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Suitcases on the doorstep | Source: Shutterstock
Suitcases on the doorstep | Source: Shutterstock

Son Puts Mother in Nursing Home, Returns Home and Finds His Suitcases on the Doorstep — Story of the Day

Caitlin Farley
Apr 17, 2024
07:35 A.M.
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Joe returns home with his fiancée after taking his mom to a nursing home only to find his suitcases on the doorstep and another family moving in. His mother has tricked him, but he soon realizes she did it to protect him from a more sinister threat.

"You did the right thing, baby." Emily grinned as she reached across to pat Joe's leg. "Your mom will have a much better quality of life in the nursing home, and you and I can start turning her old crafts room into a nursery for our baby."

Joe smiled at his incredible fiancée as he stopped at an intersection. She had such a kind heart. If only Mom could see it, but her illness and age had taken its toll on her. It scared him that he might never have realized how bad it was if Emily hadn't come along.

Joe had to park outside Mom's house because a strange car was already parked in the driveway. His confusion grew as he looked out the window and noted people carrying furniture into the house while two young girls played on the lawn.

"What the heck is going on here?" Joe exited the car and jogged up to the front step. He waved at a man at the front door. "Hey, what are you doing in my house?"

"You must be Joe!" The man grinned sheepishly and put a hand to the back of his head. "Your mom said you'd come. See, the thing is, this isn't her house anymore. She sold it to us last week. Here are the papers and, uh, there's your stuff."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Joe's jaw dropped as he noticed his suitcases lined up on the doorstep, along with a cardboard box bearing his name. He felt a hand on his arm and turned. Emily was beside him, a sneer curling her lips as anger flashed in her eyes.

"Give me that," she snarled, snatching the papers from his hand.

Joe watched Emily's face turn red while she scanned the papers. Her expression said it all: Mom truly had sold the house! Joe reached for his fiancée, seeking comfort and something to anchor him in this crazy situation.

But Emily shook him off.

"You have got to be the biggest fool I've ever met, Joe!" Emily yelled. "How could you let your mother trick you like this, right under your nose? Everything is ruined now."

"Don't say that, Emily. I don't understand when, or why Mom did this, but we still have each other. We can—"

"This was the last straw for me! You're a loser with nothing to offer me, Joe. Forget about me." Emily pulled the ring from her finger and hurled it to the ground. "And forget about our marriage."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"Wait!" Joe followed Emily as she marched away. "You can't just leave. What about our child?"

Emily laughed in his face. "You really are a naive idiot. There is no child, Joe, now get out of my way, I'm leaving!"

“What do you mean? Emily…Emily! Stop, explain what you mean about our child," Joe called.

Emily didn't even look back. Joe watched the love of his life stride across the lawn and out of his life. He didn't understand. So much had happened all at once, and now he felt numb and unmoored; like everything he'd known was a lie.

He returned to the porch just as his knees gave way and sat down. He leaned against his suitcase, and that's when he noticed the envelope tucked beneath a flap on the cardboard box. His name was written on it in Mom's angular cursive writing. He opened it and found a letter.

Dear Joe,

I'm sorry everything turned out this way. I wish I never had to take such drastic steps, but you left me no other choice. Let me explain: It all started the day you first brought Emily home...

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

A Few Weeks Earlier

Nora sat in her favorite armchair, smiling politely as she took in the news that her son was suddenly in a very serious relationship with the young woman seated beside him on the sofa.

"And where did you two meet?" Nora asked.

"I regularly deliver packages to the office where Emily was working at the front desk," Joe replied. "She was so professional at first, didn't want to chat with me, but I didn't give up trying."

"It was a temp job and I didn't want to get into trouble." Emily smiled shyly and glanced at Joe through her eyelashes. "But Joe was just so funny, and so charming. I couldn't say no when he asked me on a date to the funfair."

Nora rubbed at her temple. She loved her son with all her heart. He was kind, honest, straightforward, and had many other fine personality traits besides, but charm was not one of them.

"That was about three weeks ago, and we've been seeing each other every day since then." Joe looked at Nora with stars in his eyes. "It's clear we were meant for each other. That's why I've asked Emily to move in with me."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Nora was so shocked by Joe's news that it triggered a coughing fit. She shook as she reached for the glass of water she always kept nearby, but someone else got there first.

"Here." Emily smiled sweetly at Nora and put a hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay? Is there anything else I can get you?"

Nora waved her off and sipped her water. Once she'd composed herself, she leaned back in her chair, pressed her oxygen mask to her face, and took a few deep breaths.

