Brian was a spoiled kid from a wealthy family, and when his father passed, he had to take care of his elderly mother. One day, she left the house and didn’t return, which Brian thought was a relief until hours passed. He went to find her only to receive the scariest phone call of his life.
On his deathbed, Brian’s father, Richard, begged him to take care of his mother, Sylvia. “She’s old, and her memory seems to be going away son,” his ailing father said, holding Brian’s hand.
“Yes, Dad. I will hire people to watch her always,” he assured him. But it wasn’t enough.
“No, son. It has to be you. If you don’t do this, you won’t receive anything once she’s gone. I made sure of it,” Richard revealed, and Brian tightened his grip slightly. However, his father flinched, so he eased up.
“You want me to move back home with my mother? Dad, I’m 50 years old. I have my own life,” Brian shook his head.
“Own life? Do you mean partying with women less than half of your age? That’s not a life. I gave up ever seeing you get married or getting grandchildren years ago, but at the very least, you’re going to move back into the house and care for your mother,” Richard said, getting angry. He started coughing roughly, and Brian caved.
“Mom,” he knocked on her door. No answer. “Mom!”
“OK. OK. I swear I’ll do it, Dad. Please, just calm down. Here, drink some water,” Brian said and helped him drink from the cup on his bedside.
Sylvia returned from the kitchen. “OK, son. I can watch him now,” she patted Brian’s shoulder.
“Rest a bit, Dad. I’ll be back soon,” he told his father, who nodded thoughtfully. Brian knew what he was saying even without words.
He also knew his father was serious. There was probably some kind of provision in his will that would prevent Brian from getting anything if he didn’t care for his mother. Back then, he knew that his mother was the sole inheritor of everything, and he was fine with that. But he had not known that his father would request this of him.
The idea of moving back home and living with his mother, a 78-year-old woman, was so humiliating. However, he would do it if it meant he would get the money.
I mean, I care about my mother, but I wouldn’t choose this ever. Then again, I would not so willingly give up on my inheritance, Brian thought hard as he got in his car and started planning his move. His father died later that week, and he moved into the house shortly afterward.
However, Brian told his mother he was doing it so she wouldn’t be alone and because he had promised his father on his deathbed. Sylvia nodded and kissed his cheek, welcoming him home.
A few months later, the signs of Sylvia’s cognitive decline became more evident. The doctors ran several tests, and there was nothing concrete. But they talked about possible Alzheimer’s or dementia. The bright side was that Brian hired a nurse to care for his mother fully. He was still in the house like his father had demanded, but he didn’t have to watch her all the time.
Sylvia had some good days and some bad ones. The doctors said it would only worsen with time, but Brian wasn’t too worried. Unfortunately, he never imagined what would happen one day when the nurse called in sick.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Collins. My daughter has to be hospitalized,” the nurse said.
“That’s unaccep—I mean, I’m sorry about that. But shouldn’t the agency send someone to replace you?” Brian asked, catching himself from saying something insensitive.
“Everyone’s booked. They’ll be refunding you for today. I have to go,” the nurse replied and hung up.
“Wait!” Brian said, but the call had ended. “Jesus!”
He had plans that day. His job as a higher-up in his dad’s business meant he could choose when to work. He went to work maybe three days a week for a couple of hours. However, he had seen a beautiful barista working at the coffee shop near his parent’s house, so he wanted to invite her out.
Would my mother be alright if I left her alone? he wondered, still getting dressed despite this change of plans. I guess I’ll ask her.
“Mom, Nurse Jackie is not coming today, but I have to go to the office today. They need me urgently. Would you be alright alone just for today?” Brian asked his mother. Luckily, she looked up at him directly, and he knew she was feeling good that day and would probably remember.
“Really? Do you think I’m an idiot? I might be having trouble lately, but I know you. I know you don’t like working in your father’s business, and I know you’re only in this house because he threatened you,” Sylvia scoffed. He had never heard her speak like that to him before. “Yeah, I know about it all. But go on. Go flirt with some woman and spend money on her. You’ll never find love that way.”
Brian swallowed. “I am going to the office,” he said weakly until he got angry. “Whatever! I’ll do what I want. Goodbye!”
