Jimmy was contacted by his dying estranged father, begging him to take in his little girl because he was dying. He promised to be a better man than the man who abandoned him and raised her, only for her to surprise him in the biggest way possible later.
“Jimmy, I’m dying,” a hoarse voice came through the phone, and Jimmy sighed heavily, conflicted and confused.
“Don’t say that,” he mumbled, pursing his lips.
“It’s the truth… son. There’s no telling how long I have to live. I could die in five minutes or a few days, but I need you to listen to me,” his estranged father, Dean, began and cleared his throat. “I need you to take in your little sister.”
Jimmy was not expecting that at all. “What?” he asked. “I have a sister?”
“Yes, she’s six years old and the best thing that ever happened to me. But her mother is… not a good woman. She gets to inherit everything I have, and I know she’ll leave our daughter either at a group home or alone. Please, help her,” the older man begged, and Jimmy had no idea what to do.
“I don’t care. Please, don’t bother me again,” the woman interrupted him.
This was a sore subject for him. His biological parents, Miriam and Dean, had been 18 and 17, respectively, when he was born. Neither of them was ready for the responsibility of raising a child. But his father’s family could’ve helped.
They were insanely rich, with generational wealth that would never run out. However, Dean’s parents hated Miriam, and in the end, the only choice was to leave the child in an orphanage to get adopted.
Unfortunately, Jimmy was a colicky baby, and no adoptive parent wanted that. The people raised him at the shelter, and by 8, he hated the world. Other kids got adopted out but not him. No one wanted him.
That’s when Dean appeared in his life again. He was 25 this time and wanted to take Jimmy back home and make up for his mistakes. But Jimmy wouldn’t let him. He would always run away from Dean’s house and back to the shelter. They couldn’t convince him.
“He’s the man who left me here! This is my home! I can’t be with him!” the boy cried, red-faced, every time they tried to explain that this was his chance to have a better life. He didn’t want that. Therefore, Dean gave up again, thinking that was best.
Ironically, that’s not what Jimmy needed, and the kid felt abandoned once again. Dean regularly donated money to the group home so Jimmy could have more stuff. But the angry child grew into a resentful adult, and life was not that good.
At 41, he worked at a cafe as a barista/waiter for a little over minimum wage. He always wished he had given his father a second chance or hadn’t been so full of hatred all his life. But he couldn’t change the past.
Except… now he had a chance to make a big difference.
“Yes, Jimmy. She’s your sister, Alice. She’s the most amazing little girl. Smart, happy, and beautiful. I can’t leave her with my wife, and there’s no one else,” Dean continued. “I implore you, Jimmy.”
“But… I don’t have the kind of money to raise a kid,” Jimmy stuttered a bit. He was ashamed to utter those words, but they were true.
“That’s alright. Can you come to the hospital and we can discuss some things? I can get my lawyer here, too,” Dean offered and started coughing heavily.
“OK. OK. I’ll go there,” Jimmy said quickly and hung up.
Unfortunately, his father died before he arrived at the hospital, and there was no time to arrange anything or talk to Dean’s lawyer. Jimmy didn’t know what to do. He had nothing to offer a little girl, but he could at least meet her at the funeral.
His late father had been right about his wife. The new widow soaked up all the attention at the funeral, wailed like a soap opera actress, and ignored Alice the entire time. The poor girl was alone and had no one to comfort her while she cried. Jimmy could easily sympathize with her.
He talked to her for a little while. “I’m Jimmy, your big brother. It’s nice to meet you,” he introduced himself.
“Jimmy? Dad talked about you. It’s nice to meet you, too. I’m Alice,” she looked up at him with her sweet, guileless eyes, and Jimmy immediately wanted to shield her from the world’s cruelty.
Sadly, he didn’t have a chance to talk to her more. “Alice, let’s go,” her mother said in a snippy tone.
“Wait, Mrs. Perkins. I’m Jimmy,” he stood up and tried to stop his late father’s widow from leaving quickly.
“Yeah, I know. But don’t expect anything from me. I will not give you any of my money. You only get whatever he left you in the will,” the woman said, her upper lip raised in disdain.
“Open it!” she urged, clapping.
“I don’t want anything, but Dad did call me right before. He said–”
“I don’t care. Please, don’t bother me again,” the woman interrupted him, pulled on Alice’s arm, and walked away quickly.
Jimmy thought her gesture said she wouldn’t give up on Alice either and thought it was for the best. However, a few days later, the group home where he had grown up called him. They had Alice.
