When Brandon visited his retired teacher, he took his mother’s help to care for the lonely man. Little did Brandon know that, a year later, he would be asked to leave the house and take his professor with him.
Brandon was always up before the sun, which seemed to shine a little brighter around him.
The 12-year-old boy was blessed with a heart that could read any hint of sorrow or pain in your eyes and offer you little words and actions that soothed your soul in all innocence.
And his kindness came from home. Brandon’s parents were a couple who had fought the stigma in their communities to even be together. Through their own life experience, Nina and Carl knew what storms love and respect could withstand.
And so, when they were blessed with a baby boy, they focused on raising him to be kind and respectful. Even though his father passed away two years ago, the lessons he left in Brandon lived on.
Nina and Brandon moved into an even smaller house. They had even smaller meals, but it was rich with nutrition and the joy of an honest day’s work.
Life provides us enough to help someone in need.
Nina worked two jobs and took on work from the neighborhood as a seamstress. The sound of the sewing machine whirring away had always been Brandon’s lullaby.
Nina knew how blessed she was to have Brandon, and her life had one goal: to ensure her brilliant son received the best education. And while she worked tirelessly toward that goal, Brandon supported her in every way he could.
“You take care of work and money. I’ll take care of home and school,” Brandon had told his mother.
The boy knew where every pot and pan went in the kitchen. He had made a recipe book for himself from observing his mother cook, and there was no chore too dull for him.
Every evening, Nina would return exhausted to a well-kept home, a warm hug, and a hot meal cooked by her dear son on some days.
Brandon’s last waking hours of the day were dedicated to studying. And on tough days, there was always one subject that would calm him. Literature.
He rushed through his studies and homework for other subjects, so he could sit with his literature textbook by the cracked window and softly read out prose and poetry to the night skies. Perhaps his love for literature came from another father figure in his life.
“Mr. Gilmore? Mr. Gilmore! Hello, sir. Have you seen Mr. Gilmore around today?”
Brandon had been looking for his literature teacher at school, the one who taught him how to read and write with purpose. He was also the one to teach Brandon to ignore bullies at school who teased him over his love for books.
“Literature is for girls, dude!” one of the boys would say.
“Oh, literature is just his cover for being afraid to play a sport. ‘What if I scrape my knee?’ What a wuss!” another classmate had remarked.
Thanks to Mr. Gilmore’s influence in Brandon’s life, he knew precisely how to smile and dust all the mockery off his mind.
Mr. Gilmore was not the kind of man who would skip a single day at work, so when he didn’t show up for five days in a row, Brandon worried about his mentor.
“Sadly, Mr. Gilmore is no longer working with us. I went to see him yesterday. He’s in bad shape, Brandon. He’s holed up alone in his home, barely getting up from his bed or even eating.”
Brandon couldn’t wait to pay his old teacher a visit. The next day, he found his way to Mr. Gilmore’s house. Nina had packed the old man more than half of the lunch she had made that afternoon.
“Don’t just get into a long conversation right away. First, let the man eat,” Nina had advised her son.
Brandon rang the doorbell of the narrow house and had to wait almost five minutes before the door opened. And when it did, the sight before Brandon’s eyes broke his heart. In front of him was a frail man, shaking with cold, standing with an exhausted hunched back and a weak smile.
“Good morning, Mr. Gilmore!”
“Brandon? What a lovely surprise! Please, come in.”
The dryness in Mr. Gilmore’s voice hurt Brandon even more.
Per Nina’s strict instructions, Brandon set the table and sat with Mr. Gilmore for lunch. There was hot soup, a greens salad, chicken pot pie, and half a loaf of bread.
“Mr. Gilmore, is there someone I can call for you? A family member or friend you would like to come and visit you?”
The kindness and comfort in Brandon’s voice were almost alien to the ailing man. “There’s…no one. I lost my wife Diane to a freak accident 27 years ago. And that’s it. There ends my list of people who’ve loved me like I’ve loved them.
“I do have a son, but he reckoned I was difficult to be around, so he moved away to the other end of the country. He would rather have no parent around than have me in the same city as him.
“I thought I would spend my sunset years immersed in the only thing I know how to do well: teaching. But now, it looks like this is my new and final chapter,” Mr. Gilmore said, feeling the wrinkles and bulges on the back of his palm.
The man’s voice had started to dry and taper off again. He looked tired after the long meal. There were so many questions Brandon wanted to ask his teacher. ‘But there are going to be plenty of opportunities for that,’ the boy told himself.
Brandon tucked Mr. Gilmore in and left with a promise on his lips and in his heart: “I’ll be back tomorrow!”
He continued visiting Mr. Gilmore every afternoon after school. Instead of going home and doing the chores, he went to Mr. Gilmore’s and did the same for him.
Nina would also visit between shifts to prepare a wholesome meal and have a wholesome conversation with the wise man.