He left but suddenly didn’t want to pick up that barista. He felt emasculated, helpless, and weak. So, he actually went to the office. He doodled, played games on his computer, and checked his phone, making time.
The office had emptied without him noticing, so he left and went home. His mother’s words haunted him. He had no idea she knew about the situation, but something about the way she looked at him was even worse. Like she was disappointed in him for thinking so much about money.
She had always pampered and bragged about him before. Even as a rich kid, he had accomplished a lot. He got athletic and academic awards, went to a top college, and initially got a great start to his career. However, he later asked his father for a position in his company because he wanted to learn the ropes of the business he would inherit.
Richard and Sylvia had been so proud until Brian’s interest dwindled, and he showed up at the office less often. Looking back, he understood that now his parents looked at him with pity, and his father’s dying words expressing that they had given up on him getting married or having children were even more poignant now.
“Officers! Please, I got a call that my mother is being held hostage. Please!”
He should change that. But could he? He was 50 already. Would the other executives at the business agree to help him learn the ropes this time? Was all lost?
He thought about all that while driving home and wanted to talk to his mother about it. “Mom,” he knocked on her door. No answer. “Mom!”
Nothing, so he opened it, and no one was inside. His eyebrows rose, and he quickly walked to the house, checking the kitchen, bathrooms, garden, sunroom, and basement. His mother was not home.
And she wasn’t supposed to be out and about at all. Her mobility was acceptable for a woman her age, but he worried about her memory. Brian decided to run to his car and search for her, but one intrusive thought took front and center on his mind.
If she’s gone, I don’t have to worry anymore. I get the money, and I’m free, he thought. The idea was so intriguing and yet disturbing. But he sat on the living room couch and waited and waited and waited…
Five hours passed, and he couldn’t put it off anymore. He had to find her. She was hurt or lost or worse. Brian couldn’t believe he had waited, as if asking the universe for something to happen to his mother.
I’m the scum of the earth, and if she dies, I deserve nothing, he thought as he went outside. To his shock, there was heavy snow on the ground. He hadn’t even noticed a snowstorm coming and worried even more about his mother.
He got in the SUV with snow tires and started driving around, trying to find her. Eventually, he reached Mrs. Phillips’ house, their closest neighbor.
“I know it’s late, Mrs. Phillips, but have you seen my mother? She’s been gone for hours,” Brian asked desperately. But the neighbor knew nothing. They promised to keep a lookout while he continued driving around the neighborhood, calling Sylvia’s name.
After a few hours of searching, he finally went directly to the police station. It was 4 a.m., but someone had the night shift, and they took in his report. “Please, she has dementia or something. Please, help me find my mother,” Brian begged them, and the police officer assured him they would do their best.
He went home and tried to sleep to no avail, and when the sun was finally up, he got in his car and drove some more. It continued snowing and snowing.
“Oh, my God. She’s going to die of frostbite or something. And I’ll be the only one to blame,” Brian started crying at the wheel, and suddenly, a deer jumped onto the road. He swerved quickly, and despite the efficiency of the snow tires, the SUV lost control because it was so heavy. There was no friction, and the car skidded.
Brian tried to control the wheel in a futile attempt to survive, but another intrusive thought came to mind: Whatever happens, I deserve it. He knew if the SUV continued, it might crash into a tree, and he might not survive it.
But the SUV finally collided with a snowdrift and stopped. The airbag punched him in the face, and alarms were blaring while the dashboard went a little crazy. But he was alive and breathing. His nose hurt slightly from the airbag, but it was the least of his problems.
It took all his strength to push the door open, but he got out and breathed. “MOM! SYLVIA! PLEASE ANSWER ME! COME HOME! I LOVE YOU!” Brian yelled into the empty road, a soul-wrenching helpless cry that ripped out of his chest with the pain of ripping flesh from bone.
He looked back at the car, feeling the soreness in his throat but not caring. His SUV was stuck. He would have to go on foot, and maybe, he could go back to the police station to see what was happening. But his cell phone rang.
He took it out of his pocket with shaking hands and saw an unknown number on the screen. “HELLO?” he yelled.
“Brian?” a voice said.
“You don’t know me, but I have your mother,” the man on the phone continued. And Brian saw red.
