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People at a funeral. | Getty Images
Source: People at a funeral. | Getty Images

Man Invites Family to Celebrate Thanksgiving a Month Earlier, They Learn He’s Dead the Day Before – Story of the Day

Roshanak Hannani
Sep 30, 2022
04:30 P.M.
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An older man discovered he didn't have long to live and tried to get his family together. After much convincing, they gathered at his house on Thanksgiving only to find out that he was gone for good, and they learned a harsh lesson.

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"Finally," Roger said, taking his reading glasses off. He had finally managed to convince his family to come for Thanksgiving. It was a month earlier than normal because they all had other plans with their in-laws on the original date. But who said you couldn't celebrate Thanksgiving in October?

Roger often sent messages in the family group chat about arranging a family reunion, but everyone had an excuse. The holidays were still a few months away, but this was imperative.

Roger was in his 80s and had just been diagnosed with late-stage cancer. His doctors told him about certain treatments, but the older man didn't want to spend his remaining moments on earth in pain and receiving pity. Therefore, he told the doctors he would arrange his affairs and let nature handle things.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Robert also decided not to tell anyone in the family, although he knew that his diagnosis would probably get them to visit immediately, especially his children. But he didn't want to play that card. He would rather they came because they wanted to be closer to family, not because they felt obligated.

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"Is this a joke? Young man, this is not funny!" Aunt Marianne scolded, pointing an angry finger at the man.

Roger's wife passed away ten years earlier. She would've liked such a reunion after years of being alone in their hometown.

Finally, after many video chats, text messages, emails, and offering to pay for some of their airline tickets, Roger got them all to agree to spend Thanksgiving in his house in Lexington, Kentucky.

They were flying in from all over the country. His sons Sean and Leonard lived in California with their families, while his youngest, Lucy, was in Spain, where she married and had her own children.

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Roger also invited his remaining living sister, Marianne, her family, some cousins, and all their children, and grandchildren. He wanted a packed house.

Once everyone finally accepted his invitation, Roger started making preparations. He had already hired a lawyer to handle his end-of-life affairs, but the attorney's wife was a party planner, so he roped her in and started preparing the best Thanksgiving dinner in the world.

But Roger never imagined he wouldn't have enough time left.

"Mr. McCaughan, there's a chance you might not make it to Thanksgiving. What should I do if that happens? Contact your family?" his attorney asked him during one of their many conversation over those last months.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

The older man didn't answer for a while. He stared out of his window at the view of Lexington from his high building, placing his hands in his pockets. Finally, he sighed. "I have an idea."

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***

"It's so nice to see you! You look so beautiful and so tanned, Lucy!" Aunt Marianne told Roger's daughter, whom she hadn't seen since the wedding in Madrid.

"Thank you, Auntie. I'm glad Dad arranged this dinner," Lucy replied.

They were just outside Roger's home, and cars started arriving, so instead of going right inside, people stopped to greet each other on the older man's lawn. Children began running around despite their parents' objections, but the vibe was so beautiful.

"I agree, dear. We should do this every year." Aunt Marianne kissed Lucy's cheek and moved on when she saw a cousin. Everyone had also brought some desserts and gifts, so they were busy carrying boxes and bags.

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Suddenly, Sean noticed something odd. "Where's Dad? Why isn't he out here meeting everyone?" he wondered, looking around. People shrugged until Leonard chimed in.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"He's probably inside busy with something. Let's just go in, man. Everybody, let's start going in," Leonard called out to everyone and went to the door. It was open, and the most beautiful display greeted them.

Roger's home smelled of pumpkin spice and was decorated with fall motifs – from pumpkins to fallen leaves to pilgrim hats, and everyone marveled at the beauty. They started coming in, making themselves at home. They took a peek at the backyard, where a vast table had been arranged perfectly for the entire family to have dinner.

There was also a kids' table, and it was as pretty as the rest of the ambiance. They also noticed some staff working in the kitchen, others came to greet them, taking their bags and desserts.

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"This is nice! Roger really outdid himself," Aunt Marianne smiled as she went to the kitchen to check on the food.

"Dad!" Lucy started calling. "We're here! Dad!"

Roger was nowhere in sight but after a few minutes of people mingling in the backyard and chit-chatting, a woman they had never met told them to sit down as dinner was ready.