“She abandoned her daughter?” Jimmy asked, shocked. “Dad told me she would, but I didn’t think he was right.”
“Well, she’s here, and some families might be interested in her. But you’re her family. Jimmy, this might be your chance at a family,” Mrs. Bobette, the group home director, said gently. She had been an employee when he was little and knew him well. She was managing everything now, and the kids were thriving.
“Yes, I’ll take her. I’ll do it. I don’t have much, but I’ll do it,” Jimmy promised.
Things were not easy for Alice. She was dealing with losing her parents and her original lifestyle. She also had to adapt to Jimmy’s tiny apartment and lack of fancy gadgets. But kids could adapt quickly to that.
The worst was that Jimmy was not prepared to live with someone. He had been alone for many years, and now, he was essentially the father of a six-year-old. It was daunting, scary, and complicated for many reasons.
Jimmy enrolled her in school, but she had to stay at the cafe while he worked. She did her homework and colored around on one of the empty tables. Fortunately, his manager was a mom and understood his situation, although she didn’t like Jimmy much.
Jimmy was the clumsiest employee, but he made good coffee and was punctual, which is why he still had a job there, even after dropping trays and hitting himself often. He even spilled orange juice on a customer that day, and the customer was about to make a scene when they heard Alice’s cute laughter.
Jimmy and the customer looked at the little girl, and somehow, the tension eased. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” he repeated. “And I’m sorry about my little sister laughing. It’s the first time she’s laughed since our dad died.”
Those words obviously moved the woman, so she nodded and tried to dry her shirt as best she could. “It’s alright. I’m sorry for your loss. Anyone can make mistakes when grieving, but it’s nice to hear a child laughing cutely,” the customer said.
They didn’t charge for her food, and she left with a smile. Jimmy sighed that nothing terrible had happened and grinned at Alice. It was all because of her. Raising her wouldn’t be so hard. Maybe she was her good luck charm.
Life was not easy for either of them. Alice caused trouble like many kids, and Jimmy was trying to get a promotion at work, so he was busy. But they tried their best. They had dinner, movie nights, and outings to the park, and he was always there for her school functions.
By the time she turned 13, Alice was independent. She could cook her food and was part-timing at the coffee shop next to her big brother to earn pocket money.
There was only one problem Jimmy never expected: boys. Alice grew into a beautiful teenager, and all the boys at her school and neighborhood loved her. He had to shoo them away, which annoyed her to no end.
“Hey! I liked Luke!” Alice would complain.
“He’s not good enough for you,” Jimmy would shake his head.
“Who is? You chase away all my friends who are boys!” she whined.
“Maybe a prince. I don’t know. In any case, you’re too young for a boyfriend. You have to focus on school and get into college,” Jimmy continued, not feeling an ounce of guilt about his actions.
He never thought he would become that kind of father figure, but there he was. He loved her and had not been lying. The only man who would ever deserve her was a prince or someone with a bright future – not the scoundrels in this neighborhood.
At 18, Alice got a scholarship and went into a local college, so she left their home. Jimmy couldn’t have been prouder of her. Alice treated him like a father by then, although she always called him by his name. She visited him often, and they talked on the phone about everything.
At 20, Alice told him she had a big surprise for his 55th birthday, and Jimmy thought it might be the Segway he had always wanted since it came out.
“It’s like walking on air!” Jimmy gushed when the ads started appearing. Alice would always laugh at him.
“You’re going to be a crazy grandpa running people over on a Segway,” she giggled.
“Hey! In my day, I was great at skateboarding. I bet I can handle it,” he joked, and they forgot about it. They didn’t have the kind of money for that.
Jimmy turned around to greet his little sister/daughter, but his smile froze.
Naturally, he didn’t expect anything truly big from Alice. She was a college student, surviving on her scholarship. He had tried to save for a Segway on his own, but there was always some emergency or issue that took precedence. It was life.
But Alice came home with a huge box that needed to be carried in with a dolly. “Ally, dear. When you said a big surprise, I didn’t think you meant that it was actually huge!” Jimmy said, smiling. His heart skipped a beat.
“Open it!” she urged, clapping.
Jimmy took a knife, opened the lids, and looked inside. Then, he burst out in deep, joyous laughter.
“You’re going to need that, old man!” Alice laughed with him.