“LISTEN! If you hurt my mother in any way, I will make sure you pay for it with everything you have!” he screamed, but several beeps resounded in his ear, and he knew the call had ended. “AH!”
“I… I’m a different man now, Mom.”
Luckily, a police car arrived. “Officers! Please, I got a call that my mother is being held hostage. Please! You have to help me! I lost the signal. I can’t call the criminal back!”
“Alright. Let’s go to the station,” the officers agreed, and he got into their car. “We’ll call for a tow for the SUV from there.”
“I don’t care. I care about my mother,” Brian replied. He only gave one little thought to the money the criminal wanted. However, he would pay anything to have her back.
At the station, the cops determined that the call was from a home phone number and traced it to an address not far from Brian’s house, but he had never been down that road. They didn’t try to call because they were sure it was a hostage situation. It was already morning, so several cops were available to go directly to the house.
“You should stay here, Mr. Collins. It’s dangerous,” an officer told him.
“Please, no. Let me go with you. I can negotiate. I can offer money. This is all my fault. Please,” Brian begged, and the cop took pity on him.
Several cop cars arrived at the address, ready for a dangerous standoff against a villainous abductor, but they reached a humble home and saw a man watering his flowers while two girls made a snowman outside.
The officers exited their cars, and Brian rushed to the man, who greeted him before Brian could demand anything.
“Are you Brian? I tried to call a few more times, but nothing,” he said, smiling, and Brian calmed down, realizing that this man was not evil.
“I’m Clint. Those are my daughters over there, and your mother is right inside near the fireplace,” the kind man continued.
“Sir, can you tell us what happened?” one of the officers approached.
“I was returning home late from work when I saw this old woman lying on freezing snow. I couldn’t leave her there, so I brought her home. She was disoriented last night, but I did my best to get her into dry clothes and keep her warm and fed,” Clint started explaining. “Please, come in.”
Brian ran into the house and saw his mother wrapped in a warm blanket near the fireplace.
“This morning, she managed to tell me about her son, and she remembered his phone number. But she’s been quiet ever since,” Clint continued, and Brian knelt in front of the old woman checking her.
“Mom,” he breathed, tears falling at last. “God, Mom. I’ve been searching so much for you. Why did you leave the house?”
The older woman looked into her son’s eyes and smiled sweetly. “You look like my boy, Brian. He’s the best in his class. He won a math contest the other day,” she said, and Brian knew she was not lucid right then. He had won his fifth-grade math contest decades ago, and she bragged like crazy back then.
However, Brian didn’t care that her mind seemed to be away for the moment. The only thing that mattered was that she was safe and sound.
The officers asked Clint a few questions. He told them he would go to the police station if he couldn’t contact Brian again. “I didn’t have anyone to watch my girls today. I’m sorry. I should’ve called 911,” he apologized, but Brian shook his head.
“No, you saved my mother. I can’t thank you enough,” Brian hugged the stranger and then took out his phone. “Let me give you something as a reward.”
“No. No! God, no. I just did what anyone would’ve done,” Clint refused, and Brian put his phone away.
“Officer, can you take us home?” he asked the cops, who nodded and helped him with his mother to the squad car.
He thanked them as he walked with his mother to the house, and they left. He took her to her room and put her to bed. As he watched her sleep, he promised her the world.
“I… I’m a different man now, Mom. Or at least, I’ll do my best to be. I will be the son you can brag about again, even if you don’t remember me well. I will get a handle on Dad’s business, earn the executives’ respect and finally get my life together. It’s not too late. I know I can do it,” he swore and left her room.
His change would go slowly, and it would probably be rough. But he did it. When his mother passed, and he inherited all their wealth, he set up a trust fund for Clint’s kids. The man, who worked as a janitor, had become an excellent buddy to Brian after the incident and always refused when he tried to give him money. But his children would get access to the trust fund when they turned 18. They could use it for whatever they needed.
It was the reward the kind man deserved for rescuing Sylvia… and saving Brian.
What can we learn from this story?
Money is worthless if it makes you waste your life. Brian only cared about money and didn’t work, settle down, or have a family. Even his parents had lost hope in him.
Your loved ones matter more than any amount of inheritance. Brian only agreed to care for his mother to get his estate, but he learned quickly that money is nothing compared to the people you love.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.