"I'm sorry if this has come as a shock, Mom." Joe perched on the arm of her chair and rubbed her shoulder. "I've been waiting for the right time to tell you about Emily. It must seem sudden, but everything has been so perfect in our relationship so far. We're soulmates!"

Nora reached out to Emily, who was still hovering nearby, and patted her hand. "Emily, won't you be a dear and make me some tea? The warmth soothes my throat. You'll find everything you need on the kitchen counter."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"Isn't she the best?" Joe murmured as he watched Emily leave the room.

"She seems like a lovely girl, but don't you think you're moving a bit fast, Joey?"

"Mom, I appreciate your concerns, but..." Joe sighed. "I didn't want to tell you everything at once because of your health, but you deserve to know this." Joe grinned and took his mother's hands in his.

"I’m planning to propose to Emily this weekend."

Nora's fingers went limp, and her oxygen mask fell into her lap. "This weekend? But...you can't; it's too soon..."

"We have something special together, Mom." Joe smiled as though all his wildest dreams had come true. "You're the one who taught me to believe in true love and fight for it. That's what you and Dad did when you eloped. Didn't you tell me that Grandma and Grandpa also had doubts about your relationship?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"It's not the same." Nora shook her head. "Your father and I were in love for a long time, and we had to elope so we could be married before he was shipped out to the Gulf. Those were different times, Joe. So much was changing back then, and while a lot of it was exciting, there were crises to deal with too."

"There still is, Mom! The only difference between then and now is that the threats my generation faces are different from what yours faced." Joe leaned in to look Nora in the eye. "I love Emily, Mom. I love her so much that I can't even believe it! Life's too short to waste time waiting to make her my wife when I already know we're meant to be together forever."

Nora sighed. She still felt uncertain, but it was clear that Joe and Emily were deeply in love, and he would propose no matter what she said. She and Joe's father had done the same thing when his parents forbade him from marrying her.

"Alright," Nora said. "She's welcome to move in here, but don't you get any ideas about eloping! I want to be there when my son ties the knot."

Joe beamed with delight and promised Nora he wouldn't marry Emily without her. Nora quietly breathed a sigh of relief. She still doubted Joe's decision, but she wished him nothing but happiness and hoped he'd prove her wrong.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Emily moved in the next day, and Nora was surprised to realize how much they had in common. She just about fell out of her chair when she was knitting that evening, and Emily sat down beside her with her own needles and yarn.

"I hope you don't mind me joining you." Emily smiled shyly. "I've recently taken up knitting and I thought maybe we could chat a little and knit together...I'd sure appreciate it if you could give me some tips on maintaining my tension."

Nora agreed, and the two women chatted for most of the evening. Joe got take-out for dinner, and afterward, the three watched a TV documentary. Nora soon tired and went to bed, only to wake with a start a few hours later: she'd forgotten to take her evening pills!

Nora tiptoed to the kitchen and drank her pills. On her way back to bed, she noted the bathroom light was on.

"Yeah right!" Emily's hushed voice carried clearly in the silent house. "It's so creepy living with this old lady and her oxygen machine. She sounds like the villain from that old sci-fi movie...yeah, that one! Luckily, Joe is totally hooked on me so I should be able to get rid of her soon."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Nora stood in the hallway, frozen in disbelief. It seemed impossible that the young lady she'd spent such a lovely evening with could now be speaking so horribly about her. And how on earth did Emily intend to get rid of her?

"Shouldn't be too hard to convince him to stick her in a nursing home. Then, I'll give him the boot too and this house will be mine!"

Nora started down the hall to Joe's room. She had to warn her son that his fiancée was a manipulative gold digger. Then she remembered the conversation they had earlier and how his face glowed when he looked at Emily.

Joe would never believe her. Emily had well and truly sunk her hooks into him. She'd need a plan...a way to prove Emily's deceit.

Thoughts whirled through Nora's head as she quietly retreated to her bedroom. She knew she had to save her son and that Joe would end up heartbroken no matter what she did.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Nora agonized over Emily's deception for days. She waited for the woman to slip up and show her true nature, but that moment never came. If Nora hadn't overheard her talking to her co-conspirator, she'd never have suspected Emily was anything less than a sweet lady who loved Joe.

Then Joe came to her one day with a serious expression and told Nora they needed to talk.

"It's about Emily—" Joe said.

"Oh, honey." Nora patted Joe's hand. "I'm so sorry things didn't work out, but I'm glad you've finally realized—"

"What are you talking about?" Joe frowned. "Things are great between Emily and I. I've never been happier! Are you still caught up on the issue of how long we've known each other?"

