A man is haunted by recurring dreams of his deceased grandmother begging him to return to their old house -- and when he does, it changes his life.
Do you believe that those we love can reach out to us in dreams and change the course of our lives? Theodore Halloran would have scoffed at it as silly superstition (Ted would have used the word 'stupid') until it happened to him.
You must understand that Theodore Halloran wasn't a happy man, but he was very successful, very rich, and influential. Unfortunately, he wasn't very likable, or loveable. Those women who approached him for his money quickly moved on.
No amount of money was worth putting up with Ted and his unpleasant, exacting personality. No one loved Ted, and Ted didn't love anyone -- but it hadn't always been like that.
Ted's grandmother's old house was a decrepit shell. | Source: Shutterstock.com
Those who knew Ted the best -- his employees -- and put up with his demands and cutting remarks would have been shocked to learn that once someone had adored Ted. Once, Ted had been a beloved child — sweet, sensitive, and vulnerable.
Sadly, that boy was long gone, crushed beneath the suffering he had endured, and his ruthless single-minded climb to the top.
The ones we loved and lost are with us always.
Ted had been born to teenage parents who had no idea how to raise a child. So until he was three, his life was unstable and frightening. Then his parents (who had since given themselves over to addiction) handed him over to his paternal grandmother, Gwen.
Gwen had been in her fifties then, and very poor. She counted herself lucky to have inherited a tiny wooden cottage from her own parents, and that is where she took Ted.
Ted had a reputation as an unpleasant, exacting man. | Source: Unsplash
Life with Gwen wasn't the lap of luxury, but there was a wealth of love. Gwen took on a job as a cleaner to supplement her meager pension, but she still struggled to make ends meet.
Ted, as young as he was, could see the difference between how he lived and how his schoolmates lived. Things got worse when he grew a little older. He was an exceptionally gifted child and was offered a scholarship at the state's most prestigious private school.
Gwen made sure Ted's uniform was always clean and neatly pressed, but it was obvious that it was second-hand. His colleagues mocked him and called him Second-Rate Ted.
They were wrong though. There was nothing second-rate about Ted's mind. He was brilliant, and at 13, he was doing college-level work. Gwen was so proud of him! "One day I'm going to buy you a new house!" Ted would promise and Gwen would smile.
Gwen was poor but she gave Ted a wealth of love. | Source: Unsplash
She'd insist on walking him home every day, and even though it was embarrassing, Ted let her. Gwen was getting old, he realized, and a terrible pain would squeeze his heart. If she died he'd be alone...
Gwen died when Ted was in his first year at college. She never saw him graduate from Harvard summa cum laude, never saw him become the best in the business. It hurt so much Ted vowed that he'd never be hurt again.
So he dedicated himself to accumulating money, lots and lots of money. He vowed that he'd never be poor again. What he didn't know was that he already lived in the greatest emotional and spiritual poverty...
One night he dreamed about Gwen. She was standing at the foot of his bed smiling. "Honey," she whispered. "Wake up! It's time to go home!"
Gwen died when Ted was in college. | Source: Unsplash
Ted woke up with a scream. Go home? Go home to the decrepit old house smelling of mold, with the water dripping through the leaky roof and the scurrying roaches behind the walls? Never.
But the dream recurred. Gwen came back the next night, and the night after. "Honey, please come home!" she insisted and stretched out pleading arms. "I love you, Teddy. Please come home!"
By the end of the week, Ted was a nervous wreck. Every time he closed his eyes there she was. He had no rest! Then he decided that the only way to lay the nightmare to rest was to face it down.
Ted climbed into his Italian sports car and drove to his grandmother's old neighborhood. It was freezing and there was snow on the ground, covering the tiny garden where he'd once played, but there was a thin thread of smoke winding up from the chimney.
Ted had the best of everything but he was alone. | Source: Unsplash
"There's someone in the house!" Ted realized. But who could it be? The house's windows were boarded up, the roof leaked, and the wind whistled through the walls.
"You'd have to be desperate to live here!" he thought as he shoved open the door. He heard a cry of alarm and saw that a woman was sitting on Gwen's old couch as close as she could to the fireplace, and there was a child in her arms.
The woman was staring up at him, clutching the child, but it didn't move. Ted saw that the child (it looked like a girl but it was hard to tell) was deadly pale and breathing shallowly. Its lips were blue.
Ted had been about to demand to know who the woman was and what she was doing there, but what he asked was: "What's wrong with the kid?"
Ted started dreaming about his grandmother. | Source: Pexels
"She's sick. She's burning up," the woman said in a thread whisper. "I think she has pneumonia."
"She should be in the hospital!" Ted cried, stepping closer to the woman. "You have to take her."
"I have no insurance," the woman said tiredly. "No money, nothing. I can't even buy food. I think...I think we will die here."
Ted was shocked. "This is my house! You're not dying in my house!" he cried. He took off his $5,000 cashmere overcoat and wrapped the sick girl up in it as if it was a blanket. "Come on!"
Ted found Sarah and Charlotte living in the abandoned house. | Source: Unsplash
Ted carried the child to his car and placed her in the mother's arms, then he broke the speed limit driving them to the nearest private hospital which was where he sent his employees. He carried the little girl into reception and shouted: "I WANT A DOCTOR!"
The medical staff immediately swarmed around the child, but an administrative member of staff approached the ragged woman. "Excuse me..." she said. "Do you have insurance?"
Ted stepped in immediately. "She doesn't need insurance. I'm paying the bills. In cash, if you like!"
The administrative staff member looked very embarrassed. "That's quite alright, Mr. Halloran, that's quite alright!"
Ted made sure Charlotte had the best treatment. | Source: Unsplash
Ted sat in the waiting room with the girl's mom all night, waiting for news. The woman's name was Sarah, and the girl's name was Charlotte. Ted held her hand and talked to her softly, comfortingly. His employees wouldn't have recognized him, but Gwen would.
Charlotte made it, she'd be OK, but she'd have a long, slow recovery, the doctors said. Ted thought about them going back to that icy old house and came up with a plan.
"Listen, Sarah," he said. "My live-in housekeeper quit on me and I need a new one. Why don't you come and work for me? The money's good..."
Sarah didn't know that Ted had no housekeeper because they all quit after the first week -- he had a cleaning service. She didn't know that he was unpleasant and unlovable.
Ted fell in love with Sarah and he married her. | Source: Unsplash
She accepted the job and moved in with Charlotte. It worked out quite well. Ted found that he liked walking into a house where the lights were on and a pie was baking in the oven, and he didn't even mind the toys scattered around his designer sitting room.
Two years later, Ted offered Sarah a more permanent position: he asked her to marry him and put up with his difficult temperament for the rest of his life. Sarah didn't think he was at all harsh or difficult. She saw the real man, the man Gwen had raised, and she loved him. Ted would never be alone again.
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