Man Adopts Late Friend’s Son as Promised, Learns about Boy’s Legacy When Last Paper Was Signed – Story of the Day
A disabled soldier adopts his late best friend's little son to keep the promise he'd made moments before a blast during the war. While signing the adoption papers months later, a surprise comes to light.
The situation was tense as fighter jets dotted the blue sky with a white trail and a booming sound, awakening the pride and patriotism of the soldiers fighting for their country. Behind the wall of sandbags, two buddies gasped and discussed their fate in the war.
"Comrade!" Buddy, Henry's best friend, called him. "What more do we have left in our civilian life? How many days more is this going to last?"
Beads of tears rolled down, smudging Buddy's camouflage face paint as he could not stop thinking about his little son, Cory. He took an old wallet from his pocket and painfully brushed his son's photo.
"I want to see and hug him one last time, Comrade."
"Bud, why one last time? We will go home after this. Don't lose heart. Stay strong. This too shall pass."
"No, Comrade... I'm getting this weird feeling something bad's gonna happen. Will you take care of my son if something happens to me? Please promise me you will not orphan my little boy."
"Nothing will happen, Bud. You will go home soon and see your son."
"Comrade, please promise me you'll be there for my son if something happens," Buddy pestered.
"Alright, I promise!" As Henry and Buddy fist-bumped, a loud blast ensued, turning their lives grave silent and completely dark in a flash...
Three days later, at the military hospital...
The grim silence in the ward Henry was admitted to was suddenly awakened by loud ambulance sirens piercing through the air. More soldiers, injured, dead, and some battling with their last few minutes, were rushed in on stretchers. Henry suddenly opened his eyes and wanted to move. But he couldn't do that as quickly as before.
"Sir, relax. Please don't move," the nurse rushed to him.
"I want to use the restroom, please. I want to get up."
"Sir, one second," and moments later, the nurse returned with a pair of crutches. Henry did not understand why she had brought them until she lifted the blanket. The painful truth blew Henry away when he saw his amputated leg. His heart began pounding faster as he anxiously looked around for Buddy.
"My friend... my mate Buddy... where is he??"
The nurse pressed her lips tight and said, "I'm sorry, sir... he was killed in the blast."
Pain and heartbreak crawled through every nerve of Henry's body, and he had never felt so weak and beaten down.
"I want to see him... please take me to Buddy," Henry cried.
But he was not allowed to do that immediately. He was ordered complete bed rest until his leg healed. What crushed him more was he could not be a part of his best friend's funeral. Their odd jokes, the moments they cried on each other's shoulders, and Buddy's loud laughter haunted a bereaved Henry.
Six weeks later, he was discharged and sent home on disability retirement. Before leaving, he visited his late friend's grave, placed the wreath, and said:
"I will do anything to keep my promise, Bud. Your son is now my son."
Henry had grown up in a shelter all his life after losing his parents in a road accident when he was ten. As he grew older, he was drawn to serving his country and being a part of something bigger than himself. Motivated by his love for his country, Henry became a soldier.
Whenever he returned to his hometown every year, he would visit the shelter he grew up in. But this time, he could not bring himself together to do it. He was heartbroken, and after arriving home, he decided to find Cory.
"Buddy told me his mother is too old to care for his son. I need to see the boy immediately."
Henry and Buddy were native to the same hometown, so he managed to track down his mate's address and went there to meet the boy.
"Hey, I'm Henry, Buddy's friend from the army," he told an older woman who answered the door. She looked fragile and sick and couldn't immediately respond.
"Come in," she said and walked in without another word.
Henry followed her in his wheelchair and saw several photos of Buddy with his late wife, Ellie, and son, Cory, 5. Ellie had died during childbirth and while Buddy was in service, his mother, Dorothy, looked after his little son. But due to old age, she could not cope with the heavy responsibility. Dorothy was already heartbroken and shattered after losing her only son in the war, and to make things worse, she had ongoing health issues.
How will I tell her that I want to adopt Cory? Henry wondered. He didn't want to trouble Dorothy further and waited for the right time to discuss his promise to his late friend.
As time dragged by, Henry started visiting Cory regularly and brought toys for him during every visit. Justice League action figures were his favorite, Buddy often told him.
One day, when Henry least expected it, Dorothy asked him if he could take Cory in after her death. He was surprised because he had been trying to figure out how to bring up the topic of Cory's adoption to her.
"Son, I'm very old and weak. My eyesight is failing, and I'm not able to walk around like before. Fate is unpredictable, and anything might happen to anyone at any time. Will you adopt Cory?"
Taking it as a green signal from the heavens, Henry started with the paperwork for adopting the boy. Just as it was being finalized, Dorothy passed away. It appeared as though she knew her end of days was approaching.
After Dorothy was laid to rest peacefully near her late husband's grave, Henry got an unexpected call from the lawyer. While he thought it was about Cory's adoption, Henry didn't guess what else was in store for him the next day.
At the lawyer's office...
"You have to sign this document... and there's one more," the lawyer told Henry. He thought he was done when the lawyer offered him one last document to be signed.
Guessing little what it was, Henry hurriedly signed it because he was overly thrilled to take Cory home. As he added the last dot near his signature, the lawyer made a life-changing announcement.
