A ‘deaf-mute’ man’s children are in for a surprise when they arrive at his house to split the inheritance: as soon as they are done voicing their shares, the man speaks up.
“That’ll be $32.90.” Sandra sighed as she rang up the customer’s purchases; then, in a monotonous voice, she added, “Have a good day.”
“You too. I appreciate you,” the customer replied with a smile and walked away. He had made an extra effort to add the ‘appreciate you,’ but that didn’t make any difference to Sandra.
The beeping of barcode scanners continued as the other shoppers awaiting their turn approached the checkout counter. Sandra rang up their items at her usual pace and wished them a sad, tired ‘good day,’ as she did every other day.
Sandra was just 19 and worked as a grocery store cashier. She had never attended college and didn’t have a degree that could fetch her a good job; hence she accepted her fate as a tired cashier at the grocery store.
Years ago, when Sandra was six-year-old, a car accident took her parents away. Before the social workers found her only relative, she was tossed around like a bag of potatoes in different foster homes, all of which were horrible in every sense of the word.
Sandra used to cry and hug her teddy bear, Mr. Fluffy, pleading with God to send her Mommy and Daddy back. Then one day, a social worker informed her that her family had been located. Her late grandmother’s cousin was willing to take her in, and his name was Ben.
“Oh, look at you! You sweet little thing!” Ben smiled at young Sandra, who stared back at him with big blue eyes.
Ben was 62 back then, he had broken teeth, and he smelled funny.
Sandra held Mr. Fluffy close to her as she said, “Are you Ben?”
“Yes, yes, I am,” the old man replied. “And you must be Sandra! Looks like you got a friend with you?” he asked, pointing to her teddy bear.
“He’s Mr. Fluffy. My Mommy and Daddy got him for me. Do you like him?” Sandra asked.
“Oh! Yes, I do! Would you and Mr. Fluffy like to accompany me home? I know I’m an old man, and I’m not fun to be around. But I’m your family, sweetheart.”
Sandra shook her head, and a small smile appeared on her lips. “You’re funny!” she chuckled. “You smell funny! I like you, Ben!”
Unfortunately, Ben was disabled and couldn’t get Sandra’s custody, so he asked his sons to take the girl in, which they did only after his persuasion. But as time passed, Ben’s sons grew tired of looking after her and began considering her a burden.
You can give love to someone, but you can’t make them honor and respect it.
Eventually, Sandra moved in with Ben, and her life changed forever. He was a widower who had raised three boys on his own and knew nothing about raising a girl, but he did everything he could to provide her with a loving home.
Old Ben played games with Sandra, got her into a good school, and gave her both a mother’s and a father’s love. He taught her to cook; they had delicious barbeques in their backyard, and by the age of 13, Sandra was caring for Ben rather than the other way around.
As kind and caring as Sandra was, she was also a brilliant student. Ben had high expectations and wanted her to achieve amazing things in life. But by the time Sandra was in high school, Ben’s health had started deteriorating.
He was becoming thinner and paler with each passing day and didn’t have anyone by his side except Sandra. Ben’s boys were envious of his love and care for Sandra, so they grew distant from him and never visited him.
One day, Sandra returned home and found Ben unconscious on the bathroom floor. Worried and terrified, she dialed 911 and rushed Ben to the hospital.
“It was a micro stroke. While the patient is now stable, we are concerned that he has lost his ability to speak and hear.”
Ben’s diagnosis came as a severe blow to Sandra. He was declared deaf-mute by the doctors and needed someone to care for him 24/7.
Sandra had received a grant from a top university. She could have made a career for herself, but after Ben’s diagnosis, she decided to put her life on the back burner.
“I’ll be fine, Ben.” Sandra wrote on a notepad for him. “I want to be there for you, OK? Let’s face life together.”
“You don’t have to do this, sweetheart. I will be fine. We can hire a nurse.” Ben wrote with trembling hands.
“No.” Sandra wrote. “You were there when I needed you, so I want to be there for you too. Please. I want to do this.”
And it was then Sandra left all her goals and dreams behind and became Ben’s carer. Deep down, he was deeply hurt that his sons never showed up when he needed them.
Had all his love and care for them gone in vain? What had he done to deserve such treatment? Why wasn’t he deserving of their love?
One night, Ben was sitting alone in his study and staring out the window. As he recalled how he had raised his three boys alone after his wife’s death, tears streamed down his cheeks.
Logan, Zachery, and Gavin were his blood and flesh, but they never cared for him once they made it in life. When he had a micro stroke, they didn’t even bother showing up at the hospital or asking if he was doing OK. All they did was send some messages.
“Hey, dad, you know how things are at work… everything’s just crazy right now. I hope you can understand.”
“Um, well, I guess the doctors must be doing a good job. Technically, I can’t make you better, Dad. I mean, you have to take care of yourself.”
“Woah! I’m glad you are doing OK now. Maybe I’ll take out time next week and see you?”
Somewhere, Ben sensed that his sons didn’t care whether he lived or died. So he made up his mind. That night while he was in the study, Ben typed a message and sent it to his sons.
I hope you all are doing well. As you know, my health is not in the finest of shape. I’ve decided to take care of my affairs before God calls me home, so I hope to see you all at my house this Friday. I would be splitting the inheritance among you all. Hope to see you at 2. Would that work?
