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Single Dad Pays for Elderly Woman's Groceries and Receives a Car as Her Gift – Story of the Day

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By Monica Otayza
Jan 18, 2022
01:25 A.M.

While James was in line to pay for some groceries one night, he was behind an old lady who could not pay for the groceries she brought to the counter so he offered to pay for them. After her death, he was in for a big surprise as the old lady never forgot his act of kindness. 

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"I didn't know the money I brought wasn't enough. Let me just put back some things. I'm sorry, ma'am," an old woman at the counter said, as she started picking through her grocery items to choose what to return. 

Behind the woman was a man named James, who watched painfully as the woman chose to put back a crate of eggs and a carton of milk. "You don't have to put those back on the shelf. Let me pay for them instead," James told the woman, getting his wallet out. 

Although he was struggling with money himself, James couldn't help but do an act of kindness for the old lady. After all, the amount he needed to shell out for the eggs and milk wasn't that much. 

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James decided to help an old woman who couldn't pay for her groceries. | Source: Shutterstock

"Oh sweet man, you don't have to. I can really just put these back," the old lady replied, shaking her head. However, James was keen on helping her, and he handed her the money she needed to pay for the goods. 

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"I insist. I wouldn't offer if I couldn't. Really, ma'am." James smiled. He looked at the old lady's items: eggs, a loaf of bread, milk, and a pack of cheese. It saddened him that senior citizens like the kind lady in front of him struggled to pay for their basic needs. 

"Can I help you carry these somewhere? Just wait a second while I pay for my things," James offered. The old lady smiled.

"I'm going to have to offer you some dinner if I allow you to carry my things out of here," she said. While James wanted to accept, he remembered that the old lady must have been struggling for her to buy such simple necessities. 

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"I won't be able to make it, ma'am. I have to pick up my kids at school, but thank you for the kind offer," he said as he bagged his own stuff. 

James did not want to take anything from the old lady who could not even afford a few groceries. | Source: Pexels

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"Oh, non-sense. Bring your children, there's enough time before dinner. I insist!" she said, writing down her name and address at the back of her receipt before handing it to James. 

James had no choice but to take the paper, and it read "Mrs. Dunhill." Before he could protest, the old lady was already walking out of the store. 

How could I possibly sleep well at night knowing my kids and I ate her food despite her struggling to buy basic necessities? he thought to himself while he was on the way to pick his kids up at school. 

James was a single dad who cared for his children more than anything in the world. When his ex-wife left him for another man, she left with no remorse, taking their car and moving to another town. Now, he had to walk to get to places, if not his trusty old bike. 

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Luckily for him, they lived in a quiet town in Virginia where walking around was the norm. However, a pickup truck was something he needed for his work as a part-time carpenter. 

James is a single father to a young boy and girl. | Photo: Pexels

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While he works a regular 9-to-5 job, he would sometimes take in orders from neighbors to fix things in their houses for some extra money. Since his priority is his children, being able to save up for a new truck is something he had still yet to do. 

His thoughts were interrupted by his children, Patty and Michael, running towards him. "Hey, dad!" they said, greeting him with a hug. 

Once they reached home after a five-minute walk from the school, James had made a decision on whether or not to accept Mrs. Dunhill's offer. He asked his children to finish their homework quickly, as they had somewhere to go. 

"Where are we going, dad?" Patty asked. 

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"Well, I met this nice old lady at the grocery store who offered to cook us some dinner! Isn't that exciting?" he asked. As he was always busy, home-cooked meals are what Patty and Michael don't get to enjoy quite often. 

They all took a bus to Mrs. Dunhill's house, which was just one stop away from theirs. It was an old house, but it looked neat and homey. The old lady beamed when she saw James and his two children on the front porch. 

James made a decision to keep Mrs. Dunhill company alongside his kids. | Photo: Pexels

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She welcomed them in, and she cooked them a delicious roast chicken dinner which everyone delightfully enjoyed. They enjoyed each other's company so much, that they decided to have dinner together every week. 

James couldn't help but offer to pay for all the groceries for these dinners, and Mrs. Dunhill obliged. They could see how Patty and Michael enjoyed themselves over good food, and it was all that mattered to them.

Mrs. Dunhill grew on the children, and they started to call her grandma. James was glad that another adult was in his children's lives, as they only interacted with him and their teachers ever since their mother left town. 

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Unfortunately, one night, they were surprised when it wasn't Mrs. Dunhill who opened the door to the house. It was her daughter, Marissa. 