"No...I just thought...I'm sorry, Joey." Nora quickly backtracked. "You know it's rarely a good thing when people say they need to talk and then you mentioned Emily and I assumed something had happened between you two."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"That makes sense." Joe's smile returned. "Actually, I want to talk to you about Emily's work. You know she's been running her own business while working through the temp agency and things have been going very well lately. In fact, Emily can't keep up with all the orders coming in."

"That's wonderful news," Nora replied.

"Yes, but it's also a huge problem. She needs to hire help and buy more machinery to keep up, but she can't afford to do that right now." Joe swallowed hard. "I'd like to help her, Mom. I want to invest in her business, but there's only one way I can get the capital I need to do that."

Dread formed a tight knot in Nora's belly. She couldn't help thinking that Emily was making her move and whatever came out of Joe's mouth next would mean her doom.

"Spit it out, Joe," Nora said. "What do you want to do?"

Joe glanced her way but couldn't maintain eye contact as he spoke. "I think...you know, your health isn't improving, Mom, and there's only so much I can do for you at home...I think it's time you moved into a nursing home."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"...more comfortable there," Joe continued, "and if you agree to sell your house, then Emily and I can put that money into her business. I promise you I'll buy this place back as soon as we see a return on the investment. According to Emily's numbers, it shouldn't take more than a few months."

Nora couldn't believe her ears. She felt the familiar sensation like her lungs were spasming and reached for her oxygen mask, but it was too late. She leaned against her chair as the coughing fit wracked her body.

Joe was speaking, but she didn't hear a word he said. All she could do was try to focus on her breath. It was likely less than a minute before Joe pressed her oxygen mask to her face, but it felt like hours to Nora.

"I don't...want...to leave...my home," Nora gasped.

"But this is exactly why it'll be better for you in a nursing home," Joe pleaded. "I'm just trying to look out for you, Mom."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Nora shook her head. Emily was pulling Joe's puppet strings behind the scenes but didn't know what she could do about it.

"I won't be...around...much longer," Nora continued. "You'll get...the house..."

"Don't talk like that, Mom!" Joe looked sorrowfully at her. "I don't even want to think about losing you! I love you so much, and I wish you'd at least consider going to a nursing home."

Nora sighed. She started feeling better physically, but her heart was still torn regarding her son.

"I'll think about it, Joey," she said. "Just...give me some time, okay?"

Joe reached over and hugged Nora. "Thanks, Mom. I know you love this place but I really think a nursing home will offer you better care. I'll get some pamphlets and we can look through them together, okay?"

Nora nodded. She had no intention of going to a nursing home, but at least now she'd bought herself more time to figure out a way to expose Emily.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

The next day, while Nora was knitting and having her mid-afternoon snack, she heard the front door creak. She peeped out the door of her crafts room just in time to see Emily slipping out.

Emily hadn't mentioned that she was going out, so Nora was instantly suspicious. She hurried to the door and watched Emily climb into her car and drive away.

Nora didn't often drive anymore but set off after Emily without hesitation. Nora spotted her at the intersection at the bottom of the street and followed her all the way to a cafe downtown.

Nora parked across the street and watched Emily jog toward the cafe entrance with a bright smile on her face. A strange man stepped forward and greeted her with a hug. The pair held hands as they entered the cafe together. Shortly afterward, Nora spotted them again at a table beside the window.

Nora pressed a hand to her chest and tried to breathe calmly as she watched the strange man lean across the table to kiss Emily.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Fortunately, Nora brought her oxygen machine with her. She took a few deep breaths and then called Joe.

"Joey, I'm sorry to interrupt you at work but this is very important. I'm outside the cafe on the corner of 3rd Street. Meet me here immediately!"

Nora moved closer to the cafe and started recording Emily and her lover through the window. They smiled while they chatted and occasionally brushed their hands together on the table, but they didn't kiss again.

"Mom? What's going on?" Joe called as he jogged toward her.

"That's what's going on!" Nora pointed toward the cafe window. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Joey, but Emily is cheating on you."

Joe turned to the window. His confused frown swiftly melted into shock, then anger. He balled his hands into fists and stormed toward the cafe entrance. Nora followed.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"What the heck is going on here?" Joe thumped his palms down on the table where Emily and her lover were seated. "How long have you been seeing this chump behind my back, Emily?"

Emily and the man both jumped in fright when Joe confronted them, then Emily burst into tears.

"What?! You think I'm cheating on you?" She stood and shoved Joe's shoulder. "How could you, Joe?"

"I saw you holding hands and kissing!" Nora moved closer.

"He's my cousin! God, Nora, it was a peck on the lips." Emily turned to Joe. "I know a kiss like that is a big deal out here, but I grew up in New York and that's how we always greeted family."