Then Ben wrote a message to Sandra too. Within seconds, his phone beeped with her reply.
“I need nothing from you! You’ve done more for me than anybody else could. Thanks, Ben. Love you. I’ll be at the grocery this Friday. Overtime. Let’s have a pizza party when I’m back. Oh, and do you need anything? I could drop by your room.”
Ben’s eyes welled up as he typed, “Love you too, sweetheart. Good night. I’m fine.”
Over the next few days, Ben’s sons replied, something they only did if it was profitable for them, and they all said they would be there on time.
Meanwhile, Ben persuaded Sandra to be there when the inheritance would be divided, but she refused, encouraging him that he would be in good health soon and run marathons and that she didn’t want anything from him.
“You helped me get a job at the supermarket, and I can make a living. You also gave me a home when my parents died. What more do I need? Nothing, Ben, nothing. I just want you to live for many more years!” Sandra wrote to him.
But Ben’s sons didn’t think alike. Logan, Zachery, and Gavin arrived at Ben’s house sooner than expected, canceling all their plans for the day.
As Ben sat in the chair across from them, he slid a list and a note onto the table.
“I don’t want any of you to hold a grudge when I die, so I determined this meeting was mandatory. Please don’t shy away from expressing how much of the inheritance you would like to have in your name. You have a list of my assets, and I want you to make your own decisions without my interference.”
“You didn’t need to write so much, Dad,” Logan laughed, the note in his hands. “All you had to write was, ‘Get your shares before my lungs give out and I end up dead!’ Oh wait, you can’t hear us, right? Lemme write that down for you!”
Ben’s eyes welled up as he read what his youngest child had written. That was a very disrespectful thing to say, Logan, he thought. You should not forget that I’m your father.
“This is hilarious!” Zachery scoffed. “I mean, you can’t even talk to or hear us! So, are we expected to sit here and write cute messages for you? Awful! You could have just called the lawyer!”
“Come on, guys!” Gavin chimed in. “He’s an old bloke! And he can’t hear us, so we don’t have to pretend we care. Just get your shares in order, and let’s get out of here, OK? I’ll start… Because I am the oldest, I am entitled to the largest share.”
“Hold on!” Logan stepped in. “Just because Dad’s no better than a deadbeat man, it doesn’t mean you’ll do it like this, OK? We all deserve our fair share!”
“It’s all Dad’s fault, though!” Zachery said. “Like, can’t he do anything properly? How did he fall ill without taking care of his legal matters? Darn sick! Just get things done before you die. How hard is that?”
The meeting was a disgusting affair, with Ben’s three sons fighting like stray dogs over the inheritance. Numerous times the three young men dissed their father for being an incapable deaf-mute man and leaving it up to them to choose what they would receive.
“Why do we have to leave stuff for her?” Zachery asked when Ben wrote them another note, telling them he wanted Sandra to be included in the inheritance split.
“You have to!” Ben insisted and shook his head.
“That witch! Ugh, I hate her! Have you lost your mind?” Zachery wrote.
“She has to be a part of it! That’s my decision!” Ben wrote again.
“Fine, OK! We’ll leave her something!” Logan wrote hastily. “Even though we don’t even consider her a part of our family!”
After a couple of hours of hurling nasty insults at one another and Ben, the three lads agreed on their share. They made a list and passed it to Ben. The older man then smiled and did something the boys could never have imagined.
“My turn. OK, boys?” he spoke up, and his three sons stared at him in disbelief.
“Did you just speak?” Zachery’s eyes widened in shock. “How the hell is that even possible?”
“That means… you heard everything! You heard us!” Gavin gasped.
Ben nodded. “It’s so awful that my three sons, whom I reared with such love and care, didn’t care about their father,” he sighed. “Thank you very much, everyone. This was all a ruse to find out what your genuine intentions were. I’m sorry that your father is not deaf and mute.”
The three men stormed out of Ben’s house, cursing him for wasting their time. What they didn’t know was that Ben was quite ill and didn’t have enough time.
Ben hadn’t told Sandra about his plan either because he wanted to determine his true heir. When he died a week later, each of his children received an envelope from him.
“Since you are the eldest, Gavin,” read the note in Gavin’s envelope. “I’m going to leave you $2. How unfortunate that this older man you didn’t care about wasn’t deaf and mute and only left you $2! I hope that teaches you something!”
“Dear, Zachery, I’m sorry this ‘darn sick’ man didn’t fall for your antics and was aware of your tricks. I hope the $1 in this envelope teaches you that money cannot buy everything. You were convincing enough to look like you cared, which isn’t worth more than $1.”
“Logan, my youngest child! Your father was a lot of things but not a deadbeat man! He had a kind heart, so he chose to leave you $1! You didn’t even deserve that for your insulting and demeaning words, but I’m a father and a better human than you.”
The last envelope Ben had left behind was for Sandra, and it made the young girl bawl her eyes out like a child.
A heart that gives love should learn how to receive love. I’m leaving my inheritance to you because you cared about me without any selfish motive. That said, don’t think you owe me anything, sweetheart. Receive what you deserve with gratitude.
What can we learn from this story?
A heart that gives love should learn to receive love. Sandra cared for Ben without expecting anything in return, and that care came back to her in the form of Ben’s love and legacy.
You can give love to someone, but you can’t make them honor and respect it. Ben raised his boys with love, but the kids only loved their father’s money.
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