James and his kids were surprised to see an unfamiliar face open the door. | Photo: Pexels

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"Hi! You must be Marissa. Mrs. Dunhill has told us –" 

The woman cut James off before he could finish his sentence. "God, stop. I don't care about what you have to say. Leave my mom alone and stop wasting her money! Never come back here," she said, crossing her arms and looking at James and his children from head to toe. 

"What do you mean? We're simply keeping her company, and the kids love her already," James said, shielding his kids from the angry woman in front of them. 

"Oh, please. You're just taking advantage of an old woman who doesn't know anything. That's disgusting! Get out of here before I call the cops," she threatened before slamming the door on their faces. 

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That day, the kids went home with tears in their eyes. They were so afraid of Marissa, and they were sad that they wouldn't get to see Mrs. Dunhill ever again. 

James would visit Mrs. Dunhill's house, but Marissa would answer the door. | Photo: Shutterstock

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Several times, James tried to visit Mrs. Dunhill's house on his own, but it would always be Marissa answering the door. He had to stop coming, as she threatened to call the cops and say he was a stalker. 

About a month after his last visit, Patty reminded her father of a couple of books she left at Mrs. Dunhill's house. Michael also left a couple of his toys, and they wanted them back. 

So, James mustered up the courage to knock on the door, which an angry Marissa opened. He begged to get their stuff back for the sake of the kids, and she threw out a bag that her mother had packed. 

"My mother is dead. Are you happy now? There, she left those in a bag. That's all you're going to get from her, so don't even try to come back," she said, throwing a large garbage bag at James before shutting the door behind her. 

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James was sad that Mrs. Dunhill was gone. It was not just his children who grew attached to the old lady. How could I have not noticed she was sick? Was she even sick? he thought to himself as he walked home. However, he realized he would never get the answers to his questions now. 

James was saddened to hear Mrs. Dunhill was gone. | Photo: Unsplash

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When he got home, he opened the garbage bag. He was surprised to see an envelope on top of the books and toys. It contained a letter and some keys. 

"

Dear James,

If you're reading this letter, it must mean I have passed on. I'm so sorry I never got to say goodbye. My daughter came out of nowhere, and when I happily told her about our dinners, she was furious. She warned me that people often take advantage of seniors like me. 

Of course, I didn't believe her. You and the kids have been nothing but kind to me. I was there when she yelled at you and the kids, but I could not stop her. I'm so sorry.

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I'm not a wealthy woman with a large estate, but I wanted to leave you with something. I own a pickup truck, you see. It's not new, but I barely ever drove it. I wanted to give it to you for Christmas, even transferring the papers to your name, but well, I didn't make it. 

You'll find the car in my neighbor's garage. Mrs. Simmons knows you'll be the one picking it up. I hope if you can't use it, you can sell it to buy what you need. 

I hid the car from Marissa because she definitely would not give this to you. I told her I sold the car a while back. Despite everything that happened, please know that you and your family have a special place in my heart. Thank you for keeping me company when nobody else did. Thank you, James. Live a great life with your children, and shower them with all my love. You are a great father, I am so proud of you. 

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Love, Stephanie Dunhill."

Mrs. Dunhill wrote James a letter before she passed away. | Photo: Pexels

James' tears were falling down by the time he reached the end of the letter. His grip tightened on the car keys, and he couldn't help but mourn the loss of the old lady he met by chance at the grocery store. 

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That night, he explained to his children that Mrs. Dunhill had gone to heaven. The kids cried with their dad, and they mourned the loss together. 

The following day, Patty decided to draw a family portrait of the three of them with Mrs. Dunhill, as they never got to take a picture together. James framed the photo, and it's remained on their living room console table since then. 

Patty drew a family portrait that included Mrs. Dunhill which they framed at home. | Photo: Pexels

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The pickup truck from Mrs. Dunhill was perfect for James' carpentry work. In fact, with him being able to do more work, thanks to the car, more people started to take notice of him, and his business became so popular. 

When Patty and Michael turned 16 respectively, they used the pickup truck to learn how to drive with their dad. Memories of their short but sweet time with Mrs. Dunhill remained favorite family dinner topics, and they never forgot the old lady who became their grandmother. 

What can we take from this story?

  • We meet the best people at the most unexpected times. James never thought he'd have a good relationship with someone he met at the grocery store, but Mrs. Dunhill ended up changing his life. 
  • Saying kind words to others can mean so much to them. James was doing his best as a single father, but no one was around to reassure him that he was doing a good job. Mrs. Dunhill reassured him of this in her letter. 
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Did you enjoy this story? You might like this one about an elderly woman who sold her house to help her grandson. 

This account is inspired by our reader’s story and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com. 

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