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Man kissing motherly older woman on the forehead | Source: Shutterstock
Source: Man kissing motherly older woman on the forehead | Source: Shutterstock

Widower Struggles to Raise Sons & Care For Mom-In-Law, Learns about $300K Inheritance Later – Story of the Day

Preeti Pillai
Nov 07, 2022
11:30 A.M.
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Justin and his mother-in-law Rebecca were two very different people who never got along – until they lost the most important person in their lives. Would it be too late before they heal from this?

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It was amazing how much energy Erica's husband and mother-in-law had to fight with each other over every little thing.

Erica's mother, Rebecca, was a traditional, church-going, God-fearing woman who thought she had raised her daughter to be the same. But when Erica decided to marry an aspiring artist named Justin, who didn't believe in God, Rebecca knew she would never be able to accept him.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

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Justin saw her as an orthodox woman who was petty and hurtful, while Rebecca saw him as a lazy, rebellious, tattoo-sporting struggler who wasn't worthy of her daughter.

And neither of them wasted a single opportunity to argue and try to defeat the other.

"I'm getting tired of this, Justin!" Erica rolled her eyes and blurted carefully. She was angry, but she did not want to wake their teenage sons, who had just fallen asleep after another fight among the adults of the family.

"Mom's getting older, babe, and you know how worked up she can get about little things. It's not like she hates you—"

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Justin threw his hands in the air and frowned. "This is what you always do. You always take HER side!"

As Erica watched her husband storm off to another room, she knew it was going to be another one of those days of her trying to look after her two growing teens and two additional grown-ups who were acting like teenagers.

Don't sweat the differences with your loved ones; your love is stronger than that.

Justin was getting tired of the fights, too. "It's starting to affect me as a husband and a father, for God's sake! No matter what I do, I'm never going to be good enough in that woman's eyes!" Justin vented on one of the nights out with his friends.

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Justin decided to distance himself from Rebecca as much as he could. He avoided joining Erica and the kids when they went to visit her every weekend. Until one day, Erica came home crying and worried…

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

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Rebecca had a terrible fall in her village house, and the doctors said she wouldn't walk for several weeks.

"I've never seen her cry in pain like that, Justin! We need to take care of her. You'll come visit her tomorrow, won't you?" Erica asked with hopeful eyes.

Justin patted her head and looked away. He wasn't going to visit the woman who couldn't stand him. And no matter how much Erica tried to convince him, Justin's bruised heart kept him from going.

And then one day, when the kids were home, and Erica had gone away to see her mother, Justin got a call that shattered his heart into a million pieces – pieces he would never be able to put back together again.

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It was heartbreakingly poetic how Erica had tragically died on the long road between her husband and her mother.

Justin went through days of crying uncontrollably, then the emptiness of the house that still smelled like Erica, and then the worries of how he would get his 16-year-old and 14-year-old sons through the greatest tragedy of their lives.

Miles away, Rebecca was all alone and had forgotten to eat, sleep, or wipe her tears. She boycotted the sunlight by staying under her blanket until night would come, and she could cry all over again.

She hadn't spoken a word or seen a human face since Erica's funeral a week ago. So when she heard a knock on her door and the word "Mom!" coming from the other side, she rushed to see who it was.

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"Justin?!" She would never have guessed it was him. After all, he had never visited her place even once since he married her daughter.

Rebecca wanted to be angry, but looking at Justin's lifeless smile and softened eyes, she could see he was just as broken as she was. She couldn't believe it was the same carefree man that had whisked her daughter away from her.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

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Rebecca watched as Justin stocked her kitchen with food and opened every curtain. He cleared the cobwebs off the ceiling and checked the whole house for any repairs.

"Let's take a walk, mom," Justin said, holding Rebecca's hand with comforting strength and helping her get on her feet for the first time in months.

The two grieving souls walked across the empty village lane that afternoon, finally letting their guard down, and finally embracing each other like family.

Justin didn't realize when the sun had gone down that evening, and he finally walked to his car to leave. "Remember what I said, mom." Justin said, turning around one last time, "the kids and I will be here to pick you up. We're taking you home with us, where you belong!"

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With tears in her eyes, Rebecca waved and softly mumbled, "I love you, son!" As she saw his car disappear into the distance, she wondered if he had heard those words.

Rebecca kept politely dodging the request to move out of her old home, even when Justin and the grandkids visited and tried to persuade her for a month. But Justin kept coming back, kept looking after her. And he did not say a word about how he was struggling to make ends meet with all the added responsibility...

Eventually, Rebecca's heart did melt. One night, she called Justin's phone, wanting to tell him she was ready to move in. But it was her grandson who answered the phone.

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"Oh, dad? He got home an hour ago, and he just left for his night shift at the hotel. He forgot his phone…"

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

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"I thought your dad worked at the mall…" Rebecca was surprised.

"Well, yeah. That's his day job. He picked up a night shift as a cleaner, too. And he works on weekends at the bar…"

Rebecca was speechless after knowing how hard Justin had been working. From their recent conversations, she could tell he was struggling, too.

By the time Justin realized that Rebecca had called her, he received another phone call. It was from the hospital. Rebecca had a heart attack.

Justin did his best to reach the hospital quickly, but life only gave them an hour together. And in that hour, Rebecca managed to do something incredibly kind for the young man who loved her daughter…

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"Son," she said, holding his warm hands. "I've been wrong about you. I never thought you were good enough for my daughter. But what I couldn't understand about you in all these years, you showed me in just one month…"

Justin tried to hold back his tears, realizing that Rebecca's light was slowly fading.

"Son, you've got a great task ahead of you. It's not just raising your kids or giving them everything you can. But it is doing all of that without losing hope when things get tough. Now, I would've loved to move in with you and the kids, help you take care of them, and take care of you, too. But my time has come. And before I go, I want you to have something..." Saying this, she asked Justin to open her purse and pull out an envelope.

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For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

"That," Rebecca heaved, "is some inheritance I received from a distant aunt a week before our Erica passed away. I wanted to leave this only to her. 'Never to that lazy husband of hers,' I thought. But I've seen you grow; I've seen you struggle and not give up." Rebecca smiled through tears.

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"It's yours now. It's not enough to turn your life around. But this is all I have, and this is all that I can do for you, child!"

Justin didn't open the envelope until two days later when it fell out of his jacket pocket as he stood at Rebecca's grave.

It was a check for $300,000. Justin broke down at the final memory of his mother-in-law, how she had made him promise he would use that money for himself and the children. He remembered how they had fought all these years and how they had laughed on their recent walks.

And he remembered how both of them had missed their Erica.

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"Erica, darling, I did my best… for mom," Justin spoke to the heavens. "Now, she's all yours!"

In the following year, Justin opened a small business of art supplies and workshops in the city, and thanks to his tireless efforts, it went on to make him enough money to provide for the kids' education and future.

Justin's life got easier, but he never forgot to visit Rebecca's grave every week.

"I love you, mom," Justin would whisper, wondering if the sweet old woman's soul could still hear him somehow.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Getty Images

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What can we learn from this story?

  • Don't sweat the differences with your loved ones; your love is stronger than that. Justin and Rebecca spent years angry and arguing with each other when they were both good human beings who were a family.
  • Death has a way of bringing people closer. Erica's husband and mother, who always fought when she was alive, became each other's shoulder to cry on after she died.

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 another single father who was struggling to raise his babies, when help came knocking from the most unexpected people.

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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