"Your cousin, huh?" Joe turned to the guy. "And why haven't I heard of this cousin?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"Because..." Emily put a hand to her forehead and sighed. "Because I was ashamed, okay? I've worked real hard to make a success of myself, and I didn't want you to know the poor side of my family. If you still don't believe me, I'll show you proof of how much I love you."

Emily wiped the tears from her eyes and reached into her bag. She removed a pregnancy test and showed it to Joe.

"I didn't want to tell you like this, but you're going to be a daddy, Joe. Our baby is growing inside me, and if you think that I'd cheat on you while I'm pregnant with our child—"

Emily's words were cut short as Joe swept her into his arms. Nora couldn't believe what she was seeing! She barely noticed Emily's supposed cousin sneaking off as she approached her son and gave him a hard tap on the shoulder.

"Wake up, Joe!" Nora said. "She's lying to you to cover her tracks! There's no way that man is her cousin, and she's probably lying about being pregnant too! You need to snap out of it and see this gold digger for who she really is."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Joe put his arm around Emily as he turned to face Nora.

"Stop it, Mom! Why are you so determined to think the worst of Emily? She's done nothing but be kind to you."

"What?" Nora leaned on the table as she reeled from the shock of Joe's words. "I'm telling the truth...I saw her! Nobody kisses their cousin like that."

"Don't be so hard on her, baby." Emily put a hand on Joe's chest. "Remember what we talked about? It's not her fault she's getting confused."

"Excuse me? I'm not confused, and you should not be talking about me behind my back!"

Nora glared at Joe. "What lies did this little viper whisper to you?"

Joe frowned and ran his fingers through his hair. "I think we should discuss this somewhere more private. Let's go home."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Nora seethed in silence as Joe carefully and sensitively explained to her that she'd started showing signs of senility recently and how Emily had pointed it out to him.

It was all a big load of bull, but Nora understood then that she'd radically underestimated Emily's cleverness and sheer determination to hustle Joe. Even now, she sat beside her son with an utterly convincing display of concern and care.

"...part of the reason I pushed so hard to get you into a nursing home," Joe concluded. "They can give you the care you need, Mom, and help you deal with this confusion caused by your decreasing mental faculties. I love you, and I only want the best for you."

Emily had set this up perfectly. Anything Nora said or did now to defend herself or expose Emily's con would just be swept aside as part of her supposed senility. The absolute worst part of it all was the realization that Joe had turned out to be such a gullible fool.

Nora was trapped but not yet defeated. She hated to do this to Joe, but there was only one thing she could do now to protect her son from Emily's evil scheme. She agreed to go to the nursing home and sell the house, but Nora was already planning a way to outwit Emily once and for all.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Present

...I only ever wanted the best for you, son, and I hope you can see now that I was telling you the truth all along.

Joe wiped tears from his eyes as he read the final words of Mom's letter. He couldn't believe he'd let Emily fool him so thoroughly and for so long. Guilt filled his heart as he thought of how badly he'd hurt Mom by not believing in her.

"I've been such an idiot!"

Joe leaped from the porch and raced to his car. He still had time to make things right, and he was willing to beg at his mother's feet if that's what it took for her to forgive him. He reached the nursing home in record time and hurried inside.

"I'm here to see my mom, Mrs. Brady," he said to the receptionist.

"Thank God you're here," the receptionist exclaimed. "I've been trying to reach you for the past half hour. Your mother went into respiratory failure and had to be transported to the hospital. We're still waiting—"

Joe didn't stick around to hear the rest. He raced back outside and sped to the hospital.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Joe went straight to the emergency room. It felt like he'd waited forever before Mom's doctor arrived and led him into a private room to talk.

"How is she doing, doc?" Joe asked as the doctor shut the door. "When can I see her?"

"I'm sorry Joe, but your mother didn't make it. We did everything possible to save her but it wasn't enough."

"But...this doesn't make sense! Her condition was under control."

The doctor shook his head. "She was stable for a long time but her health started deteriorating recently. I thought you knew...I advised a more aggressive treatment plan at her last check-up. She was supposed to come in for treatments, but she never showed."

Joe sank into a chair and put his head in his hands. He was too shocked to cry, too shocked to know where even to begin processing his emotions and thoughts. In the space of a few hours, his whole world had come crashing down, leaving him buried in the rubble of the happy life he'd once known.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

His phone vibrating in his pocket snapped him out of his numb disbelief. He noted the series of missed calls from the nursing home on his notification bar, along with a text message from his bank.

Mom had transferred $500 000 to his account! Where...the house. It had to be the money she received from selling the house.

Despite all his bad choices and screw-ups, Mom had looked out for him to the end. It broke his heart to realize that he hadn't done the same for her.

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