An arrogant man finally visits the home his grandmother left him 32 years before for the first time and is stunned to see everything sparkling clean and in perfect order.
Dylan Salvia was furious! At the last board meeting, he'd learned about his boss's decision to go public along with the rest of top management. Dylan, one of the company's oldest employees, felt slighted!
He knew he was one of Ryan Gothard's most valuable employees if not THE most valuable employee. He'd climbed to the top, but he felt he could and should go higher -- he wanted to be Chief Operations Officer, and he wanted Ryan to know it.
Dylan was stunned when he walked into the house for the first time. | Source: Shutterstock.com
Dylan stormed into Ryan's office without even knocking. "How could you do that to me?" he cried angrily. "After everything I did for you!"
Ryan turned around, looking surprised. "What are you talking about, Dylan?" he asked bewildered.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about!" Dylan stormed. "You didn't even consult me about the IPO!"
Family should never take a backseat to making money and building a career.
Ryan was stunned. "CONSULT you? Are you quite mad?" Ryan asked. "I consulted my investors. Why would I consult you?"
"Because you wouldn't be here without me!" said Dylan with an arrogant sneer. "You owe me!"
"I owe YOU?" gasped Ryan. "As I remember, you begged for an interview!"
Dylan was proud of his success. | Source: Unsplash
"And you gave it to me -- and the job -- because I was the best candidate!" Dylan cried.
"No." Ryan shook his head. "No, Dylan. I wasn't going to give you the job. You were arrogant and entitled and I thought you'd be a liability."
"Then why did you hire me?" asked Dylan, shocked.
"Because your grandmother called me," Ryan said quietly. "She told me that you came across a little too strong, but that you were honest, dedicated, and reliable. I was impressed by your grandmother, to be honest, not with you."
"She did that?" asked Dylan in a whisper.
"Yes," Ryan said calmly. "And she was right. I still think she was right. You've been my right-hand man for 35 years, but you do cross boundaries once in a while -- and you've crossed one today."
Dylan was shocked to hear the company was going public at a meeting. | Source: Pexels
Dylan flushed. "I'm sorry," he mumbled. "I know I'm arrogant, but I don't mean... I never intended to offend..."
Ryan grinned. "After all this time I think I know you better than anyone else. You have an important place in this company, Dylan, but I'm still the boss."
Ryan told Dylan he'd be the COO, and he ended up apologizing profusely. After he left Ryan's office, Dylan kept going over the conversation again and again. He remembered his excitement after his first interview with Ryan -- and the nagging feeling he'd come across too strong.
He'd admitted as much to his grandmother Esther, but he never imagined she'd interceded for him. "All this time," he whispered. "I kept congratulating myself that I did it alone, and I owed you everything, Gran Esther!"
Esther had been a bastion of strength after Dylan's parents divorced when he was 15. Both his parents had remarried, and Dylan had felt so uneasy with the whole situation that he moved in with Esther and stayed until he completed college.
Once he started working for Ryan and his career took off, Dylan moved out and into his own apartment. After that, he seldom visited Esther and called her three or four times a year.
"You didn't even consult me about the IPO!" | Source: Pexels
When she died, he remembered feeling surprised more than grief-stricken. He put her and his unhappy adolescence far behind him, and wasn't keen on remembering any part of it.
A few months later, a lawyer called him and informed him that Esther had left him her house and Dylan didn't even bother to look the property over. He simply instructed the lawyer to lock it up and stuck the keys in his desk drawer.
Now he found himself remembering Esther and those dark years that she'd made bearable with her love, her sweetness, and her wry humor. Tears filled his eyes. "I abandoned you," Dylan whispered. "I'm so sorry!"
On impulse, Dylan rummaged through the desk drawer and pulled out the keys to Esther's house. He hopped into his car and drove across town to the old neighborhood.
It all looked exactly the same. The neat streets were overshadowed by trees, the pretty houses with their little gardens filled with roses. Esther had been so proud of her house, Dylan remembered and felt a twinge of guilt.
He could well imagine what the house looked like after 23 years of neglect. But when he pulled up in front of the house, it looked as neat as a pin. The lawn was mowed, the roses were in bloom, and jasmine was climbing the gazebo in the garden.
Esther had convinced Ryan to give Dylan a chance. | Source: Unsplash
Some neighbor was probably looking after the garden to make sure the neighborhood didn't look run down, Dylan thought. He walked up the path and unlocked the front door.
He had expected to find the house musty with the smell of dust and neglect, but it smelled fresh and sweet -- it smelled of flowers and floor polish like it had in Esther's day.