"Mr. Hill, this is a copy of the will Cory's father had left. According to his wish, his son would inherit $75,000 on his eighteenth birthday. It is also mentioned in the will that his immediate guardian can use it."
"You're Cory's adoptive father; the money is all yours. Here's the check. Good luck, Mr. Hill!"
But Henry was not happy about the revelation.
"I cannot take this money. It belongs to my son, and only he should use it."
"Mr. Hill, the choice is yours. But it's my duty to inform you beforehand and hand the legacy over to you."
Henry accepted the check and took Cory home. As days passed, the boy started missing his father, and when he asked Henry, he was told that Buddy was still in the service.
I'll tell him everything once he is big enough to understand, Henry thought. He was unwilling to break the little one's heart and did everything he could to make him feel happy and loved.
When Henry least expected it, a woman arrived on his doorstep a few weeks later.
"I am Ella, Cory's aunt, and Buddy's sister. I have come to take my nephew with me. Can you please bring him to me?"
Henry was startled.
"Yes, you heard that right. These are some photographs of my late brother and me before he joined the service."
"But Buddy never told me about you."
"Ah, he wouldn't have coz he doesn't like me. I fled home to pursue my career in fashion. Let's not get into too much detail. Send the boy with me along with his money. When we were on speaking terms, my brother told me his son would inherit all his savings."
Henry got the whole picture of what Ella was after.
"If Buddy wanted you to adopt his son, he wouldn't have asked me to do it. And you are not gonna get a penny of my son's money. Get outta here."
Ella pursed her lips and stormed away, frowning. While Henry thought it was the end, another blow arrived through a court notice a week later. Ella had sued Henry to claim custody of her nephew and his legacy.
At the court on the day of the hearing...
Henry arrived in the court with Cory, determined to return home with him.
I will never let anybody take you away from me. You are my son... my best friend's living memory. I will not let anything come between us, he thought as he confidently wheeled in.
As Ella's lawyer accused Henry of adopting Cory for his money, Henry was called to the witness box.
"Your Honor, I am least interested in my son's inheritance. It belongs to him, and he will be the sole heir to it on his eighteenth birthday."
"But why do you want to raise the boy when his aunt has offered to be his guardian? Is there something you'd like to tell us?" the judge interrupted.
As everybody set their curious gaze on Henry, he burst into tears.
"Because I promised my late friend Buddy I would be a father to his son. That I'll not orphan him, instead, I'll raise him the way Buddy would've done it if he were here—Your Honor, it's a soldier's vow, and when a soldier makes a promise, he will do anything to keep it."
"That's ridiculous. Your Honor, send the boy with me. I have the right over him, and over my brother's money," Ella fumed, giving the judge a hint that she was only after Cory's inheritance.
After careful consideration and listening to both sides, the judge announced her verdict.
"The boy will live with his adoptive father, Mr. Henry Hill, who will also possess custody of his money until his eighteenth birthday."
The court was adjourned as everybody applauded Henry for stepping up for his dead friend's son. Ella frowned and challenged she would tackle the matter in the high court, but Henry never bothered nor saw her again.
Henry raised Cory devoting his heart and soul to the boy's well-being.
"Time waits for none," Henry often laughed as he gently brushed his salt-and-pepper beard whenever he looked in the mirror. Years had flown by, and it was Cory's eighteenth birthday. In the middle of the birthday bash that marked Cory's independence and adulthood, Henry gifted him an envelope with the check and a copy of his late father's will.
"Daddy, what's this??"
"Sweetheart, it's your inheritance!! Your dad Buddy has left this for you, and you are supposed to have it after turning eighteen!"
Cory read the will and melted into tears after realizing his adoptive dad never took a dime from his money. He was deeply touched and devised a sweet surprise for Henry a few days later.
Two days after the birthday party...
Cory hugged Henry and handed him two flight tickets.
"Son, what's this??"
"Daddy, we are flying to New York in two days to get your new prosthetic leg!!"
Henry could not hold back his tears. He dedicated every second to raising Cory, and though aware of prosthetic legs, he never had the idea of getting one. He was only determined to give his best to make his son's life happier, and when Cory proposed the idea, Henry was stunned.
"But son, why would you want to spend your inheritance on me?"
Cory hugged Henry another time and said tearfully:
"Because you are my DAD!! And I'm your SON!! There is nothing called your money or my money between a dad and a son."
"Even if I bring down the sky at your feet, dad, it will not make up for your love and care. I want to thank you in so many ways, and this is nothing. You are my true hero who taught me how a promise could change a person's life. I love you, daddy...I love you more for keeping your promise to my dad...and even more for being my DAD!!"
Henry stood speechless as it rained tears from his eyes. He hugged Cory and spoke no more, and they flew to New York two days later.
What can we learn from this story?
- Money can buy you fancy stuff, but it cannot buy the treasured love of a family and the admiration of friends. Despite having a chance to claim his late friend Buddy's son's inheritance, Henry did not take a dime from it. He valued love over money and was not greedy.
- Your loved ones are a link to your past and a bridge to your future. If you break them, you lose yourself. Henry loved Cory and made every effort to keep his promise to his late best friend. Regardless of his hurdles, Henry never gave up and continued to do his best for his son.
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