Over the following six months, Nina and Brandon’s kindness brought the old Mr. Gilmore back. The professor was back on his feet, barely using a cane, and he was helping his sincere student learn more from the world of literature.
This became their new life, one in which Nina and Brandon felt blessed to have a father figure, and Mr. Gilmore felt like he had a family again.
Life wasn’t any less challenging for the trio, but it was way more beautiful.
Until one afternoon, an impatient visitor at Mr. Gilmore’s house kept ringing the doorbell non-stop. Mr. Gilmore, Nina, and Brandon were sipping a warm cup of cocoa over a delightful conversation when they heard the incessant ringing and knocking.
Through the curtains on the front window, Mr. Gilmore recognized the young man. He took a deep breath as if to brace himself for a storm and answered the door.
“Dwight, is that you, son?”
“Took you long enough!” Dwight dropped his luggage at the door in frustration. He looked like he wanted to go off on the old man, but the sight of two guests caught him off guard.
“Who are these people? You’ve gotten rich enough to hire help now, have you, dad?”
Mr. Gilmore tried to contain the anger that had already started bubbling up inside him.
“They’re my friends. This bright young boy is Brandon, and that’s his mother, Nina. They were actually a great help through my illness. They would come by, feed me, keep me company, help me get—”
“So they are sort of hired help. Except, you’re getting them to do it for free!”
Mr. Gilmore was so angry he wanted to break something. But one look at Brandon’s concerned face, and Mr. Gilmore was reminded of his own lessons in calmness.
“How can I be of service to you today, son?” he asked with a smile.
“Come, sit down for a cup of cocoa,” Nina chipped in. “You must be exhausted.”
“I don’t have time for this. Wrap up your tea party and pack up your things, dad. You need to vacate this house this evening.”
Mr. Gilmore was taken aback by the suddenness of the plan.
“Where’s this coming from?” he asked his only child.
“I can’t wait anymore. I’ve been asking you to redo this house so I can finally sell it and use the money to move to Australia. No more dancing around. I need the money now!
“In a month, I’m going to do up the place and sell it for the price it deserves. There are workers coming in, starting tomorrow. So please, take your friends and go. Now!”
Nina and Brandon were speechless as they complied with the man’s heartless orders. It went without saying that they would have Mr. Gilmore live with them in their tiny home for the foreseeable future.
Mr. Gilmore, on the other hand, looked calmer and even had a slight smile on his face as he packed his things, much to the annoyance of his son.
“Dwight, my boy, I know it’s nothing personal. I hope you know that, too. There’ll be a man coming here to meet me in about a week. You can talk to him instead, and send him away.”
“We’ll see,” Dwight said, unsure what to make of his father’s statement.
A week later, a man did arrive at the house asking for Mr. Gilmore. It was his lawyer.
“This house, sir, has been sold. You need to vacate the premises by tomorrow morning.”
“Sold? That’s impossible. I haven’t found any buyers yet. I’m just getting started on renovation—”
“Oh, not by you. Mr. Gilmore was already in conversation with a family about selling this house. This was a month ago. The buyer’s confirmation came in only about a week ago, and the paperwork is now finally done. Here, take a look.”
Dwight was too furious to read through the stack of papers the lawyer showed him.
“Gah! It doesn’t matter. I’ll talk to whoever this ‘buyer’ is, and we’ll have this deal canceled.”
“I’m afraid the buyer won’t agree, sir.”
Dwight was annoyed with the man’s calm tone and piercing certainty.
“Oh really? How can you be so sure?”
“Because it’s me, sir. I’m the buyer. I’ve bought this beautiful house for my family of three. And I like it just the way it is!”
That evening, for the first time in years, Mr. Gilmore’s son was calling him relentlessly.
The old man had known that this day would come, and he had been preparing for it all along.
“You are quite the mastermind, sir!” Brandon said as he learned a new lesson in surviving the harshness of the world.
“Wait till you see our new home, kiddo!” Mr. Gilmore teased, holding onto another surprise.
Mr. Gilmore had already chosen a lovely new home to live in with his new family. It was smaller than his original house, but it was a house that came to be filled with love, laughter, and literature.
For the rest of his life, Mr. Gilmore held on to one final secret: he had rewritten his will. On the day he would leave this life, Nina and Brandon would learn that the man had left all of his wealth solely for one purpose: “towards the higher education of my best student and the son I never had; my dearest Brandon.”
What can we learn from this story?
Life provides us enough to help someone in need. Even though Brandon and Nina were struggling, they found a way to help lonely Mr. Gilmore get better. They ended up working harder, but the satisfaction of their new friendship was worth the trouble.
Our teachers deserve a lifetime of love, respect, and support. Like Mr. Gilmore, a chosen few of our teachers helped us build our interests and confidence. They became father figures, mother figures, and friends to us. We must never forget them and help them in every way we can.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.