Dylan looked around him in astonishment. The house looked exactly the same! The furniture glowed, and not a speck of dust marred the window panes. In fact, there was not a speck of dust or a smudge of dirt anywhere that he could see.
He walked into the kitchen and saw that Esther's old-fashioned copper pots were burnished as bright as new pennies! "What?" he cried. "That's impossible!"
It was then that a woman walked into the kitchen. She was carrying a vase with a bouquet of water lilies and at the sight of Dylan, she gave a little scream and dropped the vase, splashing water and scattering shards of crystal everywhere.
"Dylan!" the woman cried. "Oh my God! You gave me a fright!"
Mary was shocked to see Dylan. | Source: Pexels
That was when Dylan recognized the woman. It was Mary Durrel! She'd lived next door to Esther with her parents, and she'd been just as unhappy as Dylan. Esther had been Mary's refuge too, Dylan remembered.
Mary had been a skinny, pimply girl with a whispery voice and huge frightened eyes. The pimples were gone, but she was still much too thin and she looked very tired.
"What are you doing here?" Dylan asked her.
"Just before Esther died she asked me to keep the house ready for when you moved in," Mary explained. "I thought it would be maybe a month or two, but as time went by, I realized you weren't coming back.
"I guess you wanted to put those years behind you, but I'd made Esther a promise, you see. She'd been so wonderful to me, so kind. She gave me a safe haven when my own home was hell.
"I guess after a while coming here and keeping things the way Esther had liked them became my way of remembering her, my way of paying tribute to the wonderful woman she'd been."
Dylan didn't visit Esther when she became ill. | Source. Unsplash
Dylan felt himself coloring with shame. Esther HAD been wonderful. She had given Dylan a home, love, and support -- and she'd even interceded to make sure he got the opportunity he needed to launch his career.
And what had Dylan done? As soon as he could, he walked out and never looked back. He did his best to forget his past and neglected Esther shamefully.
Meanwhile, Mary, who had been just a neighbor's child, had been there for Esther during those last years, giving back all the love and devotion she'd received while Dylan had done nothing.
He felt tears fill his eyes. "I didn't even go to the funeral," he whispered. "My mother was going to be there with her new family, so I refused to go. I forgot that it was all about Esther, not me.
"I never even came back when I heard she was so ill. I never said goodbye, and I never told her how much I loved her, or how much she'd meant to me."
Mary smiled. "She knew," she said gently. "We talked about you quite a lot, Dylan. Esther said you were driven to prove yourself because of how your parents had raised you without love.
Dylan didn't even go to his grandmother's funeral. | Source: Unsplash
"She knew you loved her, she knew you'd come back and you did. I'd given up on you, and here you are."
"Too late," said Dylan sadly.
Mary smiled and her face was quite transformed. "It's NEVER too late. She knows you're here, Dylan, and I'll bet she's smiling right now."
"Mary," he said smiling back at her. "You were always so kind. But what about you? Are you married? Do you have children?"
Mary shrugged. "I WAS married, but it didn't work out," she confessed. "But I do have two wonderful children and they are both in college now. Life hasn't been easy, I have to admit.
"I have two jobs just to keep my head above water. Two kids in college is no joke. I'm lucky my son has an athletics scholarship which helps -- or I'd never manage."
Dylan was ashamed of his behavior. | Source: Unsplash
"Do you still live next door?" Dylan asked.
"I wish," Mary cried with a wry smile. "My parents sold the house and moved to Florida so they could argue in a warmer climate! I rent an apartment in a neighborhood about twenty minutes away. It's not the nicest neighborhood, but it's what I can afford.
"I come here twice a month to dust and clean and put up some fresh flowers, and my son comes on Saturdays to mow the lawn and keep up the garden."
Dylan was struck by a brilliant idea. "Listen," he said. "How about you give up the apartment and move in here? That way the house will be in use... You'd be doing me a favor!"
"Are you sure?" asked Mary. "This is your house!"
"I'm sure," Dylan said. "And I'm sure that it's what Esther would have wanted!"
Mary was smiling again. "You have no idea what a big help that would be!"
Dylan gave Mary Esther's house. | Source: Unsplash
"I'll pay for the utilities," Dylan added. "After all, you and your kids have been working as caretakers for free. It's the least I can do!"
Mary agreed and arranged to move into Esther's house at the end of the month. When she arrived, she was in for a huge surprise. There was a huge bouquet of roses in the hall and a big brown envelope with her name on it.
When she opened it, she found the deed to Esther's house. Dylan had transferred the house into her name. The house was now hers! Dylan had added a note telling her that he'd be paying the utilities and the property taxes in perpetuity. All he wanted in return was to visit once in a while and talk about Esther and all she'd done for them both.
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