"Where's our dad?" Sean asked her, and she gave him a pursed smile, putting her hands together in a sympathetic gesture he couldn't understand.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Let's get the family settled, and you'll understand soon enough," the woman told him and went back inside, expecting everyone to follow her lead without any more questions. But Sean, Leonard, and Lucy frowned at each other.

"Something's up," Lucy told her big brothers.

"Yeah, but let's sit down. The rest of the family can't sense anything weird, and I have a feeling Dad planned this," Leonard told her through tight lips so others wouldn't hear him.

They ushered everyone over to the table, and even the kids settled quickly. Everyone was hungry, but the mood was cheerful. However, that was about to change soon.

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Suddenly, the woman who called them to dinner came out with a man they had never met. He was carrying a briefcase, and the three siblings sat up in interest.

"Welcome, everyone. I'm Mr. Fienberg, Mr. McCaughan's lawyer, and you met my wife, Mrs. Fienberg, over there. She planned this event," the man began, and everyone looked at the woman, clapping.

"Thank you. Thank you for that. Mr. McCaughan wanted you to have a great time," Mrs. Fienberg revealed.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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Lucy's eyebrow furrowed once again. "Where's Dad?" she said sternly, and her husband placed a hand on her arm.

"Well, that's what I'm here to tell you," Mr. Fienberg replied. "I assume you're Lucy. Your father told me everything about almost everyone here. Now... I'm sorry to tell you this... but Mr. McCaughan passed yesterday."

"What?" Sean asked, jumping from the table and throwing his linen napkin forcefully.

"Please, sit down," the lawyer urged. But Leonard was also on his feet, and Lucy had started crying.

"Is this a joke? Young man, this is not funny!" Aunt Marianne scolded, pointing an angry finger at the man.

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"Please, listen to me, everyone," Mr. Fienberg requested loudly, and everyone quieted down.

The lawyer told them about Roger's diagnosis and how he was never sure he would make it for Thanksgiving, but he wanted the dinner to happen, regardless of whether he made it or not.

Roger specifically instructed Mr. Feinberg that in the event of his death, he and his wife should continue with the event as planned and encourage the family to enjoy their dinner.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"He wanted everyone to honor him this way, in case he wouldn't make it," Mr. Fienberg finished, his hands clasped together in front of him as he watched everyone's reactions.

The women were crying, and Sean and Leonard were stoic. Their spouses had no idea what to do, and the children were confused. Lucy had her head on her husband's shoulder, and the silence in the air was jarring. The mood had shifted entirely, which was not what Roger wanted.

Finally, Aunt Marianne stood up. "I don't think my brother wanted us to be sad. I think he wanted us to enjoy Thanksgiving, celebrate his life, and be thankful for our family," she said, looking at each person at the table. "So, Mrs. Fienberg, you can tell the staff to start serving. We're eating."

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Everyone hesitated, but as the staff brought the food, they slowly started gathering stuff on their plates.

"You know, Dad always loved Thanksgiving, and he was cheesy, so he made us go around and say a few words. Why don't we do that?" Lucy asked everyone. She had dried her tears, but her eyes were red-rimmed. She was barely keeping it together.

"I'll start. I'm thankful that I had the best parents in the world. I had the best big brothers who protected me, and I now have a great husband, amazing kids, and a wonderful life. I have everyone my dad ever wanted for me. So, I guess that brings me peace and makes me even more grateful."

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

People's eyes watered again at Lucy words, then Sean chimed in. Leonard went next. Aunt Marianne followed. Slowly, everyone had their turn, and even the kids said their piece from their table.

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Some people shared their great memories of Roger, including the holidays they spent in his home before everyone moved away.

Despite the terrible news and the absence of the person who had planned the event, the family had a great time that Thanksgiving. The food was delicious, the house was beautiful, and they rejoiced at being reunited.

When dinner was over, Mr. Fienberg told Roger's children he was arranging the funeral for the next day, and they all thought it was a good idea.

As they buried their father, they promised to see each more often. And every third Thursday of October from then on was this family's Thanksgiving.

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What can we learn from this story?

  • Spend as much time with your family as possible because life is short. Roger often failed at getting his family together, and when he finally did, it was too late for him.
  • Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and to remember all the good things you have in life. Always appreciate the love you receive, the people who give it, and the blessings that come your way.

Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who brought his girlfriend to meet his family on Thanksgiving, but she ran away before dinner.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers 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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