because I’m your father, Teo. I’m your biological father,» Edgar said, immediately grabbing his son’s hand. «I’m so sorry I kept this from you. I was so afraid it would change our relationship that I wanted to keep it a secret forever,» he admitted.
«You should have told me this years ago! Why didn’t you!» he expressed, almost raising his voice toward his father.
Teodoro was surprised, but he wasn’t angry with his father at all. He loved him very much.
«Because I thought you wouldn’t forgive me for not coming to get you from the orphanage sooner. I couldn’t come sooner. I had no money and would not have been able to feed you and give you proper care,» the older man said unable to hold back tears.
«When I found out that the orphanage you were in was on fire, I made sure I was one of the first to respond to the call at the fire station. When the director said you were trapped inside the building, I could feel my knees going weak.»
«I couldn’t forgive myself if something happened to you. I was so relieved that I found you safe and was able to get you out in time,» he added.
Teo hugged his father tightly without saying a word. At that moment, his whole life flashed through his mind. From the moment Edgar rescued him to all their beautiful memories together. Even without knowing that the fireman was his biological father, he already treated him as such.
«I love you so much, Dad. I’ve always told you this: I’ve always felt in my heart that you were my dad. And I was right. You’re not only my adoptive dad; you’re my biological dad, too. Thank you for everything.»
«I could never resent you for your choices or even be mad at you for not telling me. I am truly blessed to have you, and that’s all that matters,» Teo said, also in tears.