It wasn’t a Segway. It was a walker, and Jimmy couldn’t stop chuckling. It was hilarious, and technically, Alice was right. He was getting older, and although he didn’t need it now, he might use it in the future.
“Thank you, Alice. It’s great,” he said and hugged her.
“OK! Put on your jacket. We’re going somewhere fun,” she said.
“Where?” he asked, grabbing his jacket from the coat rack.
“You’ll see!” Alice started and shrugged. “I have an actual surprise for you.”
“Cool,” he replied, and they left the apartment. “You bought a car?”
“Wow, Ally. I’m so proud of you!” Jimmy said, and they got in. “It’s so cool!”
“Thank you. Now, put on some good tunes on the radio because we’re going on a long ride,” she said with an intriguing tone.
After two hours of driving, they reached Ocean City, Maryland. It was a place Jimmy had always wanted to visit because he loved the ocean. It was a resort town with exciting nightlife and many tourists.
“Thank you, Ally. This is amazing! Let’s eat somewhere great. My treat,” Jimmy suggested, taking in the view from the car window.
“Nope! We have somewhere to be first,” Alice sing-sang and continued driving. Jimmy shrugged. He was fine with whatever. Eventually, Alice stopped the car in front of a cute little bungalow house right in front of the ocean.
“Ah, man. This is the dream! What a view,” Jimmy commented as they got out of the car.
“Right? Wait until you see the view inside your new house,” Alice commented.
“Yeah… hmm, what?” he frowned suddenly and turned to his sister. To his surprise, she held a set of keys and pointed toward the house. “No….”
“Yes! This is your real birthday present!” Alice yelled cheerfully.
“What? Alice, that’s impossible. How? Why?” Jimmy stuttered, and Alice pulled him inside. They had a short tour of the little but fantastic house, and finally, they stood in the empty kitchen.
“Jimmy, when I turned 20, I was contacted by Dad’s old lawyer. He told me Dad had set up a huge trust fund for me, but I could only receive it then. It’s huge. It’s millions of dollars, and I think it’s only fair that you get half of that. Maybe, more,” Alice revealed, her cheerfulness turning into seriousness.
“No, Alice. No,” Jimmy shook his head. “That’s your money. I didn’t know he had done that. But I’m glad you get to have that money.”
“Jimmy. Listen to me. You deserve it, too. You were also his kids, and most of all, you were my dad, my only parent when the witch abandoned me,” Alice continued, frowning at having to mention her mother. “You deserve everything, and either way, I’m not taking no for an answer. You’re taking this house.”
“Alice,” Jimmy wiped his forehead and marveled. Tears rushed to his eyes, but he tried to push them back. This was too much. “I didn’t take you in expecting anything.”
“I know, and that’s the best part of everything you did for me,” Alice said and tightened her mouth as she also got emotional. “But… there’s more.”
“Yes, come on!” she urged him out, and they walked along the houses with a beach view until they reached the commercial part of town. “This is also for you.”
It was an empty store. No signs. Nothing. “What is this?”
“You can start your coffee shop here. It’s time to be your own boss, and you make amazing coffee. I already bought it and wanted to remodel it, but you should get to do that,” Alice explained.
“Oh, Alice. This is… I could never…” Jimmy didn’t have the words to explain his feelings.
“Do you like it?” she asked after a few moments of silence between them.
“I love it,” Jimmy nodded, tears finally falling. “I love you more. Thank you.”
“Thank you… Dad. For everything,” Alice replied, and they hugged once again. They walked back to the bungalow and started making plans for everything.
Alice couldn’t move with him because she was still in college, but she planned to visit often because that town was terrific. As promised, she wired him the money, and Jimmy couldn’t believe he was now a millionaire.
His store was doing well a year later, and his home was his safe haven. Alice had promised to come for his 56th birthday, but she hadn’t arrived yet. He was busy fixing a kink on their coffee when the door to the coffee shop opened.
“Hey, boss. It’s Alice,” his favorite employee, Tom, said.
Jimmy turned around to greet his little sister/daughter, but his smile froze. She was riding a bright and shiny Segway with a big red ribbon on the front. “SURPRISE!” she yelled, and Jimmy laughed heartily.
She was indeed a blessing…
What can we learn from this story?
Don’t let hatred and resentfulness rule your life. Jimmy spent his life angry and wasted so much time when he could’ve been building something amazing for himself.
Raising a child can be a huge blessing. Alice was the best thing that ever happened to Jimmy, even if he thought he was not good enough